A cookbook featuring more than 65 recipes that make use of the parts of vegetables that typically get thrown away, including stalks, tops, ribs, fronds, and stems, with creative tips for making the most of seasonal ingredients to stretch the kitchen dollar.
Make the Most of Your Produce!
Don’t discard those carrot tops, broccoli stalks, potato peels, and pea pods. The secret that creative restaurant chefs and thrifty great-grandmothers share is that these, and other common kitchen scraps, are both edible and wonderfully flavorful. Root-to-Stalk Cooking
provides savvy cooks with the inspiration, tips, and techniques to transform trimmings into delicious meals. Corn husks and cobs make for rich Corn-Pancetta Puddings in Corn Husk Baskets, watermelon rinds shine in a crisp and refreshing Thai Watermelon Salad, and velvety green leek tops star in Leek Greens Stir Fry with Salty Pork.
Featuring sixty-five recipes that celebrate the whole vegetable, Root-to-Stalk Cooking
helps you get the most out of your seasonal ingredients. By using husks, roots, skins, cores, stems, seeds, and rinds to their full potential, you’ll discover a whole new world of flavors while reducing waste and saving money.
Vegetables: The Passion and the Reality
I first got really into food, and vegetables, during several years my parents were stationed with the military in Naples, Italy. My brother, Ben, and I were in college in the United States, but we spent as much time in Italy as we could, drinking cappucci, as they call the milky espresso drinks there, and eating out with my parents while working summer jobs. In addition to sampling the region’s amazing seafood, pizza, and pasta, we got to experience a whole new world of vegetables in unexplored preparations.
In Naples at Table, Arthur Schwartz writes that the Neapolitans were once called mangiafoglie, or “leaf eaters,” because of their love of vegetables, which are grown in the fertile volcanic soil and sunshine the region is known for. I think of Californians as modern-day mangiafoglie, though in our case the leaves might refer to lettuce, since we eat salads at every opportunity. California’s Salinas Valley is called the nation’s salad bowl, and the state is responsible for growing much of the country’s other vegetables and fruits. While California can boast having the largest number of farmers’ markets in the country, the increased interest in fresh produce is a trend seen across the United States, where the number of farmers’ markets grew by 40 percent between 2002 and 2012.
My own love of vegetables grew when I became a staff food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, where I’ve had the opportunity to interview countless chefs and farmers who share a passion—sometimes extreme—for vegetables. But at the same time that I’m a farmers’ market junkie and chronicler of obscure heirloom varieties of produce, I also wear other hats. For over a decade, I wrote a Chronicle column called “The Working Cook,” where I created recipes that could be prepared in around thirty minutes. I made sure that the recipes always included fresh vegetables, but I struggled with the fact that plant-focused meals take a lot longer to prepare than meat or fish entrées. Whereas a chicken breast or pork chop does fine with a sprinkle of salt and a little time under the broiler, there is a lot more washing, peeling, and trimming that has to happen with vegetarian main courses. Plus there’s the planning that goes into shopping and using up fresh vegetables before they go bad.
I’m also the mother of two young girls and, as I’m sure you’ll find it shocking to hear, my children do not quite share my enthusiasm for vegetables. My ten-year-old, Dahlia, explained that she will like more vegetables when she gets older and loses more of her taste buds (unfortunately for her, that theory has been debunked). That means we usually have two or three vegetable dishes on the table at every dinner, with wilted broccoli raab for us among bowls of steamed green beans for them.
But I’ve realized that the more practical side of me—the harried mother and the quick recipe specialist—doesn’t have to be at war with my inner mangiafoglie. I’ve learned to pair vegetables that require longer preparation with those that don’t: corn that needs to be shucked and then cut off the cob is perfect with tomatoes, which only need to be chopped. Rather than laboriously peel winter squash, I might split it, roast it until soft, and then scoop out the caramelized flesh. Or I’ll just leave it unpeeled, slice it, and roast it at high heat so that the skin becomes crispy and good to eat.
After all, many of these recipes were inspired by simple necessity, like when I had a ton of lemongrass from a big bunch I picked up at the farmers’ market and a chicken that needed cooking. That night Lemongrass Grilled Chicken (page 109) was born. Hopefully recipes such as these will provide you with ideas when you have random ingredients but aren’t sure what to make for dinner.
There is also hope for my girls, who love to help at their aunt and uncle’s vegetable garden and in the kitchen, where they can be counted on to peel fava beans and shuck corn. And Elsie, my youngest, eats crunchy salads and artichoke leaves with abandon and seems to hold promise as a budding mangiafoglie.
Asparagus, Artichoke & Chickpea Ragout Serves 4
Use the asparagus stems in the Asparagus Stalk Stock (page 47) and the leftover artichoke leaves in the Roasted Artichoke Leaves (page 123).
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 artichokes, trimmed
to the heart and tender inner leaves (see Prep Tip,
page 122), and sliced into 1⁄2-inch wedges
1 cup sliced spring onion
1⁄4 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups Asparagus Stalk Stock (page 47) or other vegetable or chicken broth
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bunch asparagus
(1 pound), trimmed and cut into 11⁄2-inch lengths
11⁄2 to 2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper
My three favorite vegetables form a trinity of A words: asparagus, artichokes, and avocado. (Okay, avocado is really a fruit; see page 159.) As a native Californian, I was raised on these three foods, and this recipe happily includes two of them. With their heady flavor and meaty texture, seared artichoke hearts make an intriguing contrast with sweet, tender pieces of asparagus. This vegetarian stew combines them with chickpeas in a light broth flavored with a springtime combination of mint, thyme, and lemon. Serve the ragout in bowls with bread on the side, or over penne pasta with shaved Parmesan.
Note: When trimming the artichoke hearts, be sure to remove all dark green parts, which are tough and inedible.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the artichoke hearts, onion, and red chile flakes and sauté until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the asparagus stock and the salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the artichoke hearts are tender when pierced with a knife, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring, over medium heat until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the remaining 1 cup stock with the chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, mint, and thyme. Simmer until the flavors come together, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, and serve.
Excerpted from Root-to-Stalk Cooking by Tara Duggan. Copyright © 2013 by Tara Duggan. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.