If, like me, you are old enough to remember when arugula seemed exotic, you know that the sheer variety of fruits and vegetables available at supermarkets and, even more so, farmers’ markets has increased exponentially. But such abundance can leave one stymied: What to do with all those huckleberries? Is green garlic used like regular garlic? What do nettles taste like, anyway? In her debut cookbook, Michelle McKenzie, head of 18 Reasons, a nonprofit community cooking school in San Francisco, answers these and many more produce-related questions. With 35 plant profiles-from Asian pears to sunchokes-and more than 150recipes, this informative collection will have you reconsidering celery leaves and bolted herbs, persimmon, and purslane. What McKenzie calls unusual is subjective, which is why shallots made the cut. As she’s discovered in her cooking classes, there are people out there unfamiliar with this cousin of the onion. But once they try her Crispy Shallots and Shallot Oil, they’ll never forget them.
Don’t Miss: Baby Dandelion Salad with Fresh Figs and Pancetta. The pancetta is optional but adds crisp texture, and its flavor marries the sweet fruit and bitter greens.