We’re thrilled to announce that, on April 27, 2021, The Chef’s Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables—with Recipes will be released—and, yes. You can pre-order now!
“We’re sharing what we’ve learned through thirty-seven years of farming and life,” Farmer Lee Jones explains, “with a focus on choosing, preparing, and cooking vegetables. This is an approachable book that has plenty of value for home cooks, gardeners, and chefs alike.”
It goes without saying that Farmer Lee is excited that launch day has nearly arrived—and Chef Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute feels the same way. This book contains more than 500 entries, including more than 100 recipes created by Chef Jamie, such as the following: Beet Marshmallows, Cornbread-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms, Onion Caramel, Ramp Top Pasta, and Seared Rack of Brussels Sprouts.
In these recipes, Jamie says, “We explore every single part of a particular plant’s life, whether those are vegetables that you’re already using or unusual ones that you don’t know how to work with yet. Let’s take fennel as an example. If you look through the book, you’ll see different compositions of that ingredient with several recipes that use it differently. It’s a beautiful approach to thinking about and using a single ingredient.”
Each person, he shares, might be inspired by a different approach with an ingredient—and that’s just how it should be. “And some people,” he adds, “may want to explore all of them.”
He notes how the book contains anecdotes about chefs and friends of the farm who inspired The Chef’s Garden and the Culinary Vegetable Institute by asking questions and making recommendations and requests. “This is a valuable part of the book,” he says, “because this type of collaboration is what makes the farm and the CVI what they are.”
He suspects that the recipes taking a playful look and a nostalgic view at certain ingredients may be especially appealing to readers.
“My hope,” Lee adds, “is that this book helps people to go beyond one dimensional thinking about vegetables and how to use them. At one point in history, people might have eaten carrot tops and then thrown away the bottom part. Nowadays, in America, it’s typical to eat the carrot and throw away the top. In A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables—with Recipes, people can see how to appreciate all of the deliciously edible parts of a plant, which in turn will help to reduce food waste.”
Lee credits Jamie for having the ability to look at a plant with a fresh set of eyes, no matter how many times he may have worked with that vegetable—and both of them appreciate Kristin Donnelly who, Lee says, “was wonderfully fanatical about detail with an incredible ability to research. She’s a real joy to work with and she kept us on task.”
This book also contains a pantry section that contains information about things the Culinary Vegetable Institute simply can’t operate without. “Think vegetable stocks and juices,” Jamie says. “Kombucha with herbs that we use for dressings, seed crackers, fermented peppers for hot sauce and more.”
Jamie notes that about 95 percent of the recipes are vegetarian, with the remaining ones featuring ways to incorporate meat and fish without taking the spotlight off of the star of the show: vegetables. “Some recipes,” he says, “are easy and will only take a few minutes to prep. Others, the more ambitious ones, will require planning ahead. I think it’s a nice mixture of the two.”
This book was years in the making and Lee believes that the timing of its release couldn’t have been better. “Out of the ashes of COVID,” he says, “people are more excited about the future of agriculture and culinary options than ever before. People have had time to think about how they buy food, prepare it, and consume it. They’ve had plenty of time to think about their health and choices that are better for health and wellness. People are planting so many gardens now that there are even vegetable seed shortages.”
Finally, plant-forward and plant-based cuisines are becoming increasingly more popular, with vegetables at the forefront. “This type of eating is good for the environment, good for human sustainability,” Lee says. “This book will transform the way you think about the options you have at your fingertips to buy, eat, and cook vegetables.”