The Culinary Institute of America tells you how to cook vegetables and gives you loads of vegetable food recipes to help you do so

The famed CIA (Culinary Institute of America) has come out with a new book perfect for us almost vegetarians who are trying to get more green into our diets. Called Vegetables: Recipes and Techniques from the World's Premier Culinary College, the question is, is this 293 pages of helpful and nutritious information for the home cook who just bought some weird green stuff at the farmers market? Or is it 293 pages of recipes designed for a CIA chef with CIA training and a CIA-style larder filled with butter and pancetta (small tip: If you trip across an unfamiliar ingredient or technique, such as, for example, pancetta, Wikipedia seems to be a pretty helpful resource)?

Good questions. So let's take a look at the book. And, while we're at it, let's grab two vegetarian food recipes.

Sometimes (often!) in movie and book reviews, you gotta read to the end to get what the journalist thinks. You're busy. I'll save you the bother. Vegetables is great. Certainly on the top ten list. Good info; lots of recipes I can use. Yep. It's a good one.

Now, you want more details? Okay ...

Vegetables: Recipes and Techniques From the World's Premier Culinary College, by the staff of the Culinary Institute of America, Lebhar-Friedman Books, $40
First, the information is good. Clear, easy-to-understand, and helpful. For example, there is a storage chart that talks about how long produce can be stored. Heaven knows. I've thrown out my share of lettuce. So good to know.

Second, the recipes are geared toward the home cook. No horribly expensive ingredients, no esoteric and one-use-only appliances, no techniques you need years of culinary education to master. Just lots of how-to illustrations and clear instructions.

So what's the downside? This is from a culinary school, so butter (and it's meat-cousin, pancetta) do pop up. Ah well. This is, after all, a vegetable cookbook, not a low-fat cookbook (although many of the recipes are low-fat). And, yes, there are some recipe with meat (did I mention pancetta?!). Most are vegetarian, but not all. However, in it's defense, Vegetables never claims to be vegetarian.

And now, for two vegetable recipes from Vegetables.
Food recipe: Zucchini Pancakes
Serves 6-8

3 cups coarsely grated zucchini
Salt and pepper as needed
2 cups chopped scallions
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped dill
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
Olive oil for frying
1 cup tzatziki sauce

Place the zucchini in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 30 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini to remove as much liquid as possible. Dry the zucchini by pressing it between several layers of paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, scallions, eggs, flour, dill, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper until evenly blended. Fold in the feta cheese. (The pancake mixture can be prepared to this point by up to 3 hours ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Stir to blend before continuing.) Fold the walnuts into the zucchini mixture.

Preheat oven to 300° to keep pancakes warm as you work. Place a baking sheet in the oven.

Add enough oil to a skillet to come to a depth of about 1/8 inch and heat the oil over medium-high heat until the surface of the oil shimmers. Working in batches, drop heaping tablespoons of the zucchini mixture into the hot oil, leaving enough room for the pancakes to spread as they cook. Fry until the pancakes are golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer each batch of pancakes to the baking sheet in the oven and keep warm. Serve immediately with the tzatziki sauce.

Want another? Okay. Here's one I plan to make, too.
Food recipe: Asparagus with Shiitakes, Bowtie Pasta and Spring Peas
3 lbs. asparagus, peeled and trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper as needed
1 cup snow peas
1 cup sugar snap peas
2 cups frozen green peas
2 cup dried bowtie pasta
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups sliced shiitakes
3 tablespons minced shallots
3 tablespoons chopped marjoram
2 bunches scallions, split lengthwise, thinly sliced
Parmesan, shaved, to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil to blanch the peas and a large pot of salted water to boil to cook the pasta. Preheat the broiler.

Toss the asparagus with the oil and 1 t. of salt. Place in a baking pan under the broiler, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Slice the asparagus on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces and reserve.

Cook each type of pea separately in the boiling water until almost tender, about 2 minutes each. Remove them from the water using a slotted spoon or small strainer and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and reserve. (The vegetables can be prepared in advance and held in covered containers in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.)

Cook the pasta in boiling water until tender to the bite, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the pasta water to adjust the consistency of the dish.

Heat the butter in a sauté pan until it begins to turn brown. Add the shiitakes and shallots and sauté until the shallots and mushrooms are light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the asparagus, green peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, marjoram, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Sauté, stirring or tossing, until the vegetables are thoroughly heated, about 3 minutes. Add the hot pasta and toss the pasta with the cooked vegetables and scallions until evenly blended. Add a little of the pasta water to moisten the dish if necessary. Serve on heated plates and top with shaved Parmesan. Makes six servings.

Oh, hey, you can find more CIA recipes on their site. This one caught my eye (Although, it probably did so because I have never made anything like this at all. Have you?!).