Seattle culinary journalist and teacher Kim O’Donnel — a transplant from the other coast — meandered through the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University a couple of years ago and experienced that moment. “I came upon the DeNoble stand and could not believe that a farm could grow artichokes and bring them to market,” she says.
That’s how Planked Artichokes with Lavender-Rosemary Crumbs and Miso Butter ended up on the cover of her new “PNW Veg, 100 Vegetable Recipes Inspired by the Local Bounty of the Pacific Northwest.” It’s one in a growing number of vegacious cookbooks that bypass the whole notion of fake meat to glory in our plant-centric abundance.
“Increasing access to fresh, seasonal produce is a major factor in the Pacific Northwest leading the charge” in the fast-developing veg-forward movement, O’Donnel says. She sees legumes as part of that future, nutritionally and environmentally. Her explorations took her to the Palouse region spanning the Washington-Idaho border, where “abundant, varied beans and lentils are produced — a lean, inexpensive source of protein.”
O’Donnel made up a carnivorous “mythical creature” to advise her in recipe development and, while taste-testing, asks, “Would Mr. Sausage like it?” The recipes, including many gluten-free and vegan options, spark with lively ingredient combinations. But especially appealing are O’Donnel’s instructive, encouraging tips and kitchen notes that remove obstacles almost before they can be formulated.
“PNW Veg” is being marketed as a regional book because “not everyone has access to stinging nettles or fiddlehead ferns,” says O’Donnel. But home cooks everywhere can wade in and improvise if a particular ingredient is not available. Think fresh blueberries for the Huckleberry Polenta Cake or Blackberry Tofu Pud.
O’Donnel will be at Powell’s City of Books at 7:30 p.m. June 13.