When I started buying local food, especially produce, I had a tough time finding recipes that worked with my ingredients, be it turnips, lambs quarters, suet, pork shoulder, persimmons, excessive potatoes and zucchini—whatever. Over the years I have found a few go-to cookbooks and websites that make it easier and more exciting to cook with the bounty of the season. (I mean—I can only make so much zucchini bread or roasted vegetables before I’m yearning for something new.) Now hundreds of meals later, cooking with local food doesn’t seem all that novel or intimidating. And having gained experience in the kitchen, I confidently make recipe substitutions to use local ingredients and occasionally create my own recipes.
I hope this list—a compilation of suggestions from Oklahoma local-food cooks—helps with the exasperated cry: “I don’t know what to do with this!”
Cookbooks for Eating Seasonally
A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends by Jack Bishop: Jack Bishop’s commitment to simplicity and his talent for fine-tuning recipes so they work perfectly in real time make his books favorites among vegetarians and occasional vegetarians alike.
Dinner at Home by Martha Stewart: Recipes are organized by season and arranged with accompanying menu suggestions, with a helpful preparation schedule. Sometimes timing is the most challenging aspect of cooking!
Dr. Richter’s Fresh Produce Guide: More than 300 varieties of illustrated produce. Nutrition, selection, preparation, storage, handling, cooking tips. Not a cookbook, but simple cooking suggestions instead.
Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables: Seasonal recipes and stories from a community supported farm
Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, & Prepare Virtually Every Fruit & Vegetable at the Market: Ever get chicory confused with curly endive? Can’t tell a turnip from a rutabaga? Wonder what’s to be done with a pattypan squash? The author offers these answers and more in this little guide to fruits and vegetables.
Fresh from the Farmers’ Market: Year-Round Recipes for the Pick of the Crop: A wealth of recipes for every season.
From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce: From the Madison, Wisconsin, Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition
Greens Glorious Greens: More than 140 Ways to Prepare All Those Great-Tasting, Super-Healthy, Beautiful Leafy Greens: What is one to do with the odd-looking green things with exotic names? Virtues and challenges of a wide variety of greens, along with cooking secrets and recipes.
Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets by Deborah Madison: Farmers’ markets are a source for “truly local and therefore truly seasonal [food], quite likely raised by sound sustainable methods and by someone who might become your friend.”
Recipes from America’s Small Farms: Fresh Ideas for the Season’s Bounty: A cookbook classified by plant parts. A book of recipes from America’s small farms, but also collection of facts, farmers, recipes, and resources that begins with “Basic Techniques” and “Basic Recipes,” and ends with sources of local food.
Simply in Season by Cathleen Hockman-Wert and Mary Beth Lind: Recipes are organized by season, which makes it handy for using interesting ingredients like kohlrabi or butternut squash. Produce ingredients are highlighted on the side.
Smith & Hawken: The Gardener’s Community Cookbook: Featuring more than 350 gardeners from all 50 states, including herb growers, patio container gardeners, heirloom vegetable farmers and the best tomato growers on the block.
The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Impeccable Produce Plus Seasonal Recipes: Organized by season, the book details the availability of products at the market and offers advice on choosing, storing, preparing, and freezing items.
The Taste Of The Season: Inspired Recipes for Fall and Winter: Anyone can cook during the summer months, when produce is abundant and grills are at the ready. More challenging, however, is winter cuisine, with its brussels sprouts, cabbages and seemingly endless parade of root vegetables.
Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables : A Commonsense Guide: 80 fruits and vegetables, their origins, history, and appearance, their flavor, uses, and nutritional highlights. How to shop for them and what to look for, how to store them and how long they’ll keep. 420 recipes to inspire and reward your new culinary quests.
Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference by Elizabeth Schneider: A guide to 350 common and exotic vegetables. A reference work (vegetables are listed by their market, botanical, and common names), recipe book, valuable advice on seasonality and selection, multiple-method cooking instructions, and color photos of all the entries, making market identification a breeze.
Websites for Eating Seasonally
AllRecipes.com: recipe-sharing site that allows you to search by ingredient. Read reviewer comments for more hints or recipe adaptations.
RecipeSource: great for when you’re looking for something new. This site has a great search function and lots of ethnic recipes.
Seasonal Chef: seasonal recipes and food preservation guide.
Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes: In a Vegetarian Kitchen: Cookbook author Nava Atlas offers dozens of recipes, free online recipe newsletter, and buying guides for vegetables, including a seasonal section.
Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project: online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century
Thanks to Leslie Moyer for her substantial contribution to this list!
If you have suggestions for this list, please email me: oklavore (at) gmail (dot) com.