Cookbooks to Get You Ready for the Farmer’s Market

Like a gardener in winter pouring over seed catalogs, I begin to read more and more cookbooks as spring nears. With the opening of our farmer’s market fast approaching (4 more days to go!), I’ve been leafing through recipes and dreaming of abundance. I  brought home a stack of books from the library and started looking for ones that were sensitive to the seasons, represented the produce that I might find in my spring market, and used minimal extra ingredients from the grocery store. Here are a few of the books that I’ve recently looked at:

  • Local Flavors, Deborah Madison
    seasonally sensitive: yes
    organization: by types of veggies
    ingredients: mostly market
    example recipes: chard lasagna with walnuts, cabbage and potato gratin with sage, asparagus and wild mushroom bread pudding
    This is one of the books that I repeatedly check out from the library. Each season, there seems to be something new to try. A lot of the recipes are simple and the techniques can apply flexibly to different vegetables. This book taught me how to make a good gratin.

  • Fresh Food Fast, Peter Bergley
    seasonally sensitive: yes
    organization: by season; menus pair two dishes together
    ingredients: mostly market and pantry but with a few specialty items now and then (ex. tahini, soba noodles, saffron)
    example recipes: pea shoot and sprout salad, barley risotto with golden beets, swiss chard and goat cheese, strawberry buttermilk soup
    I don’t know a thing about this author.  I picked it up purely for the delicious looking broccoli rabe on the front and it turned out to be a winner. Each menu has an appetizing photograph, a market list, equipment, and ‘game plan.’

  • The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Cookbook, Amelia Saltsman
    seasonally sensitive: yes
    organization: by meal, with a seasonal list to cross-reference in the back
    ingredients: mostly market and pantry
    example recipes: pan-roasted baby cauliflower, green garlic and new potato soup, salmon with creamy watercress sauce
    A lot of these recipes seem flexible and simple. I thought that the side dishes seemed innovative and appealing. There are definitely some ingredients that we wouldn’t be able to find in our WA markets.

  • Chefs on the Farm, Recipes and Inspiration from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts, Shannon Borg and Lora Lea Misterly
    seasonally sensitive: yes
    organization: by season
    ingredients: almost exclusively  market (farm) and pantry
    example recipes: nettle gnocchi with porcini, spring onions, and egg; lavender-scented turnips, sunchokes, and bacon; walnut-Italian plum cake
    This is such a beautiful and informative book. I was lucky enough to receive it as a gift, and it’s definitely one to read over and over. Coupled with the elegant recipes are vignettes from the farm, detailed ‘how-to’s,” and gorgeous photographs. (The photos will really make you want to visit.)

  • Two of my  favorite cookbooks,  highlighting local food, which are already on my kitchen shelf:
    Ches Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters
    Wildwood, Cooking from the Source in the Pacific Northwest, Cory Shreiber
    What are your favorite books?
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