Surely root vegetables are among the most intimidating and mysterious. They come out of the ground hairy with roots and dirty with mud, looking more like something to adorn a haunted house than to eat. But lovers of potatoes to parsnips to jicama know there's something good inside, and Diane Morgan wants to help you discover the deliciousness in these and other, less familiar, root vegetables in her new book: Roots: The Definitive Compendium. We love Diane around here! I am a big fan of some of her other books (and remember her gorgeous pro-style kitchen?). I saw her at a conference last spring, and she was so excited about this, her new book. I kind of gasped when she told me the topic and showed me the cover. "I have to have that!" I said.
Well, I have it here now, and if you're ready to plunge into root vegetables this fall, this is the book for you.
• Who wrote it: Diane Morgan
• Who published it: Chronicle Books
• Number of recipes: Over 225
• Recipes for right now: All of them! But especially: Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad, Yam and Sweet Potato Sesame Patties, Colombian Chicken Sancocho, Asian Pear and Daikon Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette, Parsnip and Potato Soup with Crisp Diced Bacon, Kale and Burdock Root in Curried Cream...
• Other highlights: This book covers a wide range of root vegetables — 28 in all, from carrots to taro to yuca. There are ideas for familiar root vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets, but the book gives equal attention to less-used (at least in Western cooking) burdock root, malanga, jicama, turmeric, and galangal. That is one of my favorite things about this book, in fact: Diane shows root vegetables more commonly used in Asian, Indian, and Latin American cooking and teaches through the recipes how good they can taste.
It is a fat, dramatically-photographed book, showing root vegetables in all their knobbled, eye-ridden glory. I really love the photos; I feel like the style is perfectly suited to the topic. (I only wish there were more of them! There's a photo to identify each vegetable, and a few of the recipes in each section.
• Who would enjoy this book? Vegetarians and omnivores alike (there are recipes with meat and fish here, such as Grilled Wasabi Salmon), and anyone who loves root vegetables and would like to learn to love them more.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan (Chronicle Books, September 2012)
• Visit Diane's website: Diane Morgan Cooks
(Images Faith Durand)