Deborah Madison may live in New Mexico now, but she'll always be considered one of ours -- a Bay Area chef and food writer who got her start at Chez Panisse and rose to fame as the founder of Greens, San Francisco's venerable vegetarian restaurant.
With 10 seasonal, produce-centric cookbooks under her belt, Madison has just released her 11th, the encyclopedic "Vegetable Literacy" (Ten Speed Press, $40, 406 pages).
It's a colorful compendium of more than 300 recipes divided by plant "families," from the carrot clan to the morning glories (sweet potato), nightshades (eggplants and tomatoes) and fetchingly named goosefoot family (spinach, chard and beets, whose leaves look like, well, goose tootsies).
The photographs are gorgeous -- a shot of black quinoa salad, for example, with avocado and pistachios is downright frameable -- and the prose is Madison at her witty best.
Spinach, she says, "should leap out at you. ... You don't want to reach for spinach that's sad and limp and lying there in a posture of dejection."
Here's just a taste:
Black Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Avocado and Pistachios
2 heaping cups cooked black quinoa
8 ounces beet greens or chard, cooked, drained and finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 or more tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of sea salt
10 mint leaves, slivered
Heaping tablespoon finely sliced chives
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced crosswise
Crumbled feta, ricotta salata or smoked ricotta
Pistachios, coarsely chopped
1. Toss the cooked quinoa with the greens, using your fingers to distribute the greens.
2. Whisk the lemon zest and juice, oil, cumin and salt into a vinaigrette. Pour it over the quinoa and greens. Add mint and chives; toss. Taste for salt.
3. Spoon the salad onto a platter. Top with avocado, feta and pistachios, then serve.
-- "Vegetable Literacy" by Deborah Madison