This East Coast transplant, one of the pioneers of ‘Meatless Mondays,’ brings an experienced outsider’s insight to Northwest vegetables.
AS AN EAST COAST native, Kim O’Donnel wasn’t sure she was the right author for a book on Pacific Northwest vegetables.
It turns out, though, that the eyes of an experienced outsider — and nine years of living in the Seattle area — gave her insights that local-born eaters might not see. “PNW Veg” (Sasquatch Books, $29.95), the third cookbook from the writer who helped popularize the concept of “Meatless Mondays,” mixes sweet corn with red lentils for soup, adds baby-size Japanese turnips to a chicory salad and sides salt-and-pepper tofu with a Vietnamese-style herb salad. It offers planked artichokes as well as a nettle frittata, among other unexpected local harvests like creamy yellow mayocoba beans in tomato sofrito.
“I looked at it through the ingredients — what people grow here, what’s showing up at farmers markets, not just in Seattle, but Bellingham and Port Townsend and Portland,” O’Donnel says.
Those Oregon-grown artichokes, for instance, were among the surprises.
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“It was really fun, that discovery, sort of defying stereotypes … It’s not just all nettles and fiddleheads, folks,” she says. “It’s big old thistles that you thought only came from California.”
The state’s legumes were among the first surprises for O’Donnel when she moved here from the other Washington. In the farmers markets near her Virginia home, she writes, she’d see green beans and lima beans, not the hosts of lentils and chickpeas produced in the Palouse region. In more recent years, she’s seen innovations like the Washington-grown ivory wheat that’s been “a game-changer” for whole-grain baking, the quinoa that’s become a viable state crop and beautiful varieties of heirloom beans.