Anything Vegetable To Learn

Joined Sep 29, 2015
Hey guys!

I'm going to be working in a gastronomic vegetarian restaurant in 4 months. Thus, I want to learn all I can about vegetables now in preparation for my time there.

Hence, I was wondering if anyone knew of any good books or resources where I could find extensive details about vegetables, flavor combinations and recipes?

Thank you in advance!


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
No suggestions for specific books, but my suggestion is to look at Indian cuisine. As a tried and true carnivore, I am not really big on vegetarian meals, but I could eat vegetarian for days on end before I started craving meat, when eating Indian prepared vegetarian dishes. This is a country that really knows how to cook vegetarian foods.
Joined Aug 7, 2013
Start to learn the different cook times for the different methods of cooking vegetables. Overcooking veg is a real problem.
Joined May 3, 2015
Hey guys!

I'm going to be working in a gastronomic vegetarian restaurant in 4 months. Thus, I want to learn all I can about vegetables now in preparation for my time there.

Hence, I was wondering if anyone knew of any good books or resources where I could find extensive details about vegetables, flavor combinations, and recipes?

Thank you in advance!
I work with vegetables too: Here are my picks for great resources finding extensive details about vegetables depending on the seasonality, availability, how much it comes in (if you work in the United States), and also ask questions from your local farmers where they supply fruits and vegetables from. Here is the list:
1. Kitchen Pro Series: Guide to Produce Identification, Fabrication & Utilization by Brad Matthews - found this reference late while I am working as a garde manger for a catering company I work at. This gives you a comprehensive list, details, descriptions of every fruits and vegetable in the US market. This is still useful from anywhere in the world. You may find an unusual breed of fruit and vegetable. So explore your farmer's market and other local farms. Even ask the cooks and chefs that you work at.
2. The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini - you will learn some essentials about and how each vegetable is used on each application, flavor profiles and what goes well with other ingredients.
3. The Flavor Bible by Karen Page - this is an indispensable guide if you are trying to develop your own recipes, and tasting as you go. It really depends on how you want your dish to be served. I use almost every day at home and work.
4. How to Taste by Becky Selenguet - Refining how you taste your recipes.
5. How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian by Mark Bittman - these books are great, if you're an aspiring cook, chef and want to cook with vegetables, fruits, etcetera.
6. Ratios by Micheal Ruhlman - Chefs have the food knowledge, know the basics of ratios and make sauces, dressings, vinaigrettes and other paste to make the dishes they are trying to make it possible. This book is all about ratios of doughs, batters, sauces (hot, cold, emulsions, etcetera), stocks, etcetera. If you acquire this, you can make your own in no time. Over time, you have the curiosity to refine your recipes and perfect it. Just record the changes, and how it tastes like. So you would have any revisions perfecting your recipe over time. If customers like it, you will follow this recipe every time you make it. I do this when making a new one, and perfecting to refine the recipe according to my own tastes, and have feedback from other cooks and chefs that I work. It may be your signature dish. In no time, you are going to memorize this and make it. So making it, again and again, will be second nature.
7. Here are some books that I found that are targeted towards vegetables coming from a family. You will learn why, how, what they are:
a. Brassicas: Cooking the World's Healthiest Vegetables by Laura B. Russell
b.The New Vegetables, Herbs & Fruits: An Illustrated Encyclopedia by Matthew Biggs
6. Here is the Idea List that I compiled while I started as a garde manger (as a pantry cook for the salad bar, and doing other cooking responsibilities helping the team out in our operations):
Being a Better Home Cook or Chef
Being a Better Garde Manger
So always be a sponge, and learn as much as you can. Not only being a chef but keeping yourself and others in mind, in terms of food safety, health and being a better person. You always want to serve high-quality food everytime to your customers. Also, don't be ashamed asking a lot of questions and having mentors around you.
Talk with other cooks, chefs and other food professionals for more advice, insight, and ask them what dishes are their favorites and ask them why?
Don't overcook your vegetables.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox

6 Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables by Joshua McFadden

The Art of Cooking with Vegetables by Alain Passard


Manresa by David Kinch...not a straight "vegetarian" cookbook, he does use meat and a lot of seafood. But his food is also very vegetable centric (he partners with/co-owns a large farm that exclusively grows all sorts of vegetables for his restaurants) and his aesthetic as a chef is inspiring. He has a lot of great vegetable dishes and techniques in the book that you might find inspirational.
Joined May 3, 2015
I totally agree with the above books referred by Someday. Great choices too. Manresa by David Kinch, 6 Seasons.
Joined May 3, 2015
Actually, I cook and prepare a lot of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and a fusion of other cuisines too. But I cook on what's popular on the people we are serving. So I do some salads and vegetarian dishes coming from different cuisines like the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Tunisian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Eastern European and still exploring other combinations.
Joined Feb 13, 2018
Great suggestions here (as in, I would like to check them out too!).

I know this isn't what you asked, but maybe also take a look at the Serious Eats "vegan experience" which talks extensively about different recipes and techniques for non-animal-product copycats and ingredients.
Joined Oct 1, 2006
I'm going to be working in a gastronomic vegetarian restaurant in 4 months. Thus, I want to learn all I can about vegetables now in preparation for my time there.

I have the impression that you know the exact restaurant you will work in, so study their menu for starters. What vegetables and grains are they currently working with and serving? What will be in season at the time you start working there? How varied are their flavors? If there are vegetables and grains you aren't familiar working with, get familiar. Seeing and feeling the tastes and textures in your mind goes a long way towards creativity. Everything in that future kitchen can probably be served steamed, boiled, broiled, raw, pickled, grilled, etc. and it all starts with product knowledge. Some things are familiar and there are probably a few new ones for you.

As far as all the cookbook suggestions, I like cookbooks more for "ideas" than for actually following a recipe because I believe much more in techniques that I know will yield the product I want to serve. Here's an experiment for you, make a dressing with the primary flavors of Lemon juice, cumin, and cinnamon w/ a pinch of salt. If you get stuck, you could always look up middle eastern dressings, but I honestly think you can stand in front of a mixing bowl and make that work based on what you know of the properties and flavors of those ingredients. Then think "What would this flavor go with"?

Even if you don't feel ready for experimentation, at least think about what else a recipe might taste good with. Like a recipe for asparagus "something" might actually be real good with grilled Brussel sprouts or leeks or mushrooms or...

Bottom line- know your ingredients. (Don't forget the grains!)

Sounds like you are in for a great learning opportunity!

Good Luck!
Joined May 3, 2015
For inspiration and ideas, I either go for a specific country's flavors and make a recipe. For example, this week for my grain salad: I am doing a Japanese Brown Rice Salsa with Soy sauce lemon dressing. Brown rice, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers and jalapenos with a soy sauce and lemon, ginger dressing. Then add some deep-fried or baked tofu in the brown rice salad. Sometimes, I go at Half Price Books or any bookstores that sell great cookbooks looking for more great ideas and other flavor combinations. If I see a crazy and weird flavor combination- I would try it at home. If I don't like it - I would either change an ingredient or so or maybe develop a better recipe.
I totally agree with SGMChef's reply- because I make the dressings or vinaigrettes for any salads, side dish or roasted vegetables. I develop more flavor on what's in front of me. When the salad is available nearby my station. I taste a small bit of it to see if it tastes really good. Or it needs some tweaking.
If you are not familiar with the ingredient - I would smell and taste it. Ask for a sample - if you are in a grocery store or specialty store for courtesy purposes.
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