Here's an idea: What if our cookbooks were arranged by color? What if we flipped through a rainbow of colored pages until we settled on the one shade that most resembled our current produce drawer: Crisp green for celery, scarlet for tomatoes, magenta for radicchio? What if color led the way, to inspire and to remind us of how good these foods can be? Meet Cheryl Sternman Rule's new cookbook, Ripe, a fantastic celebration of fruits and vegetables in all their glorious color.
Cheryl is a friend and fellow blogger (you may know her through her blog 5 Second Rule), and I knew the story of this book before I picked it up. Cheryl met Paulette Phlipot, the book's photographer, and was instantly smitten by Paulette's portfolio of photographs, the way she could make colors pop off the page. This book is a true collaboration between the two of them, showcasing Paulette's photos and Cheryl's sly wit and smart, simple recipes.
And yes, the book is arranged by color, as you can see in the photo above; look at the side of the pages and you see a sheaf of color. Why color? Why not celebrate fruits and vegetables' healthful qualities, or offer new ways to put them to use? Here's what Cheryl has to say about her approach to the material:
But this book is different. It's not a health-focused prescription. It's not an environmental screed. So relax. Soften your shoulders. What you'll find in these pages is sensory, pretty, practical, and fun. Why? Because those other, more serious books have already been written, and written quite well. Consumers and diners already know they should be eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; that they should be sourcing their food more responsibly. They don't need to be told again and again and again.
Cheryl leaves out what she calls the "blah blah blahs" of eating fruits and vegetables, and together with Paulette cuts to the chase: Gorgeous photographs of produce, simply styled, yet nearly three-dimensional in the way the peas and and eggplant and fava beans nearly fall off the page into your lap.
There are over 150 photographs in this book, with about 75 recipes. "Lavishly illustrated" does not even begin to describe it. There's one recipe for each ingredient, each offering a fresh or comforting way to approach a fruit or vegetables. The Red chapter for instance includes Red Bell Peppers (and Red Pepper Chili), Radishes (and Radish Olive Crostini), and Rhubarb (Rhubarb Cherry Mini Crisps) — among others.
This is a book to flip through and to savor, season by season, as colorful fruits and vegetables parade into your kitchen. It is a beautiful guide and delicious book to page through and enjoy!
• Find the book: Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon
(Images: Faith Durand)