As seen through the lens of an artist in search of beauty as well as flavor and inspired by the vivid hues of produce, Vibrant Food captures the radiant colors of the seasons with recipes that transform meals into captivating works of art. Looking at food not only as a means of healthy sustenance but also as colorful ingredients to artfully build a meal around, photographer and food blogger Kimberley Hasselbrink—creator of the acclaimed blog The Year in Food—turns the act of cooking into a feast for the eyes, combining colors, textures, and flavors into gorgeous, dynamic dishes.
From Pasta with Nettle Pesto and Blistered Snap Peas to Grilled Halloumi with Strawberries and Herbs to Broiled Figs with Za’atar and Pecans to Roasted Beets with Chimichurri, this visually-striking celebration of the hues, flavors, and moods of each season delivers a delicious picture of healthy eating while its fuss-free recipes inspire creativity in the kitchen.
Beginning with a single ingredient at the peak of freshness and letting color be her guide, Hasselbrink brings a range of beauty to the plate. Whether it’s the brilliant fluorescence of a Red Beet Risotto, the soft pastel shades of a Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing, the deep reds and purples of a Baby Kale Caesar Salad, the lush golden dustings atop Chocolate Truffles with Bee Pollen, or the jewel-tones of citrus in Sparkling Pomegranate Punch, each recipe pays artful tribute to nature’s magnificent bounty. Every recipe is photographed and many also have gallery-style ingredient portraits that show the beautiful transformation from fresh produce to finished dish.
Featuring more than sixty-five simply elegant recipes richly-illustrated with 180 full-color photographs, Vibrant Food offers an artistic collection of whole food creations that will bring year-round splendor to any table. Here are three to get you going.
Reprinted with permission from “Vibrant Food: Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes, and Colors of Each Season” written and photographed by Kimberly Hasselbrink (Ten Speed Press, © 2014). All rights reserved. Support your local bookstore, or buy the book through our affiliate link at Amazon.com.
Fresh chickpeas—who knew? I discovered these last spring at the farmers’ market. Eaten raw, they’re crunchy and green, similar to a fresh pea. Cooking fresh chickpeas causes them to lose their soft green color and turn into the beige legume we all know. It was my friend Stacy’s idea to pair these with toast—genius. They’re a nod to the spring classic, peas on toast, but the chickpea flavor is a little quieter. Their shelling requires patience; listen to music and share the task with a handful of friends and a bottle of wine.
1 baguette, sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
16 ounces fresh chickpeas in their pods (about 2 cups shelled)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint cut into ribbons (chiffonade), plus more for serving
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush each side lightly with olive oil. Toast the bread for about 20 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, prepare the chickpeas. Shell them and place in a medium bowl. You should have about 2 cups.
In a small bowl, whisk together the 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mint, dill, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the chickpeas and toss to evenly distribute. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
Assemble the toasts by spreading about 2 teaspoons of the ricotta mixture over each toast, followed by a spoonful of chickpeas and a drizzle of their dressing. Garnish with mint, dill, and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Sardines are one of those underappreciated species of fish that deserve more accolades than they receive. In California, they’re abundant and cheap. Plus, they’re healthy and a cinch to prepare. Fresh sardines are nothing like their tinned cousins; their flavor is rich and far more delicate. Dressed with a miso glaze and augmented by gorgeous strands of rainbow carrot and a little fresh fennel crunch, this is a wonderful, light spring meal.
Carrot Fennel Slaw
¼ cup brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
6 rainbow carrots
1 small fennel bulb with fronds, cored
8 large sardines
3 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Toasted sesame oil
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
To prepare the slaw, whisk together the brown rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Thoroughly rinse the outer skin of the carrots. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrots along their length, creating long ribbons. Place in a mixing bowl. Next, slice the fennel crosswise very thinly with a sharp knife or mandoline. Reserve the fennel fronds for garnish. Toss the brown rice vinegar mix with the carrots and fennel. Set aside.
If your sardines have not been gutted by your fishmonger, do this now. Slice each sardine along the length of the belly and remove the organs by gently pulling them out with your fingers. Rinse thoroughly under cool water. Drain on paper towels and blot dry.
Combine the miso, mirin, brown rice vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic with a fork to make a paste. Arrange the fish on a baking sheet. Brush the insides of the sardines with the miso paste. Brush the outsides of the fish with the sesame oil.
Roast the sardines until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Using tongs, remove the slaw from the bowl, draining off any excess liquid, and divide between four plates. Top each with two sardines and finish with a few fennel fronds. Serves 4.
I love the word clafoutis—a charming name for a simple dessert. Without those sweet-tart cherries dominating every bite, it would be nothing more than a straightforward custard. But the cherries elevate it. And the buttermilk lends a welcome tang that gives it a little edge over using regular milk in a clafoutis. I like to use brown rice flour in place of all-purpose flour when I can, which I recommend here to make this dish gluten-free.
½ cup natural cane sugar
16 ounces sweet cherries, pitted
1¼ cups buttermilk
⅓ cup almond flour
2 tablespoons brown rice or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan with unsalted butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
Arrange the cherries in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, remaining sugar, almond flour, brown rice flour, vanilla, ginger, and salt until smooth. Pour evenly over the fruit.
Bake for about 50 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and set in the center. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center—if it comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready.
Allow to cool slightly, then dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve. Serves 6.
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and creator of the blog The Year in Food. She grew up in California’s Santa Cruz mountains, went to art school to study furniture design, and left with a strong desire to focus on food and cooking by way of photography and writing. She has worked with Williams-Sonoma, Etsy, Bon Appetit, Kinfolk, and Edible San Francisco, among others. She currently lives in San Francisco, California, where she obsesses over produce and the ever-present fog and fantasizes about her next adventure in the mountains.