Tomato panzanella with corn, cucumbers, and herb salad

Tomato PanzanellaPhotography by EE Berger

Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables is not your typical cookbook—it is a how-to-cookbook of a variety of vegetables. Author Abra Berens—chef, farmer, Midwesterner—shares a collection of techniques that result in new flavours, textures, and ways to enjoy all the vegetables you want to eat. From confit to caramelized and everything in between—braised, blistered, roasted and raw—the cooking methods covered here make this cookbook a go-to reference.

Spanning 29 types of vegetables—from asparagus to zucchini—each chapter opens with an homage to the ingredients and variations on how to prepare them. Over 140 photographs show off not only the finished dishes, but also the vegetables and farms behind them.

Take any vegetable recipe in this book and add a roasted chicken thigh, seared piece of fish, or hard-boiled egg to turn the dish into a meal not just vegetarians will enjoy. Some bound-to-be favourite recipes include:

• Shaved Cabbage with Chili Oil, Cilantro, and Charred Melon
• Blistered Cucumbers with Cumin Yogurt and Parsley
• Charred Head Lettuce with Hard-Boiled Egg, Anchovy Vinaigrette, and Garlic Bread Crumbs
• Massaged Kale with Creamed Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Wild Rice
• Poached Radishes with White Wine, Chicken Stock and Butter
• Tomato panzanella wtih corn, cucumbers, and herb salad

Ruffage will help you become empowered to shop for, store, and cook vegetables every day and in a variety of ways. You’ll learn about the life and life-giving properties of plants the way a farmer sees it, build experience and confidence to try your own original variations, and never look at vegetables the same way again.


Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables, is available at and




Tomato Panzanella with Corn, Cucumbers, and Herb Salad

This salad can be made with any other vegetables you have on hand. The key is to get a nice balance of crispy bread, soft tomato, and bright punchy herbs. This is another recipe where a good mixture of herbs will enliven the salad, but if you have only basil or parsley, it will still be great. To maintain the crunch, I toss the croutons with the tomatoes only a few minutes before serving. If they sit together for long it will slowly soften the bread, which is still delicious, making it a great (if slightly soggy) salad for summer picnics or other buffet settings.


4 ears corn (2 cups | 280 g), fresh or frozen kernels

¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ loaf crusty bread

2 Tbsp(30 g) butter (optional but delightful)

1 qt cherry tomatoes (about 2lb| 910 g), halved, or 3 to 4 large slicing tomatoes, cut into large dice

1 cucumber (8oz| 230 g), cut into half-moons (removing the seeds if large)

2 cups (70 g) herbs (basil, parsley, mint, chives, lemon balm, borage, mint, chervil, tarragon, lemon thyme, rosemary), stemmed, leaves left whole

Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss the corn with a glug of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and grind of pepper. Spread the dressed corn out on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through and caramelly, 12 to 15 minutes.

Cut or tear the bread into pieces and toss with a large glug of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake the bread pieces until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Toss the hot croutons with the butter so it melts and coats them.

Toss the croutons with the roasted corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs and a bit of salt and pepper. Taste the seasoning and adjust the salt (or add a splash of vinegar).

Recipe reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books.

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