09 July 2016

Weekend Cooking: The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: The Vegetable Butcher by Cara ManginiOne of the best kitchen resources I've come across in a while is Cara Mangini's The Vegetable Butcher. This A to Z guide to buying, storing, prepping, and cooking vegetables will give you confidence in the store, at the farmers' market, and in the kitchen. It may also encourage you to try vegetables you've never eaten or cooked before.

Because the book is published by Workman, you know it will be a pleasure to use. The Vegetable Butcher is filled with gorgeous photographs, useful icons, and well-edited recipes. This is a book I am unconditionally recommending to everyone, from experienced cooks to beginners.

Each chapter of the book offers a comprehensive guide to a different vegetable (or vegetable family). Clear photos and easy-to-understand text illustrate exactly how to prepare, trim, and cut the veggie. In addition, you'll learn when and how to buy it, how to store it, and how to cook it. Mangini answers all the vegetable questions you've been afraid to ask, such as
  • Do I need to peel eggplant?
  • Can I eat the carrot leaves?
  • How can I reduce the sliminess of okra?
  • What do I do with crosnes (and what the heck are they anyway)?
The range of vegetables covered are all the common ones, of course, plus some that might be new to you, like scorzonera, and some that you may have been mystified by, like sunchokes. There is also a section on buying and using fresh herbs as well as information about tools and pantry items. See the scan (click to enlarge), which shows the opening page of the cauliflower chapter, to get an idea of what to expect in The Vegetable Butcher.

The recipes require a range of skills, from very simple techniques like sauteing and grilling to making pizza, pot pies, vegetable steaks, soups and stews, and savory crepes. What's more, Mangini hasn't forgotten your sweet tooth, and you'll find desserts such as muffins, cakes, and crumbles. All the recipes are vegetarian (at least I don't remember seeing any meat) and many are also vegan.

I particularly like the two levels of recipes found in The Vegetable Butcher. Naturally, you'll find detailed recipes with step-by-step directions, but you'll also find short recipes that are written in a more conversational manner. These informal recipes are meant to bridge the gap between offering a simple basic cooking method and providing a specific recipe. As you build up confidence in the kitchen (or if you're already there), these latter recipes will serve as springboards to creativity and personalizing your dishes.

I've marked a number of recipes to try, including sweet potato tacos, zucchini olive oil cake, marinated peppers, Swiss chard crostata, shredded Brussels sprouts with Manchego cheese, and Turkish potato salad. I'm also making a promise to myself to learn all about buying and using some of the vegetables I generally bypass at the market, like cardoons and sunchokes.

As I said at the top of this post, I am recommending Cara Mangini's The Vegetable Butcher to all cooks, no matter what your skill level. This is a great resource for people who want to explore new vegetables, learn new techniques, eat more healthful foods, and add more vegetarian meals to their rotation. I will be turning to this book over and over again. For more on Magini and some recipes, visit her website.

Note: All photos are from the book and are used in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder(s).

Published by Workman, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780761180524
Source: review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Mae Travels 7/9/16, 7:09 AM  

"The Vegetable Butcher" does sound like a good resource, and the recipes you mention have a good vibe.

I linked to my July 4 post (technically last weekend not this) because for once I baked a cake, based on the show I planned to watch in last week's post. After a while I'll have a post from this weekend too.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Tina 7/9/16, 7:34 AM  

I've never heard of crosnes or sunchokes. Interesting book and great resource. The okra question would be a good one for me. I like okra but sometimes it is slimy. That's just gross! our veggie intake has increased at least 3 fold lately, especially as I am trying to shed vacation pounds. Will certainly check it out.

bermudaonion 7/9/16, 7:48 AM  

We love vegetables around here so this sounds fantastic to me!

Jackie Mc Guinness 7/9/16, 8:34 AM  

I seem to waste a lot of vegetables either because I over buy when at the market or simply forget about them in the fridge. I have great plans for a recipe and then before I know it the 2 zucchini that I was going to use have grown mould.

Katherine P 7/9/16, 11:44 AM  

This sounds like a book I need. I'm trying to expand my vegetable repertoire so we can have a broader number of side dishes but there are so many I just don't feel like I know what to do with. I'll definitely have to check this book out.

Deb in Hawaii 7/9/16, 12:25 PM  

I bypassed this book on the Costco table a while back because of my *way too many cookbooks* problem but I have been kicking myself ever since--even more so since reading your review. ;-) With the wealth of vegetarian and vegan recipes and details, it may need to end up on my shelves after all! Great review.

rhapsodyinbooks 7/9/16, 1:53 PM  

I love when they don't assume you know the answer to "stupid" questions, which certainly makes *me* skip a lot of recipes!

Margot 7/9/16, 2:34 PM  

This sounds like a great resource for a kitchen library. My daughter-in-law loves to experiment with new vegetables and fruits. You've just given me an idea for my next gift to her. Thanks.

Nan 7/9/16, 3:56 PM  

I love the idea of the book, and what it contains, but I hate the title. I suppose it will attract attention, but it puts this vegetarian off. I think I'll stick with the Marcella Hazan book you wrote about!

Carole 7/10/16, 12:26 AM  

I;m late to the party. Got immersed in the tennis - way to go Serena! Cheers from Caorle's Chatter

Claudia 7/10/16, 3:54 AM  

What a great resource! I often have questions about infrequently used, or unusual vegetables. Will check it out.

nishitak 7/10/16, 5:32 AM  

Oh wow! Sounds like a terrific book to buy and keep. It's true I am often baffled by some of the more exotic vegetables on our supermarket shelves, and am too intimidated to try them.

Melynda Brown 7/10/16, 8:31 AM  

This will be on my list to purchase. I started a few years ago to eat more vegetables and when I look at the recipes I have posted, their numbers have gone WAY up. Thanks for hosting.

(Diane) bookchickdi 7/10/16, 4:28 PM  

This is one useful book. And I would love to make sweet potato tacos!

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