Written by Savannah Sharrett
ICC Communications Liaison
View the books in our California campus library that will get you in gear for National Fruit & Veggie Month.
The Book of Greens: A Cook’s Compendium by Jenn Louis
Personally, when I think of “greens,” I imagine one of three things: collard, kale, or lettuce. Author, Jenn Louis, a Southern Californian native, comments that although having grown up in an area plentiful with green produce, it wasn’t until she traveled out of the country that she, “was delighted by the number of different varieties of greens in the markets”. She points out that North American diets tend to only include greens as salads and side dishes and shared her discovery that the rest of the world integrates them more fully. Today, in California especially, with the availability of more produce in this farmers market culture, variety is no longer our problem. As many might agree, “learning to buy and cook NEW vegetables can be intimidating”. The table of contents lists 40 different types of greens, some I had never hear of, like Caltuce, Gai Lan, Mache, Purslane, etc. This book takes each of those and breaks them down, providing background information, what season it grows, how to choose the best quality, how to clean, store, refresh, cook and what to pair it with. Despite the few carefully thought out recipes towards the back, this book is more of an encyclopedia.
The Power of Vegetables! Turbocharged Recipes for Vegetables with Guts by Peter Meehan and the Editors of Lucky Peach
As always, Lucky Peach takes an unorthodox view of matters and I happen to be a huge fan of their style. Most veggie cookbooks emphasize what’s in season or claim to hold the key to wellness and healthfulness but instead, Meehan states simply, “I wanted weeknight all-caps cooking for people looking to eat more vegetable-centered meals”. It is interesting to note that although meat is primarily a non-option in this book, these recipes are not prejudiced towards the occasional toss of bacon or the use of anchovies to achieve that umami flavor we are all seeking these days. Although usually very trendy, this time Lucky Peach strays from the ever so popular grain-bowls or egg-on-top-bowls and encourages home cooks to have a broader, more international view of food without overwhelming them. For example, one might try their hand at Gomen Wat, an Ethiopian dish or Sarson Ka Saag, from the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan, and even Quiche Lorraine, a French staple. One of the most useful parts of this book might be the list of ingredients that will make a home pantry versatile and complete such as miso, bread crumbs, capers, and shitake mushrooms.
On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox
I have definitely heard of the concepts of farm-to-table and nose-to-tail but I never thought about seed-to-stalk vegetable cooking. Author, Jeremy Fox, defines this idea in saying, “if you’re going to kill something, you @&!% better not waste any of it”. He goes further and asks, “what if cooking responsibly isn’t just about honoring things with heartbeats”? The book challenges readers not to take the easiest or standardized approach to cooking but instead to cook intentionally and deliberately; to consider how the dish today carries over to the dish tomorrow. Interestingly, Fox takes the time to explain that he is not a vegetarian nor is his book a guide to being vegetarian, rather it is a manual on how to “eat what is around you”. The onset of the book spends time paying homage to the farmers and farms that provide produce for his restaurant, Rustic Canyon located in Santa Monica, CA. The book then goes on to give tips on storage and purchasing key ingredients. Something can be said to the fact that every recipe is one page with plenty of white-space.