Like color? Then Ripe is for you. Most produce-centric cookbooks list their subjects by season, Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables mixes things up a bit and arranges them by color. The result is a whole new way to look at fruits and vegetables at their best.
Not Your Standard Recipe Book
At first glance it may not be clear what Ripe is exactly. Is it a coffee table book about produce, with fabulously gorgeous shots of fruits and vegetables at unusual angles and in creative positions? Or is it a handy reference chock-full of quick and clever ways to use fresh fruits and vegetables of all sorts? Or is it a good read, with fun and funny essays inspired by berries and citrus and root vegetables and greens? It is, of course, all three. The author (Cheryl Sternman Rule) and photographer (Paulette Phlipot) say that Ripe was a truly 50/50 collaborative effort, and it shows in the seamless connections found between words and pictures in this game-changing art-recipe-prose creation.
Yet You Can Use It to Cook
While Ripe may not be a traditional cookbook, it offers up plenty of recipes and even more quick ideas on using the produce featured writ-large on its pages. A clementine, for example, is shown emerging from a spiral twist of its own peel, alongside tips for adding clementine sections to couscous with caper, pine nuts, chickpeas, and shallots or making a salad of them with baby spinach and beans or upping the ingredient factor by using endives and olives. In case these combinations don't inspire, a recipe for a Clementine Creamsicle Milk Shake follows.
A bunch of watercress, by contrast, is pictured as though it were a glorious spring bouquet, set in a vase and ready for its close-up. Serving suggestions include tea sandwiches with mint on walnut bread, a salad with beets and blood oranges and blue cheese, and the brilliant move of tossing it in with mashed potatoes. The next page features a recipe for mouth-watering and irresistible Watercress Butter (I've given it a try, it's a keeper), with pictures of it spread on water crackers like tiny beautiful green pizzas that were this recipe the only thing in the book might still make it well worth buying.
In short, the serving suggestions and recipes are a good mix of the expected but delicious and worth remembering and delightfully new ideas that aren't so weird you don't want to give them a try.
As exciting as I find many of the flavor combinations in Ripe, I can also well imagine someone owning this book and never taking it to the kitchen. They may, instead, choose to drool over the pictures and laugh at the summaries of each fruit and vegetable. On limes: "And who says you can't add it to iced tea? Maybe a lemon, but that's no surprise. No one wants to be out of a job." I don't know about you, but I can read writing like that all the live-long day.
Is your mouth watering for some fresh fruits and vegetables just from reading about Ripe? Check out this Guide to Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables to find out what may be at markets near you now.