You may have lost track of Deborah Madison in the 15 years since “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” was published, its cover sporting a young Madison with a wooden spoon and a determined expression. Encyclopedic and popular, “Vegetarian Cooking” showed you what you didn’t know how to make, and how to improve what you did.
In the years since, vegetable books have sprung up like clumps of chives in spring, and Madison, who started her cooking career at Chez Panisse and went on to open Greens restaurant in San Francisco, has quietly published smaller, less ambitious books of her own. But “Vegetable Literacy” is a major production. Its signal feature is organization by category — the cabbage family (broccoli, turnips, Brussels sprouts), the nightshade family (eggplants, tomatoes), the cucurbits (zucchini, cucumbers), and so forth. This makes all kinds of sense, because vegetable cousins behave similarly in the kitchen and on the plate.