Vegetarian recipes from a master of the simple and light, Deborah Madison

Read this cookbook: “In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press, $32.50)

 By Wendell Brock

When Deborah Madison started cooking, she writes in her new book, “vegetarian food was weird—sincere but stodgy.” Today, it is “part of a great mash-up of taste, values, and experiences.”

With “In My Kitchen,” the elegant, silver-haired doyenne reflects on how her style has changed over the years, as a reflection of the larger culture and her personal taste. Even as her pantry explodes with ingredients that weren’t widely available in the past, she’s all in favor of eating simpler, lighter, sleeker.

One can’t help but be arrested by the vivid green, orange, yellow, red and purple vegetables that brighten the photographs in this book, and Madison’s eye for composition. Her Braised Summer Vegetables are an ode to the produce in markets right now: squash, sweet peppers, beans and tomatoes of many colors. Yellow, red and purple beets are dotted with a luxurious green sauce that comes from pounding garlic, marjoram, capers, pine nuts, parsley, olives, breadcrumbs and olive oil in a mortar and pestle.

Yes, there are earthy-looking bean stews, curries and gratins. And dishes that incorporate eggs, cheese, and butter. (Madison is not vegan.) And desserts. (Maybe you’ll want to try the Olive Oil, Almond, and Blood Orange Cake — or the Sweet Potato Pudding With Silky Persimmon Puree.)

But some of the most eye-catching concoctions are the least adorned: Mission Figs Roasted with Olive Oil, Honey, and Thyme. Shredded Radicchio with A Garlicky Dressing. Rhubarb-Raspberry Compote.

Like Jeremy Fox’s “On Vegetables” (Phaidon, $49.95) and Joshua McFadden’s “Six Seasons” (Artisan, $35), both published in time for summer, “In My Kitchen” is a revelation of how fruits and vegetables can shine all on their on, when we humans can’t figure out how to mess them up.

 

Wendell Brock is an Atlanta food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock).

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