Misunderstood Vegetables: How to Fall in Love with Sunchokes, Rutabaga, Eggplant and More (Paperback)
Go from “what the heck is this” to “how does it taste so good” in this celebration of misfit vegetables.
Maybe you just discovered celery root (a lumpy, softball-sized bulb), at the grocery store. Or perhaps you received watermelon radishes in a CSA package. Did a parsnip catch your eye at the farmers’ market? Even vegetables you think you know, like cabbage or brussels sprouts, will reveal next-level flavor with the right recipe. Becky Selengut has made it her mission to take less popular—or even outright scorned vegetables like beets and okra—and cook them into irresistible dishes. It’s all about knowing how to cook or serve them and what herbs and spices to incorporate. In Misunderstood Vegetables, Selengut highlights 25 vegetables, with recipes alongside history, step-by-step preparation, and storage tips. Organized by season, recipes include Feta and Citrus Salad, Charred Chard with Spicy Chile Oil, and Celery Root Gratin. A must-have for the plant-curious, this cookbook will have readers seeking out unusual and underused produce like never before.
— Florence Fabricant, Front Burner, New York Times
Selengut, a chef, culinary instructor, food journalist, and author of cookbooks, including IACP Book Award finalist Good Fish, believes there is no such thing as a bad vegetable; there are just misunderstood ones. Writing with a dry sense of humor and a zesty enthusiasm, she plays matchmaker between 25 different wallflower vegetables—fava beans, nettles, fennel, beets—and shy cooks who have yet to discover their gastronomic potential. The cookbook is arranged seasonally, with each vegetable receiving an overview providing historic, scientific, and nutritional information, along with tips on purchasing, storing, cooking, and substitutions, followed by a small selection of clearly written recipes featuring the misunderstood vegetable. Gorgeous color photographs and bonuses such as a recipe for homemade ricotta (for the fava bean, sweet pea, and ricotta dip) round out this stellar cookbook. VERDICT: Even with the bounty of excellent vegetable-focused cookbooks that are available (such as Deborah Madison’s brilliant Vegetable Literacy and Abra Berens’s thoughtful Ruffage), this effortlessly entertaining and endlessly empowering book deserves its own spot in every kitchen.
— Library Journal, starred review
In this informative and inspiring collection, private chef Selengut (Shroom) invites readers to consider (or reconsider) 25 oft-neglected vegetables, including “the gnarled root, the twisted tuber, [and] the prickly green.” Lovely photos and vivid descriptions accompany three recipes per vegetable, all organized by season. Acknowledging that what’s “unfamiliar” varies by culture and exposure (okra is better known in the South, for example), Selengut offers shopping, prepping, and cooking tips, all of which are crucial for a first encounter with an artichoke, the stick-shaped burdock, or a tomatillo, and shares what to expect in terms of flavor and texture. Nettles are hard to find, but “supremely tasty” in creamy scrambled eggs with nettle pesto. The edible flowers that blossom from squash plants are not only attractive, they allow cooks to make use of the whole vegetable; stuffing one is “fiddly” but, Selengut asserts, worth the resulting “melt-in-your-mouth blossoms.” Recipes include classics and inventive twists: Saag paneer made with mustard greens brings out that vegetable’s “horseradish-like sharpness”; a kohlrabi slaw with apples, herbs, and mustard seed dressing promises to take home chefs outside their “cabbage coleslaw comfort zone”; and jicama elotes play on the flavors of Mexican street corn. For curious cooks looking to branch out, this exploratory introduction will be invaluable. (Feb.)
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
These are the choice ones, the wonderfully weird ones, the vegetables that chefs, till now, have kept secret, just for us. But to know them is to love them and, with Misunderstood Vegetables, Becky Selengut has spilled the (fava) beans and now everyone can begin to understand their ugly beauty in delicious ways that are, even to longtime fans like me, exciting and new.
— Cal Peternell, author of Burnt Toast and Other Disasters
Misunderstood Vegetables--its breadth of vegetable knowledge, practical cooking tips, and creative recipes--has reinvigorated my love for veggies, including the turnips and radishes I have (mistakenly) avoided for years.
— Nisha Vora, creator of Rainbow Plant Life
Becky Selengut is a superb teacher with a keen understanding of flavor, and she knows how to coax the best qualities out of her ingredients. This inspired collection of easy-to-follow recipes will guarantee your produce bins are never boring again.
— Jerry Traunfeld, chef, vegetable lover, and author of The Herbfarm Cookbook and The Herbal Kitchen
In Misunderstood Vegetables, Selengut offers an ethos of redemption and respect, diversity and inclusion, acceptance and love. That might sound like a lot for a book about vegetables, but it’s a book about vegetables beautifully done.
— Bethany Jean Clement, Seattle Times