Fields of Greens Cookbook

Greens Restaurant is a celebrated San Francisco eatery that features gourmet vegetarian cuisine. Having read the rave reviews, I purchased the Fields of Greens cookbook shortly after its 1993 publication. While I tried a couple of the recipes, the book pretty much collected dust for the next 20 years. I read through the recipes from time to time but felt as though the skills required to prepare them escaped me.

In September 2015, I decided to challenge myself to make every recipe in the book within a 16-month time horizon (which I beat handily). To my surprise, you don’t need years of training, fancy gadgets, or access to exotic food suppliers to make everything in the book. And Chef Annie Somerville’s expert instruction provided just the right amount of guidance.

One thing you do need is time. Some of the recipes take advanced planning to make ingredients that go into the main recipe (e.g., soup socks, curries). Most recipes require a lot of slicing and dicing. Fresh herbs need to be washed, picked, and chopped finely. Nuts need to be roasted or pan seared to bring out their flavors. Tomatoes need to be flash boiled to loosen and peel their skins before seeding and dicing. (Some of these activities can be done while watching TV.) In short, this style of cooking is not for the faint of heart!

The Fields of Greens cuisine is not low in calories. During the 10+ months of this cooking challenge, we went through more butter, flour, and sugar than we had in the previous 5 years. We both had a bit of trouble maintaining our weight, and I’m not entirely certain that we got a sufficiently balanced intake of macronutrients.

I kept a log that tracked when each recipe what prepared and what we thought of it. With very rare exception, we liked each of the 284 recipes that we sampled. Several dishes were out-and-out WOWs!  Some were too much effort to contemplate preparing them again. Some were a bit too rich for our tastes.

I think of this cookbook as a “fancy meal” resource, not our everyday fare. The soups and salads will inform my ongoing experimentation with cooking. I’ll definitely keep my favorite curries and stews in the rotation. Otherwise, I’ll likely refer to Fields of Greens when preparing for special occasions.

The egg dishes were easy to prepare and added variety to our weekend breakfast extravaganzas. (Our timelines do not favor innovation on weekdays!) We were especially fond of the Green Gulch Special, named for the farm that supplies Greens Restaurant’s fresh produce. This delightful egg scramble includes shiitake mushrooms, tofu, and peppery watercress with seasoning by cilantro, ginger, sesame, and soy sauce. We also really enjoyed the Mexican Scrambled Eggs with Tortillas and Smoked Mozzarella Cheese.

spinach frittata
Spinach and Roasted Pepper Frittata
Frittata with Carmelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Sage topped with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
sweet pepper and basil frittata
Sweet Pepper and Basil Frittata
greek omelet
Greek Omelet with Spinach, Feta Cheese, and Dill
ratatouille omelet
Ratatouille Omelet
cajun omelet
Cajun Omelet
five vegetable omelet
Five Vegetable Omelet with Sesame and Ginger
green gulch special
Green Gulch Special
mexican scrambled eggs
Mexican Scrambled Eggs with Tortillas and Smoked Cheese
scrambled eggs with herbs
Scrambled Eggs with Herbs

The Corn Bread, Banana-Coconut Bread, and Apricot-Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake delighted our brunch guests. We served the Banana-Coconut Bread with honey-infused cream chese. It may have been a bit calorie rich, but what a way to go!

We’re scone lovers, but we found the effort involved in making them from scratch wasn’t up to par. Frankly, it’s hard to compete with the variety, freshness, and cost of the scones that we can get at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market.

The pancake recipes were wonderful. Corn pancakes with poached apricots and toasted pecans proved especially tasty.

corn bread
Corn Bread with Smoked Cheese and Chilies
orange pecan scones
Orange-Pecan Scones
oatmeal raisin scones
Oatmeal-Raisin Scones
banana coconut bread
Banana-Coconut Bread
raspberry almond bread
Raspberry-Almond Bread
apricot-pecan streusel coffee cake
Apricot-Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake
ginger-lemon muffins
Ginger-Lemon Muffins
corn cakes with poached apricots and toasted pecans
Corn Cakes with Poached Apricots and Toasted Pecans
buttermilk pancakes
Buttermilk Pancakes
french toast
French Toast with Orange Zest and Cinnamon

When my father retired in his middle 60s, he used his leisure time to pursue interests for which he had never previously had the time. Among such pursuits was perfecting the art of baking the perfect loaves of whole wheat bread. My folks enjoyed having toast with butter and jam in the morning, and Dad’s creations were welcome additions to their routine.

Unfortunately, neither the bread baking passion nor the talent appears to have transcended the generational gap. I was faithful to my commitment to prepare all of the recipes in the Fields of Greens cookbook, but my breads did not rise to the level of my father’s standards of excellence. We enjoyed the end products with generous helpings of butter, but it’s unlikely that I’ll repeat the experience.

I will miss the smell of freshly baked bread. It makes the whole house feel warm and inviting.

sourdough starter
Sourdough Starter
sourdough corn rye
Sourdough Corn Rye
sourdough batard
Sourdough Bâtard
viennese five grain bread
Viennese Five-Grain Bread
cracked wheat bread
Cracked Wheat Bread
Focaccia Bread with Olives and Fresh Herbs

Though we typically don’t include sandwiches in our diet, we enjoyed every single recipe in this cookbook. They’re really tasty and easy to prepare.

grilled mushroom sandwich
Grilled Sandwich with Mushrooms, Fontina, and Mustard
eggplant sandwich
Baguette Sandwich with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Pesto
baguette sandwich
Baguette Sandwich with Marinated Mushrooms, Roasted Peppers, and Smoked Mozarella Cheese
peppers, spinach and cheese sandwich
Toasted Sourdough Bread with Roasted Peppers, Fontina Cheese, and Spinach
goat cheese, pear, walnut sandwich
Goat Cheese, Pears, and Walnuts on Toasted Sourdough Bread
Open-Face Sandwich with Gorgonzola Cheese. Tomatoes, anbd Basil
Open-Face Sandwich with Gorgonzola Cheese. Tomatoes, anbd Basil
polenta open face sandwiches
Polenta Open-Face Sandwiches
tapenade toasts
Tapenade Toasts

Greens Restaurant prides itself on the innovative use of fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. All of this freshness finds full expression in the wealth of salad recipes in Fields of Greens.

The Leafy Greens recipes leverage all kinds of lettuces – romaine, radicchio, arugula, chicory, Belgian endive, watercress, escarole, and spinach, to name a few. They’re paired with an assortment of vegetables and tossed in a wonderful collection of vinaigrette dressings. While I’m unlikely to make exact replicas of these dishes in the future, I’ll keep the dressings in our salad line-up. My favorites: Spinach Salad with Tangerines, Red Onions, and Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette and the Figs and Melon with Orange Vinaigrette.

The beans and grains salads combine the lightness of the grains with flavorful beans and seasoned dressings. The Spicy Black Beans with Chilies and Lime will be a staple in our household.

We also enjoyed the marinated vegetable salads. The Spring Vegetables with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette tops our list.

Leafy Greens

Romaine Hearts with Sourdough Croutons and Parmesan Cheese
Romaine Hearts with Sourdough Croutons and Parmesan Cheese
beans, goat cheese, hazelnut salad
Mixed Greens with Beans, Goat Cheese, and Hazelnuts
avocado, mango, ginger salad
Salad with Avocado, Mango, and Ginger Dressing
wilted spinach salad
Wilted Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers
avocado grapefruit ginger salad
Salad with Avocado, Ruby Grapefruit, Pomegranate, and Pecans
fall greens
Fall Greens with Marinated Mushrooms, Fennel, and Gruyère Cheese
citrus salad
Citrus Salad with Bitter Greens
winter greens with apples, pecans, and cheese
Winter Greens with Apples, Pecans, and Cheese
goat cheese and sun dried tomato salad
Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
winter greens with pears and walnuts
Winter Greens with Pears and Walnuts
romaine salad
Romaine Hearts with Avocado, Jícama, and Orange
mango salad
Mango Salad with Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette
spinach salad
Spinach Salad with Oranges, Red Onions, and Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette
figs and melon salad
Figs and Melon with Orange Vinaigrette

Beans and Grains

cannellini beans
Cannellini Beans with Tomatoes and Basil
white beans and flageolets salad
White Beans and Flageolets with Beans, Lemon, and Tarragon
three bean salad
Three-Bean Salad with Jícama and Orange
chick pea salad
Chick-Pea and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad
spicy black beans
Spicy Black Beans with Chilies and Lime
lentil salad
Lentil Salad with Curry Spices and Yogurt
basmati and wild rice salad
Basmati and Wild Rice Salad with Tangerines and Pine Nuts
corn and bulgar salad
Corn and Bulgar Salad with Cilantro and Lime
Dolmas – Grape Leaves Stuffed with Fragrant Rice
couscous salad with apricots, pine nuts, and ginger
Couscous Salad with Apricots, Pine Nuts, and Ginger

Marinated Vegetables

spicy corn with chilis and cilantro
Spicy Corn with Chilis and Cilantro
fall salad
Fall Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Scallions
grilled potato salad
Grilled Potato Salad with Chipolte Viniagrette
potato salad
Potato Salad with Artichokes and Lemon-Tarragon Vinaigrette
new-potato-salad-with tomatoes, beans, and basil
New Potato Salad with Grape Tomatoes, Summer Beans, and Basil
spring vegetables
Spring Vegetables with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
tomato salad
Tomato Salad with Avocado and Citrus-Chili Vinaigrette
tomato salad
Vine-Ripened Tomatoes with Goat Cheese & Basil Vinaigrette
tomato salad
Tomato Salad with Cucumbers, Feta Cheese, Oregano, and Mint
baba ghanouj
Baba Ghanouj
sicilian salad
Sicilian Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Peppers, and Garlic
beets with watercress and orange
Beets with Watercress and Orange
summer beans with cherry tomatoes
Summer Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Tarragon
broccoli with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts
Broccoli with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
marinated mushrooms and peppers
Marinated Mushrooms and Roasted Peppers with Kalamata Olives
roasted peppers with cheese and herbs
Roasted Peppers with Cheese and Herbs
chinese cabbage
Chinese Cabbage with Lemon and Ginger
eggplant caviar
Eggplant Caviar
jicama-orange salad
Jícama-Orange Salad

I love eating hot soup on a cold Fall or Winter evening. So I was delighted to be introduced to a whole new set of recipes to warm the cockles of my heart. I highly recommend going to the effort of preparing homemade soup stock (for which there are several outstanding recipes). It provides a fresh and flavorful base that makes each soup really savory. Where tomatoes are included, I use fresh versus canned. The latter adds a flavoring that overwhelms the subtlety of the other vegetables and herbs. All of the soup stocks are low sodium, and the remnants are worthy additions to our compost pile.

My favorites include: Potato-Corn Chowder (using fresh ears of corn), Winter Greens Soup (using kale, chard, and spinach – a.k.a., super foods), Butter Squash Soup with Apple Confit, and Mushroom Soup with Caramelized Onions. FYI: It takes a bit of effort to prepare the caramelized onions, but the resulting mushroom soup is delightful!

tomato and white bean soup
Tomato, White Bean, and Spinach Soup
asparagus soup
Asparagus Soup
leek and basmati rice soup
Leek and Basmati Rice Soup
tomato fennel soup
Tomato-Fennel Soup with Garlic Croutons and Parmesan Cheese
spicy corn and chick pea soup
Spicy Corn and Chick-Pea Soup with Chilies
palak shorva
Palak Shorva – Curried Spinach with Toasted Coconut
potato corn chowder
Potato-Corn Chowder
green corn soup
Green Corn Soup
pepper and corn soup
Pepper and Corn Soup
summer minestrone
Summer Minestrone
chilled beet soup
Chilled Beet Soup with Dill
butternut squash soup
Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Confit
tomato soup
Tomato, Saffron, and Roasted Garlic Soup
mexican lentil soup
Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic and Chilis
potato soup with pesto
Potato Soup with Pesto
winter greens soup
Winter Greens Soup
potato leek and celery root soup
Potato, Leek, and Celery Root Soup
tuscan white bean soup
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Rosemary Croutons
spicy black bean soup
Spicy Black Bean Soup
moroccan lentil soup
Moroccan Lentil Soup
mushroom soup with carmelized onions
Mushroom Soup with Carmelized Onions
mushroom barley soup
Mushroom-Barley Soup
carrot soup
Carrot Soup with North African Spices
carrot leek soup
Carrot-Leek Soup with Gruyere Cheese and Thyme
roman tomato lentil soup
Roman Tomato Lentil Soup

I am a BIG FAN of the Annie Somerville’s curries and stews. Admittedly, they’re rather intimidating at first blush. For my favorite recipe – Summer Vegetables with Red Curry – the process starts by making a lemongrass soup stock from scratch. The stock is then used when simmering sweet red peppers, chilies, coconut milk, and spices to create the red curry. After slicing, dicing, and sautéing a host of fresh vegetables with toasted spices, the curry gets added to the mix and does its magic. (FYI – I’ve learned to make the time pass pleasantly by listening to great music while cooking.) The end result is something of which dreams are made.

The Winter Vegetable Pie is another “high maintenance” dish that is well worth the effort. One makes a butter and flour roux on the stovetop to which a reduction of homemade mushroom stock is added gradually. This sauce provides rich flavoring for a collective of vegetables which includes celery root, dried porcini mushrooms, white mushroom, fennel, carrots, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs. This mixture fills a pie dish and is capped with flaky tart dough. While each slice proved a bit runny on the plate, it hardly affected our enjoyment.

A word of advice when baking the Winter Venegatble Pie: Place a cookie sheet under the pie pan. The filling may ooze out the sides and start burning on the bottom of the oven.

For a less labor-intensive meal, I’d recommend the Southern Rio Stew.

spring vegetables curry, basmati rice, and mango papaya chutney
Spring Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Mango-Papaya Chutney
red curry and apricot chutney
Summer Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Apricot Chutney
winter vegetable curry
Winter Vegetable Curry with Fiery Pineapple Chutney
north african vegetable stew
North African Vegetable Stew
creole mushroom and papper stew
Creole Mushroom and Pepper Stew
southern rio stew
Southern Rio Stew
winter vegetable pie
Winter Vegetable Pie

The Tomato-Basil Tart with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese was our first foray into tart making. I’d never made tart dough before, so I thought I’d have a real issue pulling it off. Fortunately, my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer did most of the work. While my rolling pin skills leave much to be desired, the end result was quite tasty if not the aesthetic masterpiece for which I’d hoped!

We weren’t high on the fritters. The recipes are well-conceived, but it’s just not a style of cooking that we find particularly appealing. That being said, our favorite dish was the O Konomi Yaki with a ginger, sesame oil and soy dipping sauce.

southwestern corn tart
Southwestern Corn Tart
eggplant tart
Eggplant and Roasted Garlic Tart
asparagus tart
Spring Tart with Asparagus and Red Onions
Tomato Basil Tart with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
Tomato Basil Tart with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
leek and olive tart
Leek and Olive Tart
potato cakes
Potato Cakes with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
spinach and mung dal cakes
Spinach and Mung Dal Cakes with Mint-Cilantro Sauce
spinach cakes
Spinach Cakes with Shiitake Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, and Salsa Verde
spicy corn cakes
Spicy Corn Cakes with Smoked Cheese and Chilis
savory vegetable cakes
O Konomi Yaki (Savory Vegetable Cakes) with Dipping Sauce

I’ve never cooked with filo dough and felt quite intimidated by the prospect of working with it. I also feared that it would be difficult to find. But, lo and behold, there it was in my WalMart Neighborhood Market!

The filo sheets are quite delicate and need to be processed with all due haste before they dry out. I found it quite useful to have an abundance of sheets so as not to worry about the ones that tore due to my clumsy handling. (BTW – I got better at working with it over time.) The filo casseroles were absolutely delicious and real crowd pleasers. They made me look as though I knew my way around a gourmet kitchen.

The turnovers proved a bit too rich and starchy for our blood. We prefer more filling and less pastry. The enchiladas were tasty but unremarkable. Quesadillas are always a good idea!

pastry turnover with corn, peppers, and chilies
Pastry Turnover with Corn, Peppers, and Chilies
butternut squash turnover
Pastry Turnovers with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Thyme
mushroom filo turnovers
Filo Turnovers with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts
spinach filo turnovers
Filo Turnovers with Spinach, Feta Cheese, and Rosemary
mushroom-leek filo
Mushroom-Leek filo with Gruyère Cheese and Thyme
spinach and mushroom filo
Filo with Spinach, Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, and Pine Nuts
artichoke filo
Artichoke with Sun-Dried Tomato Filo
enchiladas rojas
Enchiladas Rojas
enchiladas verdes
Enchiladas Verdes