Pete_9781607740261_4p_001_r1.indd 2

12/1/11 3:41 PM

revised edition

The most authoritative guide 
to buying, preparing, and cooking, 
with more than 300 recipes

James Peterson

Ten Speed Press

Pete_9781607740261_4p_001_r1.indd 3


12/1/11 3:41 PM





Part I

Skills for Preparing and
Cooking Vegetables


K nife skills


Methods of Cooking


Making Salads


Making Gr atins and Casseroles


Making Stews


Making Soups


Making pasta, Gnocchi, and Risottos


Making Pur eed Vegetables


Part II

The Vegetables: A to Z

3 60

Butters and Sauces
Broths and Concentr ated broths

3 78


3 91

Ack nowledgments


Pete_9781607740261_4p_001_r1.indd 4

12/1/11 3:42 PM

Pete_9781607740261_4p_001_r1.indd 5

12/1/11 3:42 PM


W hen I set out to w r ite the first edition of Vegetables in 1996, I went

to the local bookstore to look at other vegetable books. I almost gave up
when I saw hundreds of books about vegetables and several shelves full of
vegetarian books, which made up one of the largest sections in the store.
But as I flipped through the books, and after giving my newly conceived
vegetable project a little thought, I realized that what I wanted to write
was different. In my perusal of the competition I found few recipes for
the simplest dishes—things like glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, sautéed
spinach, and steamed asparagus—dishes to cook on a Wednesday evening
with a house full of kids and after a day at the office. Some of the books
extolled the virtues of shopping at the local farmers’ market (who could
disagree?), but they didn’t mention those winter days when the only source
of vegetables may be the supermarket. And while it’s great to cook with
lovely fresh or even heirloom vegetables, it’s more of a challenge to make
something tasty out of a few beans or a bag of supermarket mushrooms.
So I decided to write a book that would include not just new or unfamiliar
dishes but also the tried-and-true dishes that many of us grew up with. I
also wanted to liven up many of these dishes by adding new twists—like
folding pesto or roasted garlic into mashed potatoes or pine nuts and
raisins to sautéed spinach.
At the same time, I decided to include simple new ways (new to us but
traditional in other places) to cook less-familiar vegetables, such as kale,
Swiss chard, fennel, and escarole. Many of these dishes were based on
memories of meals in great restaurants or of travels to foreign countries;
some were last-minute inventions made up after out-of-control buying
sprees at the farmers’ market. The purpose of some of these recipes was, of
course, to provide new tastes and combinations, but also to offer simple,
flavorful, and lighter alternatives to “traditional” methods.
It’s now fourteen years since the publication of the first edition of
Vegetables, and as books do, Vegetables went out of print. I (along with my
publisher, Ten Speed Press) saw an opportunity to republish Vegetables


Pete_9781607740261_4p_001_r1.indd 6

12/1/11 3:42 PM

with full-color photography. We have now included photographs of most
of the vegetables and many of the recipes.
In addition to new color photography, this revised edition contains more
than thirty new vegetable entries, fifty new recipes, and a new section on
herbs. Chopping and dicing have been more thoroughly explained, and
the book now has a thirty-page techniques section that explains (and
sometimes shows) every method you might need to cook a vegetable. The
new vegetable entries are mostly for Asian vegetables, although a few European ones (salsify, crosnes) have made their way in. The herb section covers
all the common herbs, as well as lesser-known varieties (rue, epazote).
In the years since Vegetables was first published, American tastes have
changed. We have stirred away from a richer and more subtly flavored
European-influenced cuisine, to the direct flavors, bold variations in
texture, and bright colors of Asian cooking. To accommodate this, I have
spent many a morning in Chinatown trying to unravel the mysteries of
Asian vegetables. The results of these endeavors are found throughout the
book as I’ve taken some of these exotic and not-so-exotic beans and lentils,
gourds, herbs, and rhizomes home to my kitchen laboratory for experimentation. Many of them I have cooked using traditional techniques and
flavorings, but others have called out for completely new treatments.
This new edition of Vegetables is divided into two sections, the extensive technique section followed by an alphabetical listing of the vegetables
themselves. Once you’ve read the technique section, the techniques called
for in the recipes should all be familiar. Hopefully, with the knowledge
of those techniques, you’ll be able to improvise with both familiar and
unfamiliar vegetables. For example, the section on gratins—probably
better known as casseroles—analyzes which liquids (cream, béchamel
sauce, broth, coconut milk, and so on) are most appropriate. It shows how
cooking times and temperatures influence the final result and how various
toppings can be used to create a crust. Armed with this knowledge, a new
idea or recipe for a gratin should be easily accommodated and mastered.
But the new Vegetables is not just about techniques. It also explores the
flavor combinations used in many of the world’s great cuisines. Unlike
many fusion dishes that have no tradition behind them, the dishes in
Vegetables are firmly grounded in the cultural habits of various peoples
working in the kitchen.
In short, armed with this new edition, you can embark on new culinary
adventures and feel free to improvise in the kitchen. Once you have the
basic understanding of how each vegetable behaves, coupled with a familiarity with the techniques that are used in its preparation, your flights of
fancy will be well grounded in the realities of those treatments best suited
to your preparations.

I n t ro d u c t i o n

Pete_9781607740261_4p_001_r1.indd 7


12/1/11 3:42 PM

Artichoke, Morel, and Salsify Salad
This luxurious salad is easy to make once you have the various elements trimmed
and precooked. If you’re using dried morels, there’s no need to precook them but
if you’re using fresh, they need to be sautéed in a little olive oil. (Don’t use butter
or it will congeal when the mushrooms cool.)

1 pound fresh morels, or 1 ounce

Makes 6 first-course servings

1 lemon

If youre using fresh morels, sauté them for about 5 minutes in the 3 tablespoons
of the pure olive oil over high heat until they smell fragrant. If you’re using dried
morels, soak them in just enough warm water to come halfway up their sides for
30 minutes. Squeeze out the water.

4 large artichokes, prepared as
shown on page 97

Peel the salsify and rub each root with a half a lemon. Cut the salsify into 2- to
3-inch pieces. Squeeze the lemon halves into the 4 quarts of water (don’t add the
whole halves or the salsify will taste like lemon furniture polish) in a large pot.
Add the salsify and simmer in salted water until the salsify can be penetrated
with a knife, but still offers some resistance (about the same as a perfectly cooked
artichoke), about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool.

3 tablespoons pure olive oil
4 salsify roots

1/ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
for dressing

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, plus
more to taste
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh
parsley or fennel fronds
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Toss together the morels, salsify, artichokes, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar,
and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve within an hour or two.

Artichoke, Morel, and Salsify Salad.


T h e V e g e ta b l e s : A to Z

Pete_9781607740261_4p_003_r1.indd 292

12/1/11 3:25 PM

Fennel, Orange, and Walnut Salad
In the south of France, a strip of dried orange zest often goes into meat and fish
stews. Fennel is also popular—the dried twigs are used for grilling seafood and
the bulbs are used as a flavoring in bouillabaisse and other seafood soups and
stews. The combination of fennel and orange is a good one, and the texture of
the walnuts (you can also use pecans) provides an intriguing crunch, similar to, yet
contrasting with, that of the fennel.
Makes 6 first-course servings

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Toast the walnuts on a sheet pan in for about 15 minutes or until they darken
slightly and smell fragrant.

1/ 2 cup shelled walnut halves or

2 fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/ 4

cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small white onion
3 navel oranges

Pull off a small handful of the green frizzy fennel fronds and reserve. Cut off the
stalks where they join the bulbs and discard or reserve for broth or grilling. Peel
the outer fibers off the fennel bulbs with a paring knife or peeler and trim a thin
slice off the root ends.
Slice the fennel bulbs crosswise as thinly as you can with a vegetable slicer. Immediately toss the slices with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the onion as thinly as you can—a vegetable slicer is best for this—and rub
the slices with 1 teaspoon salt. Drain the slices in a colander for 15 minutes and
then grab them up in your hand and squeeze as much water out of them as you
can. Put the onion in the bowl with the fennel.
Cut the oranges into rounds or wedges and very gently toss together the walnuts,
orange slices, onion, fennel, salt, and pepper until everything is well coated with
lemon juice and olive oil. Coarsely chop the reserved fennel fronds and sprinkle
them over the salad. Serve at the table.
Var iation:

I sometimes combine this salad with top halves of 2 bunches of watercress (which
will make it enough for eight) and/or 8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into
strips and arranged around and over the salads on the plates.

F e n n e l

Pete_9781607740261_4p_002_r1.indd 199

Fennel, Orange, and Walnut Salad


12/1/11 3:34 PM

Squash “Spaghetti” with Tomatoes and Basil
Spaghetti squash makes a lean and unexpected alternative to regular pasta and a
delightful surprise for jaded guests and family.

1 (2- to 3-pound) spaghetti squash

Makes 4 main-course servings

5 cups Quick Tomato Sauce,
including the basil (page 337)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and place it on an oiled sheet pan, flat side
down. Bake for about 1 hour, until easily penetrated with a skewer. Pull the spaghetti out with a fork so it separates into strands.

1 tablespoon pure olive oil (optional)

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

If the spaghetti was baked in advance and has grown cold, reheat it in a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Pour over the
heated tomato sauce, toss or stir gently, and serve on hot plates. Pass the Parmesan
cheese at the table.

Squash “Spaghetti” with Tomatoes and Basil.

W i n t e r S q u a s h

Pete_9781607740261_4p_003_r1.indd 359


12/1/11 3:28 PM

Pan-Fried Sage-Scented Zucchini Pancakes
These delightful little pancakes make a great side dish any time of the year. You
can substitute other herbs—marjoram, oregano, thyme—for the sage or Parmesan cheese for the flour (see variation). The zucchini mixture can be prepared
ahead of time so you’ll need only to form the pancakes just before cooking.
Makes 4 side-dish servings (4 pancakes )

Cut off the ends of the zucchini and cut the zucchini crosswise in half so you end
up with 2 pieces about 4 inches long. Using a vegetable slicer or by hand, slice
each of the zucchini pieces lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. With a chef’s
knife, slice each of these into 1/8-inch-wide julienne strips. (If you have a French
mandoline you can use the julienne blades to julienne the zucchini in one step.)
Rub the salt into the zucchini strips until the salt dissolves and you can’t feel the
grains. Drain the zucchini in a colander for 30 minutes.

4 medium zucchini
11/ 2 tablespoons coarse salt
3 cloves garlic, minced and crushed
to a paste
9 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 /4

cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the garlic, sage, and 6 tablespoons of the flour in a small mixing bowl.
Stir the water into the flour mixture and work to a smooth paste with a small
Spread the remaining 6 tablespoons flour on a work surface.
Squeeze the zucchini in small batches in a tight fist to extract as much water as
you can. Gently stir the zucchini into the flour-water mixture and season with
pepper. Form the mixture into hamburger-shaped pancakes about 1/2 inch thick
and about 4 inches across and gently flour them on both sides.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan or cast-iron
skillet. (If you don’t have a large enough pan, you’ll have to make the pancakes
in two batches.) Gently slide the pancakes into the hot oil. Cook for about
7 minutes on the first side until golden brown. Gently turn the patties over with
a spatula and cook for 5 minutes on the other side—flatten them from time to
time with the back of a spatula to compress them and make them thinner. Serve
immediately or reserve in a 200˚F oven for up to 30 minutes.

Flipping zucchini cakes.

Var iation:

Replace the flour in the sage and garlic mixture and the flour for coating with
the same amount of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Don’t add any
water to the sage-garlic-cheese mixture.

Pan-Fried Sage-Scented Zucchini Cakes.

S u mm e r S q u a s h a n d Z u c c h i n i

Pete_9781607740261_4p_003_r1.indd 319


12/1/11 3:26 PM

Copyright © 2012 by James Peterson
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the
Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Originally published in the United States by William Morrow and
Company, Inc., New York, in 1998.
Ten Speed Press and the Ten Speed Press colophon are registered
trademarks of Random House Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Peterson, James.
Vegetables / by James Peterson. — Rev. ed.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Cooking (Vegetables) I. Title.
TX801.P49 2012
ISBN 978-1-60774-026-1
eISBN 978-1-60774-205-0
Printed in China
Design by Nancy Austin
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Ten Speed Press Edition

Pete_9781607740261_4p_003_r1.indd 392

12/1/11 3:28 PM