A new must-have cookbook from Deborah Madison


Side dish

Kale and Potato Mash With Romesco Sauce

The potatoes and kale cook in the same pot, which saves a step. Serve with lightly fried fish fillets or on its own, with plenty of the sauce. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish

1 thin but sturdy slice of country bread

1/2 cup almonds and/or peeled hazelnuts toasted

3 garlic cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ground red chili powder

4 roma tomatoes (about 12 ounces total), grilled or pan-roasted

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Sea salt

1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika

2 jarred roasted red bell peppers, seeded

1/4 cup sherry vinegar


2 large russet potatoes (a scant pound), peeled

8 ounces yellow-fleshed potatoes (such Yukon Gold), scrubbed

Sea salt

1 large bunch kale (10 to 12 ounces), stemmed, leaves chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground pepper

For the sauce, warm 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the bread, turning it to coat. Toast just until golden and crisp, then tear into chunks and transfer to a food processor along with the nuts; puree. Add garlic, chili powder, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, a scant teaspoon of the sea salt, the paprika and roasted peppers; puree.

With the machine running, gradually add the vinegar and remaining 1/2 cup oil. Taste for seasoning.

For the mash, cut potatoes into similar-size chunks. Place in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, add a generous pinch of salt, reduce and simmer, uncovered, until firm-tender when pierced with a knife. Add kale and cook about 8 minutes until the potatoes are tender enough to mash and kale has wilted.

Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water. Transfer potatoes and kale to a mixing bowl. Add the reserved cooking water and the oil; mash to a chunky texture. Taste for salt and season with pepper.

Transfer to a warmed serving bowl, with sauce spooned over the top or served alongside. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Source: Adapted from “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed).

Per serving: 374 calories (57 percent from fat), 25g fat (3.1 g saturated, 17 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 8g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 5.9 g fiber, 136 mg sodium.

Main dish

Peas With Baked Ricotta and Bread Crumbs

As a lunch or light supper dish, this is a favorite of cookbook author Deborah Madison. To add a little heft but keep things meatless, cook a cup of small pasta shells, and add to the peas.

Olive oil

1 cup top-quality whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 to 3 tablespoons plain fresh bread crumbs

4 teaspoons unsalted butter

2 large shallots or 1/2 small onion, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)

5 small sage leaves, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

1 cup freshly shucked peas

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a small baking dish with a little oil.

If the ricotta is wet and milky, drain it in a colander, pressing out any excess liquid. Pack the ricotta into the baking dish and drizzle with a little oil. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, until the cheese has begun to set and brown on top.

Cover the surface with the bread crumbs and bake 10 minutes, until crumbs are browned and crisp and the cheese has set. (It take longer, especially if the cheese is not well-drained.)

When the cheese has set, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until foaming. Sauté shallots and sage about 3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the peas, 1/2 cup water and lemon zest. Cook until the peas are bright green and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Season with salt and a little pepper.

Divide the ricotta between individual plates, and spoon on peas. Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top. Serve warm. Makes 2 servings.

Source: Adapted from “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed).

Per serving: 450 calories, 24 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 14 g sugar.


Carrot Almond Cake With Ricotta Cream

This carrot cake is redolent of almonds and lemon, without the usual cup or so of oil that many carrot cake recipes call for. If you use yellow carrots, it’s exceptionally pretty. You’ll have leftover ricotta cream, which goes great on pancakes, pound cake or cut-up fruit. The cake tends to gain moisture as it sits, well wrapped, at room temperature.


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more as needed

1 1/2 cups finely ground blanched or slivered almonds (may substitute almond flour)

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups unbleached cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Scant 2 cups grated carrots, preferably yellow


1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons honey

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375 degrees. Melt 4 tablespoons butter and let it cool.

Combine the ground almonds, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little butter and dust the sides with some of the almond-zest mixture, shaking out any excess.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the eggs and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat on low, then high speed until pale, foamy and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add remaining almond-zest mixture, almond extract and flour mixture, beating until well incorporated. Pour cooled butter over batter and fold it in along with carrots.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake cake until it is springy to the touch in the center, lightly browned and beginning to pull away from the pan sides, about 40 minutes.

Let it cool completely in its pan, then release the springform and slide the cake onto a platter.

To make the ricotta cream, mix ricotta, sour cream, honey and zest by hand or with a mixer on low speed, until smooth.

Just before serving, dust cake with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve the sauce alongside. Makes 10 servings.

Source: Adapted from “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed).

Per serving (using low-fat sour cream and half the ricotta cream): 350 calories, 10 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 22 g sugar.

Main dish

Rice With Spinach, Lemon, Feta and Pistachios

Green and white, sprightly and clean, this is a rustic dish that can practically be a meal. Reserve the spinach crowns to use in another dish, or steam, dress with olive oil and pile them over the rice. If you prefer brown rice, try brown basmati. Forbidden black rice is another delicious alternative. Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often.

1 cup long-grain white rice

Sea salt

2 large bunches (2 pounds) spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large garlic clove, cut into slivers

Grated zest of 2 lemons (2 tablespoons)

1 heaping tablespoon chopped dill or marjoram

2 ounces or more feta cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup raw unsalted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted

Freshly ground pepper and crushed red pepper flakes

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring back to a boil, adjust heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, until liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, discard any tough spinach stems. Plunge leaves into plenty of cold water and wash well — twice if need be. Dry.

Combine the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat; once the garlic begins to turn pale gold and flavor the oil, discard it. Add spinach and a few pinches of salt. Cook until wilted; turn off the heat. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, chop it and transfer it a mixing bowl, along with the lemon zest and dill. Toss to incorporate.

Uncover the rice and use a fork to fluff it. Transfer to the mixing bowl and toss to incorporate with spinach. Adjust salt as needed. Add the feta and pistachios and toss again. Season with pepper and a few pinches of pepper flakes. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed).

Per serving: 350 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 49 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 14 g protein.

Main dish

Cauliflower With Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Plenty of Parsley and Pasta

The cauliflower becomes golden and aromatic. As a variation, omit the cheese, and top the finished dish with 1 pound peeled, deveined Gulf shrimp that you have and sautéed with chopped garlic and parsley.

1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), broken into small florets and the core diced (about 6 cups)

Sea salt

8 ounces dried small pasta shells or other shapes

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for tossing pasta

1 small onion, finely diced

2 pinches saffron threads

1 large garlic clove, minced

Scant 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup finely chopped, lightly packed flat-leaf parsley

Grated aged cheese or crumbled feta (optional)

Bring a big pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set prepped cauliflower in a heatproof colander and place over the pot; cover and steam about 3 minutes. Taste a piece; it should be on the verge of tenderness but not quite fully cooked. Uncover and transfer the colander to the sink to drain.

Let the water return to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt and cook the pasta just until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and saffron about 6 minutes, stirring often, until the onion has softened. The heat will activate the saffron so that it colors and flavors the onion. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes and a few pinches of the parsley. Add the steamed cauliflower. Toss to coat evenly. Add 1/2 cup water and cook over medium heat until cauliflower is tender, just a few minutes.

Season with salt, toss with half of the remaining parsley and keep warm.

Drain pasta and transfer it to a warmed bowl. Toss with a few tablespoons of oil and remaining parsley. Taste for salt, then spoon the cauliflower over the pasta, wiggle some of it into the pasta crevices and sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed).

Per serving: 310 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 9 g protein.

Washington Post Service

Who’s your favorite expert on cooking vegetables? For many of us, it has long been Deborah Madison, author of The Greens Cookbook, Local Flavors, the landmark Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and more.

As a gardener, former farmer’s market manager and chef (with cooking chops honed at Chez Panisse and Greens), Madison knows her produce and what to do with it.

In her new book, Vegetable Literacy (Ten Speed, $40), she aims to bring us closer to her level of knowledge by helping us think about the subject in a new way. It’s a must-have book for anyone interested in plant-based cooking.

The book’s subtitle is Cooking and Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom, With Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes. Her mission is to illuminate the connections among vegetables from the same family, to show how they can be treated in similar ways in the kitchen, used interchangeably and sometimes together. Mustard and horseradish make natural companions for kale and cabbage because they’re all part of the brassica family — or, using an older term, they’re all crucifers.

Virtually every page of Vegetable Literacy contains a nugget of helpful or just plain interesting information. Examples:

• Crucifers are so-called because of their cross-shaped flowers.

• Some European brassicas are referred to as cole crops, which helps explain the terms coleslaw, colcannon, collard and kohlrabi.

• Birds can’t feel the heat from chili peppers.

• One reason to scrub, not peel, carrots is that you’ll rob them of some flavor, not to mention nutrition.

• Gathering places for farmers were called grange halls because farmers originally were known as grangers, or grain growers.

• Groats are the whole berries of grains, and grits are their cut-up versions, and that includes not just corn grits but even steel-cut oats.

Madison paves the path to literacy with delicious recipes, illustrated by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton and their trademark style of luscious-meets-rustic photography.

Plenty of cooks will skip all the botanical and gardening information, as fascinating as it is, and get to work envisioning and making their next meal.

Success awaits. To spoon into Peas With Baked Ricotta and Bread Crumbs is to marvel at a match made in heaven. To bite into Carrot Almond Cake is to wonder: Why didn’t I think of that?

Because you’re not vegetable-literate yet, that’s why. But you’re getting there.

Read more Food stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Spices galore: </span>Chipotle carrot soup topped with cumin roasted chickpeas.


    Spices of life: Seasonings every home cook should have in their pantry

    From adobo to za’atar, 26 spices to lively up your every meal. Plus: Where to find them.

  • Shopper’s Dictionary

    Hot sauce to try: Piri Piri

    What is it? Swahili for pepper pepper, piri piri is a small, bright-red, very hot bird’s eye chile that originated in Portugal before being spread to parts of Africa, South Africa and India. Also spelled pili pili or peri peri, the pepper is most commonly found in a hot sauce that includes garlic, lemon juice, paprika and other spices. It is fantastic slathered on roasted chicken and grilled fish.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Try it at home: </span>The roasted carrots and avocado from Huckleberry restaurant in California can now be made in your kitchen.

    Culinary SOS

    Restaurant recipe: Roasted carrots with avocado

    Dear SOS: Ever since trying the roasted carrots and avocado from Huckleberry Bakery and Café in Santa Monica, California, I can’t stop thinking about them. They taste more like French fries, even though they are just roasted carrots. I’m dying for the recipe. Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category