This edition of The Greens Cook Book is out of print. There is a newer edition, but I have not seen it so cannot compare the two. Years ago, maybe around 1999 or 2000, I had the most amazing soup at a Portland restaurant that specialized in breakfast and lunch. I mentioned how much I loved it to the waiter who said it came right out The Greens Cook Book. Money was tight so I went to Barnes & Noble, picked up the cookbook and copied out the recipe, intending to buy it later, but later never came. Recently, one of my reviews at Powells.com was used in their email newsletter and they gave me a $40 credit as a thank you. I dithered about what to get, but finally decided I was finally going to get this cookbook for once and for all. And now, after all this time, the used copy was only five dollars. Nonetheless, at that ridiculously low price, it still more than 260 recipes that are still tested in the toughest trial there is, a restaurant kitchen.

The recipes are organized by the kinds of dishes you might want to make with chapters on salads, soups, pasta, casseroles, tarts, sandwiches, pizza, savory pastries, side dishes, sauces, and desserts. At the end of the book, there’s a section on pairing wines with vegetarian dishes, recommended kitchen tools, seasonal menus, and a glossary of foods used in the recipes. All in all, it’s a deep dive into vegetarian cooking that highlights simple flavors and your own creativity. More than one recipe gives you a list of possible ingredients so you can more or less make your own using their broad parameters.

There’s nothing flashy about The Greens Cook Book. There are no beautiful photos that will make you drool. The only illustrations are simple outline sketches of herbs and greens. The short introductions to recipes are just about the recipe, without any personal stories or history. It’s a serious cookbook focused on the recipes, not on the personality of the chef. It’s full of recipes that are delicious and you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy them.

This is one of those cookbooks that become a staple, a foundational book like “The Joy of Cooking” or “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.” In addition to its rich collection of vegetarian recipes, it includes the basic on making soup stocks, sauces, and other building-block recipes that many cookbooks assume you know.

This is vegetarian cooking the way it should be. Cooking new and delicious dishes that are about abundance and flavor. Many vegetarian cookbooks focus on deprivation, trying to replicate the meats you have left behind. There is no deprivation in The Greens Cook Book because this is vegetarian cooking as a thing itself, not a replacement. There’s no feeling of being left out or of missing flavors. It’s all about great vegetables and ways to cook them that bring out their own rich and sumptuous flavor.

You can find The Greens Cook Book wherever they sell used books, including Powells and Amazon. There is a newer edition, but I don’t know if anything is different.

 

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