Veggie Tales: Produce Gets Some Respect

New York Magazine has a great series of features that proclaim "Vegetables are the New Meat." No, they're not saying that everyone is going vegetarian, rather that produce is finally getting its due:

This new breed of plant lover isn’t motivated entirely by ethical, environmental, or even health concerns (though those reasons come into play), but by culinary ones. Simply put, the once-meat-obsessed populace is realizing that vegetables actually taste good. Especially when fresh, in season, and carefully prepared—often, it must be said, with an unfettered reliance on butter, cheese, crispy bread crumbs, and the deep-fryer. 

They give a fair share of credit to the rise (or resurgence) of farmers' markets. I know I now cook many of my meals around an interesting vegetable that grabbed my eye at Headhouse—some bacon or sausage might make a guest appearance, but they're really just accoutrement. 

The story also made me think of a recent trip to Iron Chef Garces' new J.G. Domestic. He dedicates a whole portion of his menu to dishes built around seasonal produce. There's kabocha squash with kale, smoked chestnut souffle and jewel-like baby beats with a revelatory molasses vinaigrette. In the course of an exquisite meal, our party's favorite dish was matsutake mushroom, sliced, tempura fried and dressed simply with arugula pesto.