Chopped or tossed, Caesar or Cobb, salads come in many forms. With her 12th book, Salad as a Meal, Patricia Wells celebrates salads with her cultivated, creative and completely irresistible interpretations. According to Wells, a salad doesn’t have to have lettuce or greens; it can be a “light and refreshing salad-related entity.” And when you look through the 150-plus recipes gathered here, you’ll find that much of the pleasure is in the treasures that pair with salads. Wells starts off with “sidekicks,” like Curried Pumpkin Seeds or Tapenade “Toasts,” that garnish, add crunch or double as appetizers, and concludes with pantry staples, from homemade cornichons to seasoned salts, dressings and sauces. She delights in adding a good hit of protein—grilled fresh tuna in her sensational Salade Niçoise, shredded chicken breast in a Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad, Pot-au-Feu Beef Salad—and in providing the perfect bread accompaniments: flat, crispy, homemade pita, quick bread with figs and hazelnuts or ham and cheese. Salad never had it so good.

A foodie friend just told me that pies are the new cupcakes, but whether cupcakes are “in” or “out,” they remain the little darlings of baking—cheerful, chubby and ever-popular. Jan Moon fell in love with baking and cupcakes when she got her first Easy-Bake Oven at age five. She dreamed of having a bakery for years, worked in the test kitchens of Southern Living and Cooking Light, then struck out on her own and opened Dreamcakes, her super-successful bakery on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama, where making cupcakes is a passion and an art. With Big Book of Cupcakes, Jan lets us in on her signature confections: 150 pint-sized prizes that hit the sweet spot on the dot, each with an almost edible photo. For openers, “Cupcakes 101” gives you the basics on tools and equipment, baking tips and techniques, pantry essentials and special touches. Then on to the fun stuff, the fluffy, rainbow-hued frostings, charming decorations and innovative flavors that have taken cupcakes out of the lunch box and into the gourmet limelight at weddings, holidays, birthdays and beyond.

It’s that wonderful time of year when produce is plentiful and locally grown, when roadside stands and farmer’s markets beckon and when we all look for new ways to serve up Mother Nature’s bounty. To that healthy and enjoyable end, Barbara Scott-Goodman and Liz Trovato give us Eat Greens, with 120 recipes arranged from A to Z (what would we do without zucchini!) and liberally seasoned with full-color photos. Barbara and Liz don’t think of veggies as side dishes; they shine as the main ingredients in appetizers, soups, salads and entrées. You’ll find intriguing ways to steam, sauté, stir-fry, braise, roast and blanch them, from elegantly simple dishes like Green Bean, Prosciutto, and Parmesan Salad and sublimely summery Sautéed Snap Peas, Sweet Corn, and Red Peppers to Herbed Leek and Watercress Soup and Escarole Bundles (stuffed with ricotta and raisins) with Tomato and Olive Sauce. An informative intro sets the scene for each of the 29 greens, while good header notes help you pick a peck of delicious veggie dishes.

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