Steven Satterfield Wants You To Eat Your Vegetables
In his new cookbook, the Atlanta chef uses international flavors to make cooking vegetables more exciting and delicious.
Vegetables are chef Steven Satterfield’s muse. The James Beard award-winning executive chef of Atlanta’s acclaimed Miller Union has long championed vegetable-forward cooking. He published his first cookbook, Root to Leaf, a 500-page tome on seasonally-driven cooking, in 2015, and is back eight years later with his second book, Vegetable Revelations, which builds on his career-long love affair with veggies.
From top to tip, Satterfield sees potential in every part of the vegetable, in the same way another chef might look at every part of an animal. As co-author Andrea Slonecker writes in the beginning of Vegetable Revelations, "There are parts of vegetables that I never considered worth saving, but now do: things like fennel stalks, broccoli stems, and squash seeds. His recipes have taught me that fennel stalks can be used interchangeably with the bulb, perhaps sliced thinly for a crunchy salad. I now peel the bottoms of broccoli stems and cut them into tender coins for roasting, and puree squash seeds to thicken soup.”
Meat is not absent from Satterfield’s cooking, but is often used to highlight vegetables. This is a reversal of the norm, where vegetables are typically the supporting character for proteins. His new book also has a pointedly international perspective, drawing on flavors, spices, and techniques from his travels, and the global pantry of ingredients at his fingertips in the multicultural city of Atlanta, especially places like the Buford Highway Farmers' Market.
“Root to Leaf was a very controlled, restrained, and beautifully simple presentation of where my head was at the time, really honoring the ingredients and doing very little to them,” says Satterfield. By contrast, recipes in Vegetable Revelations have “layers of flavor that can be a lot more punchy and lively on the palate, and are derived from other cultures, taking inspiration and guidance from them,” he says.
Atlantans already know what a gem the Buford Highway Farmers' Market is. The sprawling store has long been a resource for produce and other ingredients not sold in commercial grocery stores, with aisles divided regionally, representing every part of the world. From fresh galangal and rambutan, to affordable freshly packed bulk spices, the Buford Highway Farmers Market is just as much an asset to chefs like Satterfield as it is to home cooks, and in particular, the many immigrant communities that make up Atlanta.
Beyond just the market, the highway it sits on, Buford Highway, is home to a stretch of restaurants and small-businesses that offer some of the most diverse dining experiences in the Southeast. This coupled with his travels to Italy, Mexico, and England has enriched Satterfield’s cooking style, and he wants it to enrich yours too. This is why the first half of Vegetable Revelations is a glossary of flavorful recipe building blocks, which sets you up with a roster of global spice blends, sauces, and condiments that are then folded into full recipes in the second half of the book.
Take Satterfield’s Mole Crunch: A crunchy topping inspired by the complex flavors of the rich sauce from Mexico and made from raisins, pumpkin seeds, guajillo chile, and cacao nibs. The topping can be used on any vegetables you have on hand, or protein for that matter, but is also specifically used in a recipe for Buttery Roasted Parsnips later on in the book.
In this way, the cookbook is designed to be used both prescriptively as a recipe resource, but also as a jumping off point for your own dish development using the fundamentals it provides. The book is also broken down by botanical family (nightshades, brassicas, and more), as vegetables within each plant family are often interchangeable, which allows readers even more room to experiment.
“Different people have different things that excite their palate. And a lot of times when I’m making a recipe from a cookbook, I might desire a bit more acid, a little more salt, or maybe even a touch less fat,” Satterfield says, “so I want people to use this book as a guide, not a hard rule.”
Vegetable Revelations comes out April 18th. You can preorder a copy, and try out his recipe for Peas And Ramps With Mushrooms And Semolina Gnocchi from the upcoming book.
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