Cooking the books: Ripe
June 8, 2012
Another in an occasional series where I explore, and cook from, my awesome, food-writing friends’ books.
“Embrace the vegetable; behold the fruit,” writes Cheryl Sternman Rule. “Not because they’re good for you, though they are. Not because their footprint is lighter on the earth, though it is. Not because a pound of snap peas costs less than a pound of tenderloin, though it does. Gorge on green beans and favas, pomegranates and peaches, Swiss chard and honeydew because they’re beautiful, flavorful, versatile, and undeniably delicious.”
And that, in a nutshell, is “Ripe.”
In fact, although “Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables,” Cheryl’s cookbook with photographer Paulette Phlipot, is full of produce-centric recipes, it isn’t about health or nutrition or carbon-footprint finger-wagging. It’s simply, and brilliantly, about reveling in the joys of fruits and vegetables.
(I toss “brilliant” around a lot when referring to Cheryl. Read a few posts of her blog and you’ll understand why. The other word that usually comes to mind is “jealous”—as in how jealous I am of her wit, charm, smarts, sass, and serenity. Read this post about dinner at The French Laundry tell me you blame me.)
In homage to the beautiful beet, the gorgeous grapefruit, the book is organized by color. So you get a red chapter, which includes cherries, cranberries, radicchio, and radishes. There’s orange, which includes apricots, butternut squash, carrots, and clemtines. And there are yellow, green, blue/purple, and white chapters as well.
Each featured fruit or vegetable gets a lush, sexy photo and choice, charming introduction. Each also gets both simple use ideas and a full-fledged recipe, with a photo. The overall effect is, yes, you want to run to your nearest farmers market and buy everything in sight.
But more subtly, you’ll find yourself thinking a little bit differently about the beautiful and satisfying simplicity of berries, avocados, squash blossoms, and the rest of the stars of “Ripe.”
And you’ll forever more be just a little bit hungry for them.
Pictured in this post, Green Pea Tabbouleh from “Ripe” (click for the recipe).