Lucky Peach puts power in veggies in new cookbook

powervegetables

Read this cookbook: “Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables!” by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach (Clarkson Potter, $35) 

By Wendell Brock

What is a power vegetable?

According to Lucky Peach magazine editor Peter Meehan, it’s one packed with flavor, made with minimal meat, easy enough to prepare on a weeknight and still give a show-stopping performance as the centerpiece of a meal.

Pert, playful and gleefully dismissive of easy-peasy pasta dishes and trendy grain bowls, “Power Vegetables!” tells you how to coax ALL-CAPS, bold-face, action-packed deliciousness from ordinary eggplant, cauliflower, parsley and kale.

Play close attention to the pantry department. It features all kinds of bottled, canned, dried and fermented ingredients that can transform everyday veggies into tsunami waves of zest and zip.

We’re talking soy sauce and vinegar, bread crumbs and capers, miso and kombu, Chinese pickles and dried shiitakes, tiny fishy things like dried shrimp and oil-packed anchovies, which are umami-bombs waiting to happen.

Unlike so many trite culinary glossaries, this one is not shy about breaking out a recipe to make a point: What to do with leftover miso? (Make butterscotch.) Curry leaves? (Indian curd rice.)

As a celery lover, I’m thrilled about Braised Cold Celery Hearts Victor (a retro cocktail snack that the authors suggest pairing with icy gin martinis); Kung Pao Celeries; and Celery Salad (with golden raisins, pistachios, and blue cheese).

Want to know how to char asparagus like a steak, bake Quiche Lorraine sans bacon, discover a transformative technique for smashing chickpeas into falafel, or whip up a meatless Tex-Mex shepherd’s pie?

It’s all here: Tastebud-tantalizing recipes! Remarkably cliché-free prose! Glaringly bright photos! (Gotta love the hasselback potato snoozing on a daybed, the rosy-cheeked toddler snarfing a parsnip cupcake, the plastic dinosaur crunching on romaine and the purple cabbage sliced to reveal its wavy Keith Haring grooves.)

This is how Lucky Peach prepares veggies, y’all. Sometimes all you need is fat, acid and salt to give an electrical surge to flat-lining shrooms, broccoli and collards.

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