Follow Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s advice, and you will be happier:
Call me power-crazed, but I’m trying to change your life here. The object of the exercise is, unambiguously, to persuade you to eat more vegetables. Many more vegetables. Perhaps even to make veg the mainstay of your daily cooking. And therefore by implication, to eat less meat, maybe a lot less meat, and maybe a bit less fish, too. Why? We need to eat more vegetables and less flesh because vegetables are the food that do us the most good and our planet the least harm. (p. 9)
Why will you be happier? Because River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes (Ten Speed 2013) is such an excellent book. He knows food – and that is why his recipes are for people who love meat, but know better than to eat too much of it.
Winter or summer, start one of the recipes in the first chapter, Comfort Food & Feasts. Choose Eggplant and Green Bean Curry (p. 29) or a hearty North African Squash and Chickpea Stew (p. 30) both with rich spices that will make you forget that you aren’t eating meat. If your farmer’s market is bursting with Swiss chard, then make Beet Greens (or Chard) and Ricotta Tart (p. 47) with ricotta salata and thyme. If you are ready for summer salads, then the Hearty Salads chapter has plenty of main dish salads that will fill you up.
: Whether you are entertaining guests with a lavish spread or just sitting down to a simple family supper, these hearty salads will always bring a riot of seasonal color and impeccable good taste to your table. This is the kind of food that will make you think, “I really must do this more often.” And I’m really hoping you will. (p. 69)
He includes Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad (p. 71) with an Asian dressing, and New Potato, Tomato, and Boiled Egg Salad (p. 76) in which soft egg yolks are mixed with a vinaigrette.
River Cottage Veg is a thick book with over 200 recipes – enough to get you started on a more vegetable-centric diet. Vegan recipes are indicated – though this isn’t a vegan book, since dairy products are used liberally. However, any clever vegan or gluten-free dieter could easily adapt most recipes. The photographs by Simon Wheeler and illustrations by Mariko Jesse make even Green Lentil and Spinach Soup look enticing or the Upside-down Onion Tart look like a tart Tatin.
If you have a reluctant veggie eater or a novice cook – then River Cottage Veg might just be the book to nudge them towards healthy eating and successful cooking. Many of the recipes are easy – and yet add something you might not have thought of to make ordinary vegetables taste much better. Follow Hugh.