cookbook review: The New Greenmarket Cookbook.

If you've ever walked through a farmers market and thought, "I'd absolutely buy that... and that... and that... and that... but I have no idea what I'd do with it", the New Greenmarket Cookbook is about to become your new best friend.

Released earlier this year, the cookbook is not only a how-to manual for the huge array of fresh food available at the markets, but a why-to guide to shopping (with an impressive intro section that details the intricacy of food distribution, "human-scale" agriculture, food justice and the importance of seasonal eating) and an inspirational look at all of the possibilities that lay in the barrels, baskets and bins at the scores of Greenmarkets around New York City. 

Greenmarket Cover

Public farmers markets on the sidewalks of this city haven't been around all that long: the first one opened in 1976, and they've been growing ever since. The markets bring the goods of small farms directly to New Yorkers, sidestepping complicated production and shipping lines, keeping more nutrients in tact (less transit time = fresher food), supporting family farms and keeping buyers in touch with their food roots. There's something tremendously special about knowing where your food came from and eating it in season. For that reason, you won't find any bananas or mangoes at these markets, which makes your job as a home cook all the more fun: your menu can constantly change, adapting to fit what happened to thrive this year.

{Not in New York, you say? No worries: this cookbook is invaluable no matter where you are. It covers such a wide variety of foods - fruits and veggies, fungi, animals, dairy, grains - you'll be able to find recipes that reflect the local flavor of where you are, even if they're the inverse of New York's.} 

Gabrielle Langholtz has compiled over 100 recipes by well-known chefs and foodies, including Michael Pollan, Cedric Vongerichten, Michael Anthony, Mario Batali, Mark Ladner, Jennifer King, Anna Klinger, Christina Tosi, Martha Stewart and Bill Telepan, among many others. In addition to the recipes, the book features stories on farmers who work with the NYC Greenmarkets: how they produce their food, their position on agriculture and why they do what they do. The book aligns recipes with the farms that inspired them, so you might read a section on an organic mushroom farmer, then traipse into a recipe using gorgeous fungi from that farm. The photos are stunning (and drool-worthy), and a sense of beautiful interconnectedness really runs throughout. NYC has such a neat food community: it's fascinating to see it interwoven so cleanly into one reference. 

The recipes, like the individual ingredients they showcase, are pretty simple: they represent some really key elements of clean eating and healthy living (including not being so complicated that you have a tiny heart attack trying to figure out how you're going to time out the many steps). 

What I love most about the book are how the recipes are organized: by season. Within each season, dishes are divided by category (small plates, mains, desserts and cocktails), so it makes it simple to plan, say, a dinner party or a week of seasonal eating. The book includes the whole gamut of the market, including animal products, but here's  a little taste of the plant-based offerings in each season...

WINTER: spiced squash soup, celery root and sunchoke soup, carrot pancakes with maple pears, maple walnut caramel corn balls

SPRING: dill pickled ramps, warm mushroom salad with fava beans, braised morels with nettle pesto and local polenta, strawberry mint julep

SUMMER: warm summer vegetable salad, grilled okra with fennel seeds and fresh oregano, grilled peaches and romanesco squash with grains and tomato, cantaloupe and hyssop pops

FALL: grilled escarole with sauerkraut dressing, spicy sweet potato salad, kohlrabi slaw, green tomato upside down cake

Right? Delicious. 

I had the opportunity this past week to try out a few of these recipes at home. Check them out below!

beet salad bright

This is the ABC Winter Salad, contributed by Joan Gussow, author of This Organic Life. Although clearly not in the Summer chapter, this salad is actually great this time of year. We recently got a slew of gorgeous beets from our CSA, and I visited the Greenmarket to round out the carrots and apples. The dish was flavored impeccably: the ginger + orange was just perfect with the semi-sweet veggies: not too sweet, but definitely a perfect pairing for savory elements on a plate. I incorporated a few teaspoons of extra chopped scallions right into the dressing, blending for about 20 seconds with an immersion blender. 

beet salad brixton

A funny thing has started happening when I carry dishes around the apartment to photograph them: Brixton jumps right up in the frame to assert his interest in trying whatever's on there. Turns out, he loves beets. Great find! This salad was a whole-family hit.

beet salad

While the version pictured in the book looks quite crunchy, our grated veggies turned out a little more like a puree. Perhaps our apples and beets were a little too moist. I'd recommend blotting with a paper towel (or something you feel okay about covering in beet juice) to remove any excess liquid before combining with the dressing. 

ABC Winter Salad

1 large apple, cored
2 medium peeled beets
2 large carrots
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
juice of 1 lime or lemon, or 1/2 an orange
1-2 tbsp olive oil (we used one and it was more than enough)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions for garnish
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, for garnish

1. Using a grater or food processor attachment, shred  carrots, apples and beets. 
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine ginger, citrus juice, oil, s + p. 
3. Add veggies and toss to combine. 
4. Serve topped with scallions and walnuts.

Reprinted with special permission from Da Capo Press. 

succotash 1

And this gorgeous rainbow of local yumminess is the Summer Succotash, contributed by John Conlin of The Tangled Vine. The last time I made succotash was in 2008 in my college apartment: I didn't know what else I could do with a bag of frozen corn and came across a recipe in one of my roommates' magazines. 

succotash 2

I've since learned that succotash is a traditional Native American food, typically made from corn and lima beans. While the version in the cookbook calls for Grenada or jalapeno peppers, I'm not a huge fan of the spicy stuff in general, so we left those out. Incidentally, the Grenadas are considered 'seasoning peppers' and aren't all that spicy... but my tolerance for spice isn't high. ;) 

succotash close up

I love that a dish like this can be a whole meal. Check out all the color! (That's usually a great sign.) You'll see in the ingredients below that corn, okra, tomatoes, onions and lima beans all make an appearance. It's super hearty and can absolutely stand alone as a lunch or dinner. Warm or cold, this succotash is pretty darn good. 

succotash okra close

Summer Succotash

1 cup fresh shelled lima beans
1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive)
1 1/2 cups okra, destemmed and sliced lengthwise
4 tbsp unsalted vegan butter, divided
1 medium finely diced yellow onion
4 cups corn kernels cut from about 3-4 ears of fresh corn
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 thinly sliced Grenada peppers or 1 jalapeno if you prefer
1 tsp finely chopped fresh marjoram
juice of 1 lime

1. Bring a small saucepan with water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Blanch the lima beans until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse well, then set aside.
2. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add oil, then okra when hot. Fry, cut-side down, for about 2 minutes, flip and cook 1 minute more. Okra should be tender and a little browned. Transfer to a paper towel to blot off any excess oil.
3. Return skillet to medium heat. Add 2 tbsp butter and heat until foamy. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to high and add corn. If you're using a jalapeno instead of a Grenada pepper, add it now. Season with salt and saute until corn is just cooked through, about 5 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, lima beans, okra and remaining butter [we omitted this step and used only 2 tbsp vegan butter in total]. Toss constantly to coat.
5. Add Grenada pepper if using, plus marjoram. Toss to combine. 
6. Transfer to a serving bowl, squeeze lime over the top and serve.

Reprinted with special permission from Da Capo Press. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The New Greenmarket Cookbook to facilitate this review, but all opinions are my own.

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    1. […] shared a post a few days ago sharing some thoughts on The New Greenmarket Cookbook, a really valuable resource for seasonal, local recipes and how to shop at the farmers market, no […]

    2. […] another simple summer recipe today inspired by The New Greenmarket Cookbook. This recipe was already gloriously vegan-friendly and gluten-free, but I wanted to take advantage […]

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