Grow, Cook, Eat by Willi Galloway is a handy little book, despite the entertainingly transparent subtitle: A Food Lover's Guide to Vegetable Gardening Including 50 Recipes, Plus Harvesting and Storage Tips. If you're spending your Saturday tending to your vegetable garden rather than pruning roses, we're pretty sure you're more likely an avid “food lover” than a weekend scented-candlemaker sort.

Semantics aside, it's simply a long-winded reminder that agents or publishers often come up with titles and book jacket cover blurbs, not authors, as the book itself is a fun little reference guide. Expect an encyclopedic layout, only here in a large-format, photo-driven style that makes those monologues on growing onions more engaging. In each vegetable category you'll find basics on growing, say, spinach and mustard greens followed by several recipes (spinach risotto, mustard green turnovers).

A side note: Check out Galloway's blog for community garden-friendly vegetable trellis and other handy summer “How not to grow a tomato” ideas. But first, get the rest of our review, and Galloway's citrusy roasted beet recipe, after the jump.

Sure, several of the recipes in Grow, Cook, Eat could be livened up a bit, as we were hoping for a bit more than garlic-roasted broccoli (p. 173) and balsamic-roasted onions (p. 211) inspiration at this point in our backyard farmers market career. But there is still enough lemon verbena syrup fun (drizzle over melon slices) and butternut squash taco recipe fodder to make the book a summer-worthy hostess gift for those still in that weekend gardening/cooking internship phase.

Beets from Tutti Frutti Farms; Credit: Felicia Friesema

Beets from Tutti Frutti Farms; Credit: Felicia Friesema

As for the current window of Southern California produce opportunity, Galloway's recipe for oven-roasted beets with citrus vinaigrette seems particularly appropriate. Right about now the very last blood oranges are taking their May bows, the spring thyme is in full bloom and year-round produce like beets are always growing strong. A few between-season bites to tide us over until we look up, suddenly, and that first really fantastic heirloom tomato lands us right in the middle of summer.

Oven-Roasted Beets With Citrus Vinaigrette

Note: From Grow, Cook, Eat by Willi Galloway.

Serves 4

3 large beets (about 1½ pounds), washed and trimmed

½ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (about 3 medium blood oranges)

¼ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (about 1 medium grapefruit)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon blood orange zest

½ teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil. Place them seam side up on rimmed baking sheet and roast until fork-tender, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size of beets.

2. Carefully open the packets, draining off any juice inside. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and discard; chop the beets into ½-inch chunks.

Combine the blood orange, grapefruit, and lemon juices in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently until reduced to ¼ cup.

3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey and vinegar. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Toss the beets with the blood orange and lemon zests and ¼ cup of the vinaigrette; marinate for at least 20 minutes. Garnish with the thyme before serving.

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