For those of us who have endured a particularly long, cruel winter, the return of spring and the promise of fresh, seasonal vegetables from the local farmers’ market is sheer joy. That first bite of locally grown asparagus or sugar snap peas will make you sigh with delight knowing you no longer have to endure the slightly shriveled, dried up version of the same vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles to end up at your local supermarket in the interest of providing consumers with “fresh” vegetables year round.
By the time June rolls around, however, and the novelty of eating simply prepared locally grown vegetables has worn off, you will probably want to reach for a cookbook that will give you some new ideas for preparing all those vegetables taking up residence in your refrigerator. Vegetables usually get short shrift in most cookbooks, so one that is devoted primarily to vegetables (without being vegetarian) is especially welcome. In For Every Season There Is a Salad, Linda Steidel sets out to show us there are many ways to enjoy our vegetables and many takes on what is deemed “a salad.”
Steidel, who lives in California, has traveled and studied cooking extensively. As a cooking instructor and as an author, she emphasizes using ingredients that are “fresh, colorful, and in season” which is why, presumably, she has organized the book into seasons. Yet her philosophy (which is universally embraced by all good cooks) is at odds with the placement of many recipes in the book, making it feel more like a hodge-podge collection than one based on seasons.
For example, asparagus, that quintessential spring vegetable, makes an appearance in autumn, winter, and spring. If you are looking for locally grown produce, you won’t find asparagus in autumn or winter in most of the country. If you do prefer to cook seasonally, going to the index to look up all recipes for asparagus proves no more fruitful. There are a total of nine recipes that use asparagus in the book, yet only three are listed in the index under “asparagus.” Two more can be found under G for “grilled asparagus” leaving four unaccounted for (which are probably there but who has the time to hunt them down).
The organization of the book aside, the range of of Steidel’s recipes shows off her extensive travels and training. Many of us have acquired a multi-cultural palate, and there are recipes here to please everyone: from Italy (Grilled Anitpasto with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette), France (Ratatouille and Goat Cheese Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette), Spain (Mixed Greens with Shaved Manchego Cheese & Sherry Vinaigrette), Asia (Thai Flank Steak Salad), and even good ole America (Grilled Hot Dog Salad—for those whose palates are not yet highly developed).
Overall, if you are willing to wade through the entire book when looking for variations on a particular vegetable no matter the season and are willing to include vegetables out of season in your area, this book offers some intriguing recipes.