Valerie Rice brings a seasonal symphony of gardening, cooking, and entertaining to Lush Life, a glossy new cookbook from the author of eatdrinkgarden.com. “We’re so lucky that you can grow year-round gardens here,” said Rice, who populated her first book with 150 seasonal recipes, including cocktails, entertaining tips, wine pairing advice from renowned expert Rajat Parr, and gorgeous photography by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls.
“It’s kind of a handbook for life here in Santa Barbara,” said Rice, who believes the key to deliciousness all starts in the garden. “When you grow in season, it not only tastes better and works better but also is great for palate fatigue.” She suggests starting “with a sunny spot in your garden and make sure you have great soil” and then mixing compost and organic potting soil together and calendaring at least two days a week to work in the dirt. Keep the garden where you can see it from the kitchen. “Grow something that you really
love to eat so you’re excited to go out there and harvest it,” she said. “And grow what is
appropriate for the season.”
With this in mind, each section of Lush Life starts with tips on what to eat for that season and what to plant for the next season. “What grows together goes together,” advised Rice, “so whether you’re pulling it from your garden or walking around the Tuesday Farmers’ Market, a lot of the stuff that’s offered is just delicious together.”
Here is a streamlined version of her spring recipe for Golden Beets & Blood Oranges
with Citrus Vinaigrette.
CITRUS VINAIGRETTE: In a mason jar, shake ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
SALAD: Boil 6 to 8 medium golden beets and cool. Slice 6 blood oranges into ½-inch-thick slices, and place in a bowl with any reserved juices from the cutting board. Toss the beets with 2 cups of lightly packed watercress or mâche, arrange in a shallow bowl or platter, and tuck in the orange slices. Taste for seasoning and add more dressing, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with mint.