Root-to-Stalk Cooking

Jamie Feldmar

The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable

By Tara Duggan

Ten Speed Press

In an age of nose-to-tail animal cookery, it’s only natural that an enterprising chef should turn her attention to whole-vegetable cookery too. Tara Duggan’s new cookbook, Root-to-Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable, promises to teach home cooks how to make the most of their produce, featuring 65 recipes showcasing parts of vegetables that typically get tossed.

It’s a savvy (not to mention thrifty) idea, and some of Duggan’s recipes are truly inspired: carrot-top salsa verde with roasted root vegetables is a clever, all-inclusive side; beet greens strata is a colorful and hearty main dish. Duggan even tackles some trickier scraps like watermelon rinds, which are transformed into a Thai-inspired salad. But some creations, like the thimble-sized, labor-intensive tomato water and cucumber granita, seem like more trouble than they’re worth.

The book’s six chapters represent different edible parts of a plant (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruit), and Duggan helpfully points readers toward multiple recipes using different parts of the same vegetable.

Duggan, a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle’s food section and the author of The Working Cook, has a knack for making sometimes-complicated recipes seem accessible. But home cooks who aren’t comfortable improvising may wish for more guidance; some of her recipes rely more on intuition than precision.

Cooking root to stalk is a noble goal, and Duggan makes it seem reachable. If home cooks can implement even half of her suggestions into their daily routine, consider it a job well done. 

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