Recipes and contents from Alice Waters' newest cookbook, Chez Panisse Vegetables, (HarperCollins Press). We found these unique recipes to be fairly simple and healthy. What follows are samples of the kinds of recipes you would find in this cookbook. A great addition to any home kitchen library.

Asparagus with Crispy Gingerroot

Snap the ends off some asparagus. If the stalks are fat, peel them. Slice them diagonally 1/4 inch thick, leaving the tips whole. Peel a knob of ginger and slice it 1/8 inch thick, and then into julienne. Over high heat, sauté the ginger for about 1 minute in clarified butter, until it is crisp and golden brown. Add the asparagus and sauté for about 2 minutes more, or until tender. Drain off any excess butter, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Carrot and Cilantro Soup

1 white onion
3 tablespoons butter
bunch carrots (about 2 pounds)
2 or 3 potatoes (about 1/2 pound)
Salt and pepper
1 to 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
bunch cilantro (about 1/4 pound)
1 small red onion
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers
Juice of 1 lime

Peel and slice the onion and put it on to stew in the butter over low heat, covered. Peel the carrots and potatoes and cut them in large chunks. Once the onions are fairly soft, add the carrots and potatoes, salt generously, and continue to stew, covered, for about 10 minutes more. Add chicken stock to cover, and simmer until the vegetables are entirely cooked. Take the pot off the heat.

Reserve a handful of cilantro leaves for salsa and throw the rest of the cilantro into the soup pot. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor (or pass through a food mill), and strain through a medium sieve. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Make a little salsa to your taste with the onion and jalapeno peppers, chopped; the lime juice; and the reserved coriander leaves, coarsely chopped. To serve the soup, bring back to a simmer, ladle into bowls, and garnish with the salsa.

Serves 6.

Eggplant, Tomato and Onion Gratin

3 large, sweet white onions
3 cloves garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 sprigs thyme
bay leaf
Salt and pepper
3 medium Japanese eggplants
3 ripe tomatoes

Peel and chop the onions and garlic very fine. Stew them over a medium flame for about 5 minutes, until soft, in half the butter and olive oil, with the leaves of the thyme, the bay leaf, and salt and pepper.

Slice the eggplants into l/4-inch-thick rounds. Slice the tomatoes slightly thicker.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a shallow gratin dish.

Remove the bay leaf from the onions and spread them over the bottom of the dish. Cover with overlapping rows of alternate tomato and eggplant slices. Each slice should cover two thirds of the preceding one. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, cover, and cook in the oven until the eggplant is soft enough to be cut with a spoon, about 45 minutes.

Uncover for the last 15 minutes or earlier if the tomatoes are giving up too much liquid. Brush or spoon the juices over the top
occasionally to prevent the top layer from drying out. This gratin should be moist but not watery. Serve with grilled or roasted lamb.

Serves 6 to 8.

Asparagus and Spring Onions with Buckwheat Linguine

1 pound asparagus
2 spring bulb onions (about 1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 pound buckwheat linguine
3 cloves garlic
cup vegetable Stock (recipe in the book)
tablespoon chopped chervil
plus 20 sprigs chervil for garnish
1/2 lemon
1/2 pound ricotta salata cheese

Snap off the ends of the asparagus and peel if the stalks are thick. Slice diagonally 1/4 inch thick,
leaving the tips whole. Trim and peel the spring onions and slice them very thin. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

In a pan big enough for the vegetables to be sautéed, not steamed, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the asparagus and the spring onions, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over high heat for a few minutes, until the vegetables are slightly browned and caramelized. Cook the linguine.

When the vegetables are nearly done, add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. When the vegetables are ready, pour in the vegetable stock to deglaze the pan; add the rest of the butter off the heat, swirling the pan to thicken the sauce. Add the chopped chervil and a squeeze of lemon. Taste for salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and adjust if necessary. Drain the linguine, add to the vegetables, and toss. Serve immediately on warm plates, garnished with crumbled ricotta salata and the chervil sprigs.

Serves 4 to 6.

Marinated Roasted Peppers

Roast whole peppers over a very hot wood or charcoal fire (flaming is best), turning frequently to allow the skins to completely blacken and blister. When they are charred, remove them from the grill and let them steam in a container with a tight-fitting lid or on a plate put inside a plastic bag; steaming loosens the skins and makes the peppers easier to peel.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off their skins. Cut off the stem end and open the peppers up. Remove the core and seeds, Flatten out the pepper, and scrape off any remaining flecks of skin with the back of a paring knife. Cut the peppers in strips the size you want, season with salt and pepper, and marinate in a little olive oil with a few garlic cloves and basil leaves. These make delicious appetizers when served on a freshly grilled garlic crouton, with or without anchovy fillets.

Note: Alternatively, you can roast the peppers, lightly oiled, in a hot oven or under a broiler until the skins are browned and blistered; or put the peppers directly over a gas flame on the stove top to blacken the skins.

Squash Ravioli with Fried Sage

The flavors of sage and sweet squash have a natural affinity for one another. When whole sage leaves are quickly fried in olive oil until crisp, or cut and fried in butter, their pungent taste becomes subtle instead of overpowering.

1 medium acorn or butternut squash
(about 1 pound) or
1 small sweet pumpkin

Salt and pepper
1/2 lemon
1 sprig thyme
2 sprigs parsley
1 bunch fresh sage
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Reggiano
Parmesan cheese

5 sheets fresh pasta, rolled out
to 6 by 24 inches (about
1 pound, or a 2-egg recipe)

Peanut oil
Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Lightly season the inside with salt and pepper and place the squash halves cut side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the squash can be pierced easily with a sharp knife.

While the squash is baking, grate or chop fine the zest of the lemon.
Chop the thyme and parsley and 3 or 4 leaves of the sage.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and purée in a food processor or pass it through the fine disk of a food mill. Measure 2 cups of the squash purée. If there is extra, save it to add to a soup or a potato and celery root purée. If the squash purée seems at all watery, you must dry it out, or it will make the ravioli soggy. Dry out the puree by cooking it slowly in a small saute pan over medium heat. Stir the puree frequently until it is a thick paste. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, chopped herbs, half the Parmesan, and the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. If the puree seems overly sweet, add a few drops of lemon juice. Allow the puree to cool thoroughly. Prepare the pasta dough by rolling out the 6 by 24-inch sheets about twice as thin as you would for a regular noodle. (Keep in mind that the dough will be folded over on itself to form the ravioli.) Either fill a pastry bag with the squash puree or use a tablespoon to fill the ravioli.

Place a sheet of pasta on a floured surface and squeeze or spoon about 1 tablespoonful of filling for each ravioli along the length of the dough, just below the center of the sheet, spacing the mounds about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit 6 spoonfuls on a sheet. Using an atomizer, lightly mist the entire sheet of pasta with water. Lift the 2 top corners of the pasta and fold it in half over the filling. Be careful not to press down on the pasta and seal the edges just yet. Very lightly tap each mound of filling to spread it out a bit. Starting at one end of the pasta, gently but firmly press around each mound of filling, pressing out the air as you go. The goal is to have each ravioli completely sealed without any pockets of air. Use a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to cut the ravioli apart, trimming their edges to about 1/2 inch. Put the finished ravioli on a lightly floured cookie sheet and refrigerate if you aren't going to cook them right away.

Heat about 1/2 inch of peanut oil in a small saute pan until it is hot but not smoking. Drop the remaining sage leaves, a few at a time, into the oil and fry them until the leaves are just beginning to get crisp but have not begun to brown at all, 5 to l0 seconds. (If the sage overcooks, it will be bitter.) Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and carefully drop the ravioli into the pot. Simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes. Check for doneness by
tearing off a little piece and eating it. Scoop the ravioli out of the water with a slotted spoon and place them on a warm serving platter. Drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil over the ravioli, scatter the fried sage leaves over, and sprinkLe with the rest of the Parmesan. Grind some pepper over them if you like, squeeze a little lemon juice over, and serve. The ravioli can also be served in a chicken or vegetable broth, garnished with fresh chopped herbs.

Serves 6