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May 29, 2007 11:17 AM

Best Cookbooks--cooking with fresh vegetables, for omnivores?

I'm thrilled! I've joined a CSA and, finally, we're about to get our first delivery of produce for the season. (We only get about 90 frost free days a year, so the local produce "season" starts late and ends early...usually, mid to late September.) I expect to have LOTS of vegetables to use up every week over the next several months.

Do you have any favorite cookbooks you recommend for using up lots of fresh produce, particularly summer produce? I see lots of posts out there about "vegetarian" cookbooks, and I'll investigate some of those, but we aren't vegetarians, so I thought I'd throw a slightly more general question out there. We're looking for ways to use up lots of vegetables, but don't need (or necessarily want) the recipes to be vegetarian.

It can get unsufferably hot here June-August and we hate to heat up the kitchen, so if you know of cookbooks with recipes that are particularly grill friendly (we own every gas grill accessory known to humankind) or don't require long heating times in the oven or on the stovetop, I would especially grateful.

EDIT--one more thought--if we have too many vegetables, we'll probably start freezing them as we have a deep-freeze, so if there are any recipes particularly well-suited to freezing, I guess those would be good to know about, too, assuming there is such a thing.

Thank you!


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  1. I don't even know if this book is still in print, but my absolute favorite produce cookbook is Too Many Tomatoes. My own copy (given to me by my husband who grew up in a gardening family while I did not) is tattered, torn, and taped, and I still use it constantly.

    1. My favorite summer time cooking is Vietnamese. Light, fresh, lots of veg and herbs. I have several Vietnamese cookbooks which I love. My current favorite is the new book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen. South central Indiana get very hot and humid in the summer and we really appreciate the lightness and diversity of the Vietnamese recipes.

      1. Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco has a wonderful cookbook organized by season and vegetable. Definitely recommend a trip to experince this market in person and pick up the cookbook.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dpnpt

          I'm glad to see this, as I bought this for my mom for Christmas and I don't know if she's used it yet. Could you suggest a few of your favorite recipes from the ferry cookbook? I used to adore Saturday mornings at that ferry market. I lived in Oakland and took the ferry over to SF.

        2. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

          This is the go-to book for me with vegetables. She divides the book by vegetable, so you can look up zucchini, for example, and immediately find a detailed description of how to clean and cook, plus at least five or six recipes featuring that ingredient. This is an excellent book, one of my favorites. I flip right to whichever veggie tempts me at the market and then comes the hard part: deciding which of her many inventive recipes to try! Lots of these are sides which could also work as main dishes - so even though you're not vegetarian, this book would be an excellent resource. It's about 750 pages so you'll never run out of ideas with this one!

          3 Replies
          1. re: foxy fairy

            I'm with you; "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" is an excellent book. The recipes in it consistently work.

            1. re: inuksuk

              I second and third this recommendation. I love Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone!

            2. re: foxy fairy

              Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is my go to cookbook, but it is vegetarian. For some recipes that include meat, you might look at one of Deborah Madison's other books, Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets. It's a lovely celebration of markets and local food, and it includes recipes with meat.

            3. Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster of Foster's Market in North Carolina. I received this for Christmas a couple of years ago and it's a wonderful cookbook. As far as grilling, look into Steven Raichlen's grilling cookbooks. My favorite is the Barbeque Bible which has plenty of side dishes in it.