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debor ah


v e g e ta b l e l i t e r ac y

Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the
Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes

Photography by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton


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Introduction ~ 1 • A Few Notes about Ingredients ~ 5

chapter one ~ The Carrot Family: Some Basic Kitchen Vegetables and a Passel of Herbs
(Umbelliferae or Apiaceae) ~ 9
chapter two ~ The Mint Family: Square Stems and Fragrant Leaves (Labiatae or Lamiaceae) ~ 45
chapter three ~ The Sunflower Family: Some Rough Stuff from Out of Doors
(Compositae or Asteraceae) ~ 59
chapter four ~ The Knotweed Family: Three Strong Personalities (Polygonaceae) ~ 103
chapter five ~ The Cabbage Family: The Sometimes Difficult Crucifers (Brassicaceae or Cruciferae) ~ 117
chapter six ~ The Nightshade Family: The Sun Lovers (Solanaceae) ~ 173
chapter seven ~ The Goosefoot and Amaranth Families: Edible Weeds, Leaves, and Seeds
(Amaranthaceae and Chenopodiaceae) ~ 215
chapter eight ~ The (Former) Lily Family: Onions and Asparagus (Liliaceae) ~ 243
chapter nine ~ The Cucurbit Family: The Sensual Squashes, Melons, and Gourds (Cucurbitaceae) ~ 277
chapter ten ~ The Grass Family: Grains and Cereals (Poaceae, formerly Gramineae) ~ 299
chapter eleven ~ The Legume Family: Peas and Beans (Leguminosae or Fabaceae) ~ 333
chapter twelve ~ The Morning Glory Family: The Sweet Potato (Convolvulaceae) ~ 385

Acknowledgments ~ 391 • Sources ~ 393 • Bibliography ~ 395 • Index ~ 396

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With Gorgonzola Butter: Toss the cabbage with
Gorgonzola Butter (page 155) or crumbled blue cheese.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. When hot, add the
onion, turn to coat it with the oil, and cook for a minute to sear and soften. Add the garlic, then the cabbage,
and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Immediately begin
turning it in the pan to wilt it evenly. You don’t want to
fully cook it, just wilt it; two minutes should be enough
time. Remove the pan from the heat, toss the cabbage
with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, then taste and
add more if sharpness is desired. Toss with the herbs.
Season with more salt, if needed, and plenty of pepper.
Transfer the cabbage to a platter, mounding it in a heap,
then shower with the crumbled goat feta. Finish with
the extra mint leaves and serve.

With Dill: Season the cabbage with plenty of chopped
dill and dill seeds and slivered green onions.
With Mustard Butter: Finish the cabbage with Mustard
Butter with Lemon Zest and Shallot (page 132) or any
of the other mustard-based sauces.
With Toasted Bread Crumbs and Rosemary: Sprinkle the
cabbage with toasted bread crumbs mixed with rosemary or another favored herb to give it crunch and
another layer of flavor.

Wilted Red Cabbage with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce: Make the
salad as above, minus the goat feta, but use plenty of
dill. Make the Tahini-Yogurt Sauce below and spoon it
over the cabbage, or serve it on the side. Optional, but
good if you wish to emphasize the sesame element, finish with toasted sesame seeds and a few drops roasted
sesame oil. Dukkah is another crunchy, compatible

Wilted Red Cabbage with
Mint and Goat Feta
For 2 to 4
I prefer a lightly wilted, warm red cabbage salad to the
same vegetable uncooked for its lush color and more
tender texture. The thinner you slice the cabbage, the
more tender it will be. A mandoline is a good tool to use
here, or a very sharp knife.
I don’t think I’ve made this the same way ever.
Cabbage is so compatible with herbs and seeds of all
kinds, from fennel greens, to fragrant dill to caraway
seeds, lovage to marjoram, olive to sesame. Here’s one
version to start with, and another to follow. { Pictured
opposite }

tahini-yogurt sauce
Makes a scant 3/4 cup
1 clove garlic
Sea salt
/2 cup yogurt
3 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, quartered through the stem end and
thinly sliced crosswise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
4 cups packed very finely sliced red cabbage (a scant pound)
Sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper
Crumbled goat feta plus whole mint leaves, to finish

Pound the garlic in a mortar with 1/4 teaspoon salt until
smooth. Stir the garlic mixture into the yogurt, then stir
in the tahini, mixing well. Taste for salt.

the cabbage family

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Griddled Scallop Squash

Summer Squash Tartines with
Rosemary and Lemon

For 1

For 4

Oil, salt, and pepper are all I put on this squash because
it has such a good flavor of its own. Of course, there are
a hundred and one seasonings that you could use with
the squash and they’d all be good. But for starters, try it
like this. Scallop squash are delicious grilled over charcoal as well.

It’s amazing what you can do with just one squash and
less than five minutes. Choose the best, creamiest ricotta
for these bites. Marjoram, dill, and basil are other good
herb choices. { Pictured opposite }
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 or 2 summer squash (about 8 ounces in all), very thinly
Scant 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 long pieces of baguette, sliced diagonally
Olive oil and garlic for the bread
/2 cup ricotta cheese

Olive oil
1 scallop squash, 3 to 4 inches across at the widest part
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lemon wedge

Brush a ridged cast-iron pan with olive oil, going over
and between the ridges, and place over medium heat.
While the pan is heating, which takes several minutes,
cut the squash crosswise into slices a scant 1/2 inch thick:
/4 inch will be too thin and 1/2 inch will be a little too
thick, so between the two is just right.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the squash, sauté for 1 minute or so to warm, then
add a splash of water and cover. Cook over medium-high
heat until the squash is soft, about 3 minutes. Remove
the lid, add the rosemary and lemon zest, toss it with the
squash, and then season with salt and pepper.

When the pan is hot, add the squash slices and cook
without moving them for about 5 minutes. Rotate each
piece 45 degrees and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn
the slices over and cook on the second side the same
way. The second side may take less time because the pan
will have amassed more heat. When the squash is ready,
it will look slightly translucent. Remove the slices to a
plate and season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon
wedge to the plate if you like a little acid, then sit down
and enjoy some true squash flavor.

Lightly brush the cut surface of the baguette pieces with
olive oil, then toast until golden and crisp. While the
bread is hot, rub the cut surfaces with the garlic. Spread
the baguette pieces with the ricotta, then overlap the
squash on top. Season with a bit more pepper and serve.

With Sauces: Serve with any number of sauces, such as
Romesco Sauce (page 186), salsas verdes of all kinds,
Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt (page 105), and Tahini-Yogurt
Sauce (page 122).
In a Tortilla: Tuck the griddled squash into a soft, warm
corn or wheat tortilla, add crumbled goat cheese,
and drizzle with Cilantro Salsa with Basil and Mint
(page 41).
With Other Varieties: Try Ronde de Nice zucchini, even
Delicata. Layer them on a platter interspersed with slivered basil leaves or chopped marjoram and dribble over
a few drops of your favorite vinegar.

the cucurbit family

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Peanut Sauce Made with
Whole Peanuts

Peanut Butter Cookies Studded
with Salted Roasted Peanuts

Makes about 1 cup

Makes about 30 two-inch cookies

Although we have good peanut butter now—freshly
made, organic, unadulterated with sugar and additional
oil—I prefer making a peanut sauce from roasted peanuts. Somehow, it’s just better. Many interesting ingredients can go into peanut sauce (see variations). In the
end, it’s very much about your own taste—whether
you lean toward the sweet, hot, or salty. Many peanut
sauces include fish sauce and some cooks prefer to add
granulated sugar rather than brown. Taste as you go to
get your sauce the way you like it. Where to use it? With
pan-seared tofu, noodles of all kinds, over rice, or with
grilled eggplant and sweet potatos.

These cookies, which are pretty addictive if you’re a peanut butter fan, have the texture of pecan sandies, short
and crumbly and not too sweet. Because they’re chunky
with the additon of peanuts, they don’t carry the classic
imprint of fork tines. { Pictured opposite }
2 cups flour such as all-purpose, spelt, or white whole wheat
1 teaspoon baking powder
/2 teaspoon baking soda
A scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
/2 cup butter, at room temperature
/3 cup smooth or chunky organic peanut butter
/4 cup roasted peanut oil or light peanut oil
1 cup light brown sugar
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
/2 cup or more salted roasted peanuts

1 cup roasted peanuts, preferably unsalted
1 tablespoon roasted peanut oil or toasted sesame oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 or 2 limes
2 plump cloves garlic, chopped
4 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
/2 teaspoon prepared Thai roasted chile paste (nahm
prik pao)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
/2 cup coconut milk or water
Sea salt

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda,
and salt to blend them. In a stand mixer fitted with the
paddle attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter, and
oil on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Blend
in the brown sugar. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, and
vanilla and beat until smoothly blended. Turn the speed
to low, add the flour mixture and mix just until it’s well
incorporated, then stir in the peanuts.

Combine the peanuts, oil, lime zest and juice, garlic,
tamari, chile paste, brown sugar, and about two-thirds
of the coconut milk in a food processor and pulse until
smooth. The sauce should be thick but somewhat fluid.
If it seems too thick, add in the remaining coconut milk
or water. Taste for heat, salt, and sugar and adjust accordingly. Store any unused sauce in the refrigerator. It will
keep for a week.

Scoop up heaping tablespoons of the dough and drop
them onto the pans, spacing them about 11/2 inches
Bake the cookies, switching the pans between the racks
midway through baking, until lightly browned around
the edges, about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely
on the pans before removing.

With Tamarind: To sharpen the flavor of the sauce, add
/2 to 1 teaspoon tamarind paste.
With Cilantro: Include 1 cup chopped cilantro and 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves for a greener, fresher sauce.

With Chocolate: If you’re a fan of peanut butter and
chocolate, you’ve probably already thought of adding
chunks of chocolate to the dough. A cup will be plenty.

With Different Heat: Add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or
chipotle chile powder in place of the Thai chile paste.

the legume family

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