Late last year, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway at Zo's lovely blog, Two Spoons, the prize being a copy of the vibrantly presented Ripe, a collaborative cookbook by food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule and photographer Paulette Phlipot, which promises "a fresh, colorful approach to fruits and vegetables".
|Ripe, a collaborative cookbook by Cheryl Sternman Rule and Paulette Phlipot.|
Ripe is an interesting cookbook, with chapters based around colour groupings of fruits and vegetables: red, orange, yellow, green, purple & blue, white. The pages are flush with vivacious hues and wholesome recipes, all vegetarian, a fact that did not cross my mind until much later, so taken in I was by the tome's dazzling good looks.
Cheryl has a charming, conversational style, and I enjoyed reading her notes on each fruit and vegetable, as well as her tips on how to choose or store them. The recipes are all pretty accessible, with some slightly more involved than others, but none are truly terrifyingly complicated.
This is a book for those who are open to adventure. Each fruit and vegetable comes with only one full recipe, which may be a minus for some, but if you take it as an invitation to work your way through as many different fruits and vegetables as possible, it's a positive, which I think is the intention here. Moreover, Cheryl also garnishes each headnote page with a "Simple Uses" passage, giving an additional three recipe ideas - which are basically just ingredient combinations - for the produce. For those who require explicit instructions, this may be a little daunting, but if you're fairly comfortable in the kitchen, it proffers some lovely inspiration.
|the introductory page for green beans.|
I ended up picking two very simple recipes from the book to try.
The first one was the Green Beans with Smoky Pistachio Dust. It's no secret that I am rather hopelessly in love with smoked paprika. So when I saw the superbly easy recipe for green beans, vegan and gluten-free to boot, I knew it was mine to devour, and devour it I did. It was just as fabulous as I imagined - al dente green beans, just slightly silky with olive oil, encrusted with crumbled-up, smoky paprika-infused pistachio.
I wrote to Cheryl asking for permission to reproduce one of her recipes here, if I may, and she gave me her blessings. Aren't you lucky? I'll just make it a quick one here, with modified quantities and in my own words:
Prepping the green beans:
Boil 300g / 2/3lb green beans in a pot of salted water for a couple minutes or until al dente, drain. Rinse or drench quickly in cold water, then drain again. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
Conjuring the smoky pistachio dust, and assembling it all together:
Combine 1/3 cup toasted pistachios, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Process or grind into a fine-grained mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste, then scatter and toss through the green beans. Enjoy.
By the way, this smoky pistachio dust is not only fabulous but also versatile - see this post in Cheryl's blog for more ideas.
|my very own green beans with smoky pistachio dust!|
The recipe for Smashed Cherries, Amaretti and Ricotta also caught my eye with its straightforward simplicity. I had trouble thwacking them as instructed, but pitted and halved them as I usually do and breezily moved on to the other steps. It turned out well - the amaretti cookies, cacao nibs and sweetened ricotta gave tasty contrast to the fresh and juicy cherries. Also? This is totally the kind of dessert I could happily eat for breakfast without guilt.
|my very own smashed cherries, amaretti and ricotta!|
In conclusion? I think Ripe is a gorgeous, engaging cookbook that would suit someone with an interest in embarking upon a series of fruit and vegetable encounters. And if the recipes I've trialled so far are any indication, those encounters will be very, very delicious indeed.