Vegetable recipe book butters plenty of parsnips
As food writer and broadcaster Nigel Slater releases the latest in his veg-focused cookbook series, Ella Walker delivers her own verdict
It is quite possible to never make a single recipe by Nigel Slater but still read his cookbooks - like novels that comfort and nourish through words alone - cover to cover.
But that would leave you feeling unbelievably hungry, and when his food - often just the putting together of a few ingredients - is so reassuring and good, it's tough not to start pulling things from cupboards and perusing the fridge for willing participants.
His new cookbook, part one of two (Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter will be out later in the year), looks to be as restorative and encouraging as ever...
Who will love it?
People who eat, especially those who really like vegetables and those who look forward to spring and summer, not solely for the weather but, more importantly, for the way it changes how and what we scoff for dinner and even where we eat it. This will have you carrying dishes outside to eat, whether you have a huge lawn or just a chair and a wedge of space on a balcony.
What is it trying to get us cooking?
You never get the feeling Slater would try and get anyone to do anything - he's too gentle for that. Instead, he's simply providing options and ideas, based on what he himself would like to eat for dinner. However, the focus is very much veg. Slater is not vegetarian but, as he explains, vegetables rather than animals have been increasingly dominating dinnertime in his house. It's a way of eating that more and more of us are adopting, so why not eat well while we're at it?
How easy is it to use?
Slater's recipes are never counter-intuitive - mostly, the ingredient lists are mercifully short. The same goes for Greenfeast. Nothing is fear-inducingly complicated, and the sections are broken into sensible areas: 'In a bowl', 'On the grill', and 'Pudding', for instance.
The best recipe is...
Aubergine, honey, sheep's cheese - it looks so luxurious, there'd be no sharing it.
The recipe that we're most likely to post pictures of on Instagram is...
Halloumi, melon, chilli - the bright pink of melon, the blazing red of chilli and tomatoes, a hunk of charred halloumi and green hits of coriander - it's a winner.
The dish we're least likely to try is...
Fennel, onions, eggs - while we trust Slater's palate implicitly, this sounds marginally less appetising than, say, asparagus, broad Beans and eggs.
Overall rating: 8/10 - full of vibrancy and brilliantly simple ideas, it'll keep you going all summer. Our only question: Why are there no corn on the cob recipes?
- Greenfeast: Spring, Summer by Nigel Slater, published by 4th Estate Books, £22
Nigel's miso, mushrooms, pak choi
What you'll need
150g sugar snap peas or shelled peas
750ml vegetable or chicken stock
4tbsp white miso paste
3 spring onions
125g pak choi
100g enoki mushrooms
Thai basil, a small bunch
Light soy sauce
1. Bring a medium-sized pan of water to the boil. Add the sugar snaps or shelled peas and let them boil for two minutes, then lift them out with a draining spoon and drop them into a bowl of cold water.
2. Warm the stock in a large pan. When the stock is hot, add the miso, stirring until it has dissolved. The stock should be very hot but not boiling. Finely slice the spring onions and add half to the stock. Halve the pak choi and push them down into the stock. Remove and discard the roots from the enoki mushrooms, then add to the stock.
3. Tear up the Thai basil leaves. Squeeze the juice from the lime. Divide the hot broth between four bowls and add the remaining spring onions, the peas, basil leaves and lime juice. Pass soy sauce around at the table, leaving everyone to season as they wish.