The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant

​I picked up this book shortly after it came out in 1987. The front sleeve boasts that the collection of recipes within "truly represents a revolution in cooking." Big words, but 23 years later they ring true: Cooking with fresh, quality produce has indeed permeated American cooking - and Greens is nowadays considered a classic among vegetarian cookbooks.

Greens was a very influential restaurant in San Francisco back then. The founding chef was Deborah Madison, who co-authored the cookbook with Edward Espe Brown - also well-known in the Veg-Food world for his series of cookbooks from Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.

There are more than 260 recipes, many of which are somewhat intricate and time-consuming. The lineup covers soups, salads, sandwiches, stews, pizzas, pastas, gratins, casseroles, breads, tarts, crepes, frittatas, roulades, and companion dishes, each utilizing fresh vegetables and herbs (and other quality ingredients). Recipes are healthy, but not necessarily diet food - there is no aversion here to butter, cheese, cream, or eggs. Which only means the blueberry cream-cheese tart or Brazilian chocolate cake will taste as good as the ones in your meat-heavy cookbooks.

The book also encompasses seasonal menus, a glossary of ingredients, a list of useful kitchen tools, and "the first guide to selecting wines with vegetable dishes." Example: "The herbaceous quality of Sauvignon Blanc is particularly effective with cilantro and all the Mexican dishes that are prepared with cilantro." There are no photos, but lots of info.

Tomorrow we'll share a lengthy, but not necessarily difficult recipe for the autumnal holidays: Basque Pumpkin and White Bean Soup. So check back - same time, same channel.

The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant
By Deborah Madison, with Edward Espe Brown
Hardcover: 396 pages
Publisher: My old copy is Bantam Books, Inc.; copies after 2001 are from Broadway Books
Amazon ranking: #92,527 (that's after 23 years on the charts)
I paid $22.95 for the book; nowadays it goes for $35 (Amazon has new copies for $23.10).

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein