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How to Make Better Vegetables

Anna Mowry

January 04, 2017

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At his two restaurants in New York City, Gramercy Tavern and Untitled, JBF Outstanding Chef award winner Michael Anthony has elevated vegetable cookery to new levels of sophistication and craft. Give veggies their due in your own kitchen with these tips from his 2016 JBF Book Award–winning cookbook, V is for Vegetables

1. On Cooking Vegetables
When approaching a new vegetable-centric recipe, consider it a celebration of vegetables rather than a call to vegetarianism or veganism. There is an urgency to support a wide variety of locally grown, delicious, and nutritious vegetables. Farmers will respond to our requests. If you eat it, they will grow it.

2. Eating Well, Living Well
In conceiving your next meal, reconsider the role that proteins play; a better balance of what is on our plates leads to a healthier and more luxurious way of eating and living. Use intensely flavorful vegetables as purées to stir into broths, add pickled vegetables to brighten a dish, and shave vegetables raw over the top to create flavor throughout the dish.

3. Name It and Tame It
Learn the varietal names of your favorite vegetables. If we can name them, we can remember them. If we remember them, we can talk about them. By making vegetables an important and pleasurable part of our lives, they rise up on our list of priorities.

4. Vegetables Unzipped
Prepping vegetables from scratch is a necessity for eating fresh foods. Sharp knives and plastic Japanese mandolines open a beautiful, new world of preparing vegetables. There is magic in the monotony of peeling and chopping.

5. A Recipe Is a Sketch, Not a Blueprint
Read cookbooks, think about how you would like the dish to look and taste, use ingredients that are available at hand, and close the book before you start cooking. Allow the steps of cooking to become more personally intuitive and less oppressive.

For vegetable dishes by Michael Anthony, such as those shown above, and more recipes, visit jamesbeard.org/recipes. To buy his cookbook, visit jamesbeard.org/store.