A Book That Celebrates Vegetables

“The Chef’s Garden” is a weighty volume with information on vegetables both common and obscure.

By Florence Fabricant

Lee Jones, an Ohio farmer who famously wears overalls and a red bow tie, runs a family farm that caters to chefs, cultivating the everyday (broccoli) and the less common (cardoons). The farm has an educational adjunct, the Culinary Vegetable Institute, and now, “The Chef’s Garden,” a thick book all about vegetables. Merely leafing its pages results in tidbits of information like this: When spinach is very fresh and you rub the leaves together, “they should squeak.” The massive illustrated volume (640 pages) covers hundreds of vegetables, grouped in categories, with history and advice on growing, buying, storing and using. There are scores of recipes from Jamie Simpson, the institute’s head chef; if you make only one of them it should be the luscious carrot pot roast. The story of the farm mirrors the evolution of vegetable cultivation and consumption over recent decades.

“The Chef’s Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables — With Recipes” by Lee Jones, with Kristin Donnelly (Avery, $60).

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