Fresh vegetables take starring role in new cookbook

Books on the burner

October 24, 1990|By Sujata Banerjee | Sujata Banerjee,Evening Sun Staff

FOOD FROM THE garden is in a class by itself. But too often, good, green things are pushed to the side of the plate to serve as understudies to the main course. In "The Savory Way" (Bantam 1990, $22.95), Deborah Madison turns vegetables into long-overdue stars. The author knows her veggies, having created Greens, a San Francisco vegetarian restaurant that was the toast of the '80s and inspired her first cookbook full of show-stopping, restaurant style vegetarian dishes. Now Madison has left Greens and moved on to a simpler lifestyle of writing and cooking in Arizona. "The Savory Way" is a homier book than "The Greens Cookbook." You don't need to search for zucchini

blossoms or other out-of-the-way ingredients. What's fresh at the farmers' market or supermarket will do.

Madison writes of her new style of dining, "Instead of an elaborate meal, I'll make a single dish, supplement it with a cheese and a good bread, plus a condiment or two from my storehouse and add a dessert...people are welcoming simplicity, recognizing that they really aren't going to make a four-course meal on a regular basis, even for friends, and it's the character of the food that really counts."

Sad, canned vegetables served up with salt and a butter pat wilnot do. Character means a Corn and Summer Squash Chowder seasoned with mint, cilantro and cinnamon, made with a base of milk rather than cream. Parsley, usually just written off as garnish, adds bite to an Artichoke and Parsley Frittata. Creamy mixtures of rice, cheese and vegetables such as Rice with Black Pepper Sauce and Yellow Squash and Rice Tian make satisfying and stylish dinners.

Chapter titles include "Eighteen Quick Pasta Dishes," "Soups and Stews," "Stovetop Vegetables," "Salads to Start or Make a Meal" and "Sweetmeats." I particularly liked "Quick Bites," a collection of sandwiches and spreads -- super-fast recipes to be enjoyed any time of day.

Rice with Black

Pepper Sauce

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes two servings.

1 cup Arborio or short-grain white rice


1/3 cup chopped parsley

1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves or several pinches of dried

2 sage leaves, chopped, or a pinch of dried

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 to 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated mixed fontina and mozzarella cheese or provolone alone

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the rice and salt to taste. Boil until the rice is done, 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the type of rice used. Pound the parsley, thyme, sage, garlic and pepper in a mortar to release their oils and aromas or chop them together on a board. When the rice is done, pour it into a colander, shake off the excess water, and toss it in a bowl with the cheese.

Heat the butter and oil in a small skillet, stir in the herbs and garlic, and as soon as the butter foams, pour it over the rice.

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