When I open a cookbook, I usually have some sort of intent, a hungry ambition so to speak. I’m either looking for a very specific recipe or at least a specific course (ok, let’s be honest, I’m usually looking for the three magic c’s: cookies, cakes and candy). I decided to go a different route with Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs’ The Food 52 Cookbook. This time, I decided to let the cookbook guide me. This is the second volume from Food 52 (a collaborative online cooking community) team and the book’s theme is “seasonal recipes from our kitchens to yours.” The book is a compilation of recipes from home cooks—the every day kitchen crusaders. What better inspiration than my fellow home cooks?

My absolute favorite feature of this cookbook is that it is segmented by season. Fruits and veggies are their best when they’re local and fresh so of course they make the best recipes! I am lucky enough to have a winter farmer’s market that recently had beautiful butternut squash so I snagged one, confident that there would be a delicious recipe in The Food 52 Cookbook.  After many mouth watering perusals through the book, I landed on Caramelized

Butternut Squash Wedges with Sage Hazelnut Pesto. I had hazelnuts in my pantry (half the battle) and I was intrigued! I promise it was a coincidence that this is the beautiful recipe that graces the cover of the cookbook…what can I say, I’m just naturally drawn to sage and butternut squash.

The recipe was simple, straightforward and for the very first time in my entire life…wait for it…my final product looked like it did on the cover of the cookbook! How cool is that? The flavors were a perfect combination of sweet, spicy, salty and nutty; everything I could ever want in a squash recipe. Not to toot my own horn but really, I was very impressive. I can’t take all the credit though; the recipe came from Melissa V. a fellow home cook, lawyer, and member of The Food 52 community. As with all of the recipes in the book, it opens with a “who, what, how, and why we love it” about the home cook and their recipe. This fun little introduction makes the food feel familiar and it reminds you that someone else has stood in their own home, clumsily peeling a butternut squash, sniffing the sage leaves and sneakily stealing a taste of the final product before anyone sees you.

At the end of each recipe, there is a spot for “What the community said” and “Tips and Techniques” where a selection of Food 52 member quotes sing the recipe’s praise and put in their two cents from their own experience with the recipe—I took a little advice from member ABCDelicious and made the pesto again to put over butternut squash ravioli-yum! We all need a little help and inspiration from our online community of foodie friends every once in a while and I can’t think of a better cookbook and compilation or recipes than The Food 52 Cookbook.


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