Fresh Food Fast By Chef Peter Berley - Cookbook Review

Fresh corn polenta captures the best of the season

More and more cookbooks are skipping the meat, poultry and fish aisles these days.

Chef Peter Berley was ahead of the curve with his classic vegetarian book, Fresh Food Fast ($20), just rereleased in paperback. It extols the pleasure of making meals in "real time," or when ingredients are as fresh as possible.

Berley's recipes require minimal preparation to let its components shine. He offers time-saving techniques for novice cooks, such as learning to love the pressure cooker, and offers useful tips for more complicated tasks such as prepping baby artichokes.

Organized by season, the eclectic recipes span global cuisines (chilled soba in dashi; sweet potato-and-red lentil curry), while menus comprising two or three dishes include a handy shopping list.

We tried Berley's Fresh Corn Polenta with Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes (see the recipe)–ideal for this time of year, as corn and tomatoes are both reaching their peak. We enjoyed the contrasting textures of the creamy polenta and kernels–and how it captures the glory of the season.

Who would have a beef with that?