“The Southern Vegetable Book: A Root-to-Stalk Guide to the South’s Favorite Produce” by Rebecca Lang, Oxmoor House, 256 pages, $27.95, hardcover
After looking through Rebecca Lang’s latest cookbook, I was eager to try some of its recipes. I headed to the Red Stick Farmers Market to see what local spring vegetables are available and came home with my first English cucumbers of the season.
Cucumbers are among the vegetables Lang, a Southern Living contributing editor, includes in the spring section of her new cookbook. In the book’s short introduction, she points out that seasonal eating is better because vegetables are more flavorful “when harvested in their God-given season,” and “their appearance marks on a natural calendar to remind us what should be on our plates.” She also notes that in the South many vegetables, such as beets and carrots, can grow in both the spring and fall.
After offering advice on shopping for the best vegetables, vegetable storage and cutting vegetables, she moves into the recipes. They are divided by season and vegetable, beginning with spring and asparagus and ending with winter and sweet potatoes. She says spring vegetables “shine on their own, with no need for fancy additions” because they are tender and “delicious straight from the source.”
Among the book’s recipes are Pickled Pink Deviled Eggs, Layered Carrot Cake, Corn-and-Crab Chowder, Fried Eggplant, Speckled Butter Beans with Bacon and Basil, Classic Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes, Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms, Winter Squash Lasagna, Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Salad, and Fancy Sweet Potato Pie.
The book is beautifully illustrated with full-color photos of completed dishes. This is a cookbook anyone who loves good food and wants to cook vegetables in the Southern style will want to have.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.