Vibrant Food: Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes, and Colors of Each Season

Vibrant Food: Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes, and Colors of Each Season

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by Kimberley Hasselbrink

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The vivid colors of fresh produce inspire this artistic collection of whole foods recipes from the creator of the acclaimed blog The Year in Food.

Kimberley Hasselbrink, photographer and creator of the acclaimed blog The Year in Food, invites you to look at ingredients differently and let their colors inspire you: the shocking

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The vivid colors of fresh produce inspire this artistic collection of whole foods recipes from the creator of the acclaimed blog The Year in Food.

Kimberley Hasselbrink, photographer and creator of the acclaimed blog The Year in Food, invites you to look at ingredients differently and let their colors inspire you: the shocking fluorescent pink of a chard stem, the deep reds and purples of baby kale leaves, the bright shades of green that emerge in the spring, and even the calm yellows and whites of so many winter vegetables. Thinking about produce in terms of color can reinvigorate your relationship with food, and in this collection of recipes, Hasselbrink employs aesthetics, flavor, and texture to build gorgeous yet unfussy dishes for every season. 

Recipes take you on a journey through spring’s Pasta with Nettle Pesto and Blistered Snap Peas, summer’s Berry–Coconut Milk Ice Pops, fall’s Turkey Burgers with Balsamic Figs, and winter’s Sparkling Pomegranate Punch. Featuring photo pairings that celebrate not only the finished dishes but also the striking ingredients that create them—plus a photograph of each and every recipe—this book reveals an artistic picture of whole foods eating.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In her first book, food blogger Hasselbrink ( finds inspiration in the colors and textures of her ingredients. This work therefore celebrates the loveliest fresh food throughout the year, organized by season. Cooking by color is not a distinct theme for a cookbook; however, since bright colors serve as a proxy for nutrition, flavor, and seasonality, these recipes (such as pasta with nettle pesto and blistered snap peas or chocolate truffles with bee pollen) remain relevant. The recipes are vegetarian and gluten-free friendly, but the author offers some meat, fish, and gluten options. Hasselbrink's book feels much like her blog: casual, accessible, and replete with beautiful photos. However, this also means that it lacks structure and balance, functioning more like a series of posts than a complete work. Pulling together a harmonious meal from the assorted entrées, sides, drinks, and desserts scattered throughout the book would be a challenge. VERDICT This enjoyable title would be a nice addition to the shelves of voracious seasonal cookbook readers, but it does not do enough to distinguish itself for most cooks, other than readers of the author's blog, to seek it out specifically.—Audrey Barbakoff, Kitsap Regional Lib., Bainbridge Island, WA
From the Publisher
"The title says it all—this cookbook exudes vibrance. Its pages are filled with simple, healthful, and flavorful dishes I see myself cooking every day. These recipes, arranged by season, will make you run to your local farmers' market again and again."
—Aran Goyoaga, author of Small Plates & Sweet Treats

"I love the wonderful clarity and focus of this book: simple, vividly photographed dishes that highlight the unique flavors, colors, and textures of every season."
—Alice Waters, author of The Art of Simple Food 

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It was a head of overripe purple cauliflowerthe last from my friend Nicole’s winter garden—that began my obsession with colorful produce. The cauliflower was close to flowering, and probably a little bitter, but I was enamored. I had never seen purple cauliflower before or, at least, it had never captured my attention so completely. I began to consider vegetables differently—regarding them not in terms of what ingredients would make a meal but what colors inspired me. And once I began hunting for color, it popped up everywhere: the shocking fluorescent pink in the rib of a humble chard stem, the flecks of deep reds and purples in baby kale leaves, the pale shades of new green that emerged in the spring, and even the quiet yellows and whites in so many winter vegetables.

Thinking about produce in terms of color reinvigorated my relationship not only with food but also with photography. It brought me to a place of curiosity, an inquisitive examination of the natural world through its structure, its tones, and its hues. Formalizing this preoccupation with a new series on my blog, The Year in Food, was an easy next step. Called “Color Studies,” the purpose of the series was to celebrate color in produce. The project resonated with people. And it captured and held my attention and interest. Hiding out in the Color Studies were the beginnings of this book. 

One of the greatest discoveries in working on this book was that flavor and texture are equally important in creating a dish one can rightfully call vibrant.

I love to improvise in the kitchen, driven by a desire to experiment, to think about ingredients creatively, to brainstorm. Vibrant Food is the result of that brainstorming: its purpose is to start with color, employing flavor and texture to build gorgeous, dynamic dishes. My hope is that it is equal parts inspiration and accessibility. Even if you can’t find nettles, fresh chickpeas, kumquats, quince, or some of the other less common ingredients I’ve grown so fond of, I hope that curiosity will get the better of you. Perhaps you’ll bring a striking vegetable home and mull over it, and then build a colorful dish around that vegetable. That is how I cook. 

Which is to say, this book showcases how I like to eat. Some colorful ingredient will capture my fancy, and I’ll begin to think about it. I’ll think about its texture, what would taste good with it, whether it needs sweet or salt or acid, and I’ll build a recipe from there. We all have our preferences and quirks, and I don’t think that mine have ever been more abundantly clear than in the process of making this book. If I had my way, I would add olive oil, Greek yogurt, feta cheese, chipotle powder, paprika, arugula, kale, cardamom, or eggs to nearly everything that I eat. They are the ingredients that I return to again and again. 

And speaking of food preferences, one thing should be noted: I stopped eating wheat in November 2011. I did so because of long-term, chronic digestive issues that were deeply interfering with my ability to function and enjoy life. I had known for a long time that I should cut wheat out of my diet, but it was no easy task. When I finally did so, my digestion began to function healthily again, and I have kept with a gluten-free diet ever since. Most of the dishes in this book that use pasta noodles or wheat flour have been tested both with and without wheat gluten. I have grown to love how dynamic nut and grain flours are, and how much flavor and texture they add to a dish. The choice is yours to make. If you’re partial to wheat noodles and wheat flour, carry on as you know. If you’re curious about eating gluten-free, this is an opportunity to experiment with brown rice noodles, oat flour, almond flour, and the like.

Seasonality and structure
I love eating produce at the peak of its season. It’s a very intuitive way of getting the best fruits and vegetables, and it’s also an intuitive way to organize this book. But what’s in season and when that season begins and ends is wildly variable depending on climate and location. So take it with a grain of salt. Some produce peaks late in its season, some produce straddles the end of one season and the beginning of another.
I have organized the produce in each section according to when it peaks in the season, from early to late.

Eating intuitively
Sometimes the joy of food can get lost in the nuances of nutrition. Over the past few years, a lot of information has come out on the nutritive value of phytonutrients in colorful vegetables and fruits. I care deeply about what I eat, but not to the point that I will choose one vegetable over another because one has more antioxidants. And so goes this book: if we intuitively let color guide our choices, we can trust that we’re eating well, and taking care of ourselves, and celebrating food for its dynamism, its vibrancy, its flavor, and its colors, as much as we are for its benefits to our health.


Rhubarb Compote
with Cacao Nibs
Serves 4

Rhubarb’s bracing, tart flavors come alive in this dessert. I love the crunch and savory chocolate notes that the cacao nibs provide, along with the cool tang of crème fraîche. It’s an intoxicating mix. 

In a large pot, combine the rhubarb, honey, water, and lemon juice. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pot, and toss the pod in as well. Stir gently to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway. 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Discard the vanilla bean pod. Divide the compote among 4 bowls. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of crème fraîche and a generous sprinkling of cacao nibs.


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Vibrant Food: Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes, and Colors of Each Season 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
megHan-sHena More than 1 year ago
Vibrant Food I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. No other consideration was offered, expected or received. I was attracted to this book from the cover and I'll admit that it was that and it being a cookbook - that was all I needed to pick this up from NetGalley. I love the idea of this book – "Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes and Colors of Each Season" – and the things she says (and teaches) in this book. The photos are amazingly beautiful – the recipe photos AND the vegetables that are used in them. The recipe introductions are informative and made me want to try every recipe – they all sound delicious. In fact, I have a bunch of recipes marked that I will be trying soon. My only issue with this book is that sometimes the cooking instructions are connected to the recipe introduction and placed before the ingredients AND sometimes the recipe introduction is connected to the cooking instructions and placed after the ingredients. This makes it an uncomfortable read and disrupts the flow.