Jeremy Fox’s spring peas with white chocolate and macadamia nuts

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You can always hear it in chef Jeremy Fox‘s voice when he gets going on the subject of spring. His pace quickens in anticipation of winter root vegetables giving way to tender, young stalks of asparagus, English peas and artichokes. It’s a time of year when menus become fresher and simpler, and dishes depend less on the heavier sauces and seasonings that carry us through the colder months.

To mark the occasion, Fox has published his long-awaited cookbook, “On Vegetables.” The book is a heartfelt love letter to legumes that unfolds in a series of recipes. Fox recalls his early days staging in restaurant kitchens before rising up through the ranks to chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos, and the legendary (and now closed) Ubuntu in Napa.

It was 2007 when Fox put Ubuntu on the map, championing vegetable-focused “seed-to-stalk” cooking long before the practice of eliminating food waste was trendy. Chefs and critics alike flocked to Northern California to experience Fox’s hyper-seasonal assemblages of ingredients picked fresh from the restaurant-slash-yoga studio’s garden. Dishes like this recipe for spring peas with white chocolate and macadamia nuts still hold a special place for those who were lucky enough to have made the pilgrimage to wine country. Fox’s menu at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, where he is currently chef de cuisine, may be less complicated than his Ubuntu days, but it still showcases Fox’s knack for turning vegetables into true expressions of seasonal flavor. And that can only be a good thing.