Artichokes have eluded me for years because I wasn’t confident with cutting them. Not anymore, thanks to Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini.
Cara demystifies the world of vegetables with her butchery basics. This comprehensive guide to buying, storing, prepping, and cooking vegetables will help you at the grocery store, farmers’ market, and in the kitchen. It may also encourage you to try vegetables you’ve never eaten or cooked before, like cardoons and sunchokes.
What is a Vegetable Butcher?
I had never heard the term “Vegetable Butcher” before, but it makes perfect sense when you think about what they do. Below is Cara’s description.
Cara comes from a long line of Italian meat butchers. Little did she know she would follow in their footsteps until she explored produce-centered cuisine during her travels to France, Italy and Turkey. Next thing she knew she was wielding a butcher knife with veggies, not meat.
I recently met Cara at a Melissa’s Produce Media luncheon.
Here are a few of her delicious recipes we sampled.
Heirloom Tomato Panzanella pg. 301 & Turkish Carrot Yogurt Dip pg. 86
Creamy Corn Chowder with Spiced & Sweet Pepitas & Cilantro pg. 130
& Turkish Potato Salad with Dill & Mint pg. 248
Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake with Browned Buttercream Frosting pg. 230
I can’t tell you how much I have learned from this cookbook and enjoyed what I have tasted so far.
The Vegetable Butcher provides:
- 150 recipes
- 250 step-by-step color photos
- Guide to common butchers’ cuts
- Knife selection and care
- Information on 50 vegetables including how to wash, prep and store each vegetable as well as various cooking methods
- Simple techniques that enabling you to cook with vegetables without much effort
- Essential kitchen equipment and pantry supplies
Artichokes can seem intimidating if you haven’t cooked with them before. Cara breaks it down in her easy to understand, step-by-step photo tutorial.
I steamed the artichokes and then marinated them overnight, which makes this perfect for entertaining.
Ten minutes on the grill and tossed back in their marinade makes these artichokes a wonderful summer treat.
Grilled and Smothered Artichokes
- 3 medium artichokes stems attached, trimmed, peeled, quartered, and choke removed
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large lemons 1 halved and juiced, 1 quartered
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus extra to taste
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves coarsely chopped
- Coarse or flaked sea salt to taste for finishing
Set a collapsible steamer basket in a large pot and add enough water to skim the bottom of the basket. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Place the artichokes in a shallow layer in the basket. Steam, covered, adding more water as needed, until the leaves release easily when pulled and the hearts are tender when pierced with a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, fine sea salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and of the parsley.
Add the steamed artichokes to the lemon marinade and toss to distribute the marinade evenly. Let stand until the marinade has infused the artichokes, at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours. Alternatively, cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
About 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to cook, heat a grill to medium-high heat.
Use tongs to transfer the artichokes, cut side down, to the grill; keep the bowl of marinade next to the grill. Cook the artichokes until golden grill marks appear, 5 minutes, then flip them.
Place the lemon down on the grill. Cook the artichokes and lemons until they are lightly charred and the artichokes are completely tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the lemons to a serving platter. Return the artichokes to the bowl of marinade and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the artichokes on the serving platter, and sprinkle all with the remaining parsley, coarse or flaked sea salt, and additional pepper. Serve immediately.
Quote of the Day:
“Every vegetable has its time.” – Russian Proverb
“Make every vegetable prime time with the help of The Vegetable Butcher.”
…and then, she paused for thought.