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Which books do you use when you have a pile of stuff from the farmer's market and don't know what to do with it?

I do this all the time - hey! cool! cardoons! Wow! Purslane! Black salsify! I buy a bunch of stuff, and then try to figure out what I'm going to do with them.

I find I regularly turn to 4 cookbooks in this situation (plus my recipe files, Every once in a while, NYT and LA Times have great features focusing on one obscure vegetable, so I save the recipes, and wait for the veggies to show up)

"Chez Panisse Vegetables"
Faith Willinger, "Red, White, and Greens"
Alfred Portale, "12 Seasons"
Suzanne Goin, "Sunday Suppers at Lucques"

Any other recommendations? I see that "Vegetable Harvest" is this month's cookbook - would people consider it a worthwhile addition?

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  1. I've only started this summer to really base a lot of my cooking on going to the farmer's market and it's been a fun adventure, though I often have to stop at the store as well to supplement. I've enjoyed most of the things I've cooked so far from VH - meant to make the Avocado "ravioli" with crabmeat last night - perfect avocado, and when I opened the crabmeat it was bad - such a bummer! But I'd say that and Lucques are what I've been using, along with "Think Like a Chef" by Colicchio. I posted a bunch of links on one of the VH threads - I think you can get to it from the post at the top of the board - so you might find some inspiration there without buying the book. Thinking about making the beet tartare tonight - I'm making her sardine en papillotte recipe for dinner. It's a rainy day here so I may also make her roasted tomato sauce to freeze - the tomatoes at the market today are clearing on the wane in terms of flavor. I also bought some pears to make a pear/prune/saffron compote of sorts to serve with cheese.

    3 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        In addition to my cookbooks, I go to epicurious.com and type in the ingredient at hand. Have often gotten interesting recipes and ideas that way (most recently for grilled artichokes), and find the attached reviews to be really helpful.

        1. re: janeh

          I also go to epicurious and type in a few of the veggies and search through the recipes that pop and see which one inspires me. I love the reviews too. often times you can find out what's off in a recipe before you make it just by reading the reviews... then you can make the needed changes.

    1. I actually will do Google searches to find out how best to use farmer's market bounty. Often you can find obscure blogs from people of all types of nationality, ethnicity, whatever, who use these ingredients regularly. These can point you in directions that you've never considered and provide a unique alternative to the rustic-y/Mediterranean-inspired cooking that so dominates the epicurean scene.
      Also, when you're buying the stuff, always remember to ask the vendors how to best prepare it; they often have some really great ideas.

      1. Zuni Cafe Cookbook
        Anything by Richard Olney
        Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz
        Any of the more rustic cookbooks by Ducasse or Bocuse.

        There's some great resources on line as well, such as Chef2Chef. Name your ingredients and there'll be at least a dozen chefs and cooks giving you ideas and recipies.

        1. The Joy of Cooking is one of my favorites- outdated by many people's standards, but they have references to so many different ingredients and types of food that it's a great springboard for my imagination. That's what I usually use cookbooks for, anyway- more inspiration than following recipes word for word (unless I'm baking something).

          1 Reply
          1. re: EWSflash

            I agree, and moreover, I don't think the new edition is outdated.Old fashioned,perhaps,but that isn't the same IMO. I just looked up cardoons, purslane and black salsify in my new edition of Joy of Cooking and found both explanations AND recipes for all three. In many instances the explanations can be as helpful as the recipe, as they give you a sense of the type of ways you might cook or use the ingredient if you feel like improvising.

          2. I use Foodnetwork website because I can type in one ingredient at a time and keep narrowing until I find something that strikes my fancy. I've come accross some very surprising recipes when I had some random ingredient and no idea what to do.