Listen to Austin 360 Radio

'Nimble Cook' author (and former Austin chef) Ronna Welsh returning for book events next week

Addie Broyles
Former Austinite Ronna Welsh, left, and the Austin-based illustrator Diana Vassar will be at BookPeople for an event on April 23. [Contributed]

Ronna Welsh was part of the Austin food scene in the 1990s, where she worked at several local restaurants, a now-closed Clarksville food shop called Lilly & Co. and as a food writer for the Austin Chronicle, but then she moved to Brooklyn to continue her career as a chef and culinary instructor.

After living abroad in France, Spain, Greece and Sicily, Welsh ended up opening Purple Kale Kitchenworks in Brooklyn, where she continues to teach cooking classes, but this year, she published her first book, "The Nimble Cook: New Strategies for Great Meals That Make the Most of Your Ingredients" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30). This cookbook, illustrated by Austinite Diana Vassar, explains how to take the strategies she learned in restaurants, namely time management and efficient use of ingredients, to make home cooking-friendly foods.

Welsh will be in Austin next week for a book signing event at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at BookPeople, followed by a cooking class at Central Market on Wednesday. The BookPeople event is free, but you can still buy tickets ($65) to the Central Market class.  

Green Beans and Corn with Ricotta Salata

In this salad, green beans — briefly blanched — are tossed with a compound butter seasoned with oregano, cumin, and lemon. Add raw, crunchy corn and salty ricotta salata, and you have an outstanding side dish. The salad is especially quick to assemble if you have corn already off the cob and beans already blanched. If you do not have precooked beans, you can blanch them right before mixing them with the seasoned butter, skipping the ice bath altogether. If you don’t plan to serve all the salad at once and your vegetables are especially fresh, you can store the dressed corn and beans in the refrigerator for a couple of days, adding the ricotta salata just before serving.

— Ronna Welsh

1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound blanched green beans, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups, see below)

2 cups yellow corn kernels

2 ounces ricotta salata cheese

Blanched Garlic Scapes or Green Beans

Blanched, green beans and scapes become crunchy, juicy, refreshing and a bit sweet. I often use them interchangeably, sometimes favoring the scape because it keeps longer. I like to feature cold blanched scapes or beans on their own plate, dressed with mustard vinaigrette and radishes, or with crème fraîche and pancetta.

6 quarts water

4 tablespoons coarse kosher salt

3/4 pound garlic scapes, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, or 1 pound green beans, trimmed

Fill a large bowl with 2 quarts of the water. Add a large handful of ice and 2 tablespoons of the salt. Bring the remaining 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt. Add the scapes all at once, submerging them with tongs or pressing them down with a large strainer. When they are tender, 2 to 3 minutes for scapes and 1 to 2 minutes for green beans, drain them and plunge them into the ice bath. Stir them a couple of times in the ice water so they cool faster and evenly. Once completely cold, drain well. Serve, or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 5 days. Serves 4.

— From "The Nimble Cook: New Strategies for Great Meals That Make the Most of Your Ingredients" by Ronna Welsh (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30)