Eat Your Veg
By Arthur Potts Dawson
Mitchell Beazley, £25
Eat Your Veg is a substantial piece of work with lots of recipes and pictures to help you along. Books on vegetable cookery are, of course, not quite the same thing as books on vegetarian food. This one allows the occasional piece of bacon, smoked mackerel or chicken and is really aimed at those who enjoy vegetables and are bored with their current repertoire of treatments, maybe desperate for some inspiration.
The book divides into vegetable types rather than seasons. This is a relief, in fact, for although we would all subscribe to the mantra of local and seasonal being best, I am ancient enough to remember post-war England when all you could buy was what happened to be seasonable and local. So it was spinach beet, sprouts and cabbage for a big chunk of the year along with large woody parsnips and turnips and just two varieties of potato. Happy days? I never thought so.
The scope, variety and quality of vegetables has never been better than now. Never mind all the whingeing about dull supermarket uniformity, there is fabulous produce to be had from growers who care about flavour and there is the pick of the globe's harvest when nothing much is growing on our own green and pleasant land: broad beans and baby artichokes from Italy, gorgeous apricots from the south of France, olives from Greece, chickpeas and pulses from across the Mediterranean.
So rather than vegetables being the permanent junior partner in a meal, making up the space on the plate next to whatever protein is centre stage, there is the possibility of vegetable-centred meals which will be great to eat rather than allow you just to feel virtuous
On offer here is a lentil tart with sweet potato and crème fraîche, breadcrumbed fennel slices with lime and chilli dressing and a lovely sounding root vegetable broth with fresh ginger and soy sauce. The side dishes tend toward non-frightening but still interesting treatments of produce like spinach; for instance, creamed spinach with garlic and shallots or blanched spinach with olive oil and lemon, either of which could cheer up a veal cutlet or chicken leg rather nicely.
Potts Dawson's time at the River Café adds an Italian sparkle to the book. I liked the raw porcini salad with Parmesan and parsley but Switzerland gets a nod too with spaetzle partnered with samphire, and chilli to brighten up some red mullet fillets. A nice book.
By Shaun Hill, chef-proprietor, the Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid
If you like this, you'll love these
The Greens Cookbook Deborah Madison
â- River Café Cook Book Green Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
â- Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book Jane Grigson