What's a 'vegetable butcher'? Read this cookbook and give your veggies the right cut

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Read this cookbook: “The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini” by Cara Mangini (Workman Publishing, $29.95).

BY WENDELL BROCK

Like her Italian grandfather and great-grandfather before her, Cara Mangini is a butcher. But instead of hacking chicken, beef and lamb, she carves carrots, fennel, and kale, using her tools to turn the produce into dice, half-moons and thin ribbons.

Cara Mangini is a vegetable butcher.

She learned her craft at New York’s Eataly market, where for the convenience of customers she “shredded cabbage, shelled fava beans, shaved celery root, and prepped case after case of baby artichokes.” She is now the chef and owner of Little Eater, a produce-inspired restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, and its companion market.

With fingers apparently still intact, she elucidates the art of vegetable butchery in her new book, offering tips on selection, storage, seasonality, flavor pairings and varieties to try.  She tells you how to cut the mustard, and cook it, too.

Got extra tomatoes on hand? Make Tomato Tarte Tatin. What to do with zucchini? Mangini suggests tossing the prolific summer squash with penne, sweet corn, basil, pine nuts and mozzarella, or as the star ingredient of olive oil cake, glazed with lemon.

Come fall, you may want to try Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds, Walnuts, and Manchego. Or Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Sauteed Chard and Coconut Black Rice.

But first, are you ready to butcher a sweet potato? Mangini will show you how. And you can learn from her in person when she teaches a cooking class on Aug. 25 at The Cook's Warehouse.

EVENT PREVIEW

“A Celebration of Summer Vegetables with the Vegetable Butcher.” Cara Mangini  teaches a cooking class at The Cook’s Warehouse at Ansley Mall, 1544 Piedmont Road, Atlanta. 7 p.m. Aug. 25. $59 (includes cookbook). 800-499-0996, cookswarehouse.com.

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