An out-of-the-box cookbook |

An out-of-the-box cookbook

The “All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook: Taking the Harvest to the Table” is a companion to Mel Bartholomew’s “All New Square Foot Gardening,” but you don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate the quick, healthy recipes in his cookbook.

But before we dive into the food, just a quick review of the concept of square foot gardening, which Bartholomew describes as an efficient way of growing food “in the smallest space with no superfluous effort.” He uses 48-inch square boxes and 3-foot paths. The design is based on a human’s reach, and the closely spaced squares minimize the opportunity for weeds to grow. (For more information, visit

His new cookbook presents 135 recipes using 17 popular kitchen garden plants and is arranged alphabetically by plant. The 17 fruits and vegetables are: asparagus, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, herbs, salad greens, melons and berries (in the same chapter), peas, onions, garlic and chives, peppers, potatoes, chard, squashes and tomatoes.

Each chapter includes a harvest and yield guide, which tells readers when to pick (including signs the food is ready and when it’s too late), expected yield, which parts to eat and tips on storage and what “companion” plants can help the food grow (for example, tomatoes can deter asparagus beetles). He also includes recipes on how to make the most of over-matured, overgrown vegetables.

The cookbook contains both simple and unique recipes. For example, bean recipes range from stir-fried beef and green beans to refrigerator-pickled (or roasted) green beans. He pairs broccoli with creamy chicken in one recipe, sesame and orange-scented beef in another, and even comes up with a horseradish and broccoli sandwich topper. His Thai roasted vegetable recipe is fairly simple and tastes great, and his classic ratatouille looks amazing. In fact, the full-page photos of the dishes are one of the most tantalizing aspects of the book.

Bartholomew has created a user-friendly cookbook with new and traditional takes on vegetables. And, his Kid’s Corner boxes, found in every chapter, give kids ideas for digging into the action of gardening, or just learning about fresh foods.

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