I don’t know how some people don’t like vegetables (and there are plenty out there!), but I’m convinced that any number of recipes in Alice Hart’s Good Veg: Ebullient Vegetables, Global Flavors — A Modern Vegetarian Cookbook just might bring them around. The key to satisfying vegetarian cooking (and one can assume, eating!) is in the contrast, Alice says — the balance of flavours, textures and temperature will elevate any meat-free meal. The U.K. author’s careful consideration to contrast and balance is evident throughout the book, which comprises some 200 recipes for mornings, grazing and gatherings, as well as “quick”, “thrify” and “raw-ish” meals. It’s aimed at “keen and interested” home cooks who want to make the most of the fresh produce available and in turn, discover new ways with fruits, veggies and grains that they’ll want to make again and again. Think Coconut-Chia Strawberry Bowls, Corn Tortillas with Avocado and Charred Scallions, Eggplant and Sweet Potato Lasagna with Walnuts, and Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Walnut-Sesame Brittle. Hello!
I tried two dishes, the Squash and Sesame Fritters (above) and the Fondue Tomatoes with Mozzarella (below), two summery-sounding dishes that hit the spot and didn’t leave me hungry an hour later, as some lighter summer fare will do. I baked the fritters instead of frying them like the recipe called for (I found they held together better in the oven) and immediately wished I’d made more. Next time I’ll double the batch to have on hand hot or cold with a dollop of Alice’s delicious sesame-yogurt sauce. The tomatoes roast in the oven for two hours at 300 degrees F so that one’s best suited for a cooler day, or I suppose you could make them the night before and reheat them for a morning meal.
Prep and total cooking times are not included with the recipes so you have to learn by doing, and the Quick and Thrifty chapters for faster mid-week cooking aren’t meant to be rushed. (Albeit with less fuss.)
“I want you to feel inspired and happy to be in the kitchen, rather than coaxed there with broken dreams of supper-in-six-minutes-using-only-three-ingredients,” Alice writes. (Don’t you love this woman already?) “Quick, for me, means a good supper in thirty minutes or so . . . and time to unwind as I cook.”
The photography is stunning — the colours and textures of the ingredients both raw and cooked seem to leap off the page. The Salted Chocolate and Almond Truffles look divine, and the Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad both wholesome and flavourful. I’m anxious to try Alice’s Roasted Broccoli Tart with a Cauliflower Crust and dip my toe into East Asian cooking with the Vegetarian Pad Thai (figuratively speaking, you understand — I won’t actually dip my toe in there, ha ha).
If you pick up the book, let me know. I’d love to hear what you make!
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Thomas Allen & Son sent me a copy of Good Veg in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.