My rating: 4 1/2 stars
The best celebration of the Vegetable I’ve ever read. A must for carnivores wanting to eat more veg and compulsory for every vegetarian.
As a committed and rather ignorant carnivore I was reluctant to like this book. After reading it and cooking from it I have crossed to the other side. I love vegetables now thanks to Hugh’s delicious non-low fat, non- dogmatic and non- pious approach to vegetarian food.
Hugh (a committed carnivore himself) keeps the politics out and really commits to providing tasty vegetable recipes (over 200) suitable for main meals.
Thankfully this is not a health food cookbook and Hugh uses butter, cheese and pastry in sensible proportions.
These are vegetable dishes so tasty that you won’t miss meat at all.
The only gripe is that there are very few dessert recipes and I wish there was a beetroot chocolate or carrot cake.
Nevertheless, this cookbook is approachable, delicious, easy to make and uses familiar ingredients.
So how does this book cook?
Spinach, penne and cheese spouffle
- 300 ml whole milk
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ onion
- A few black peppercorns
- 100g penne or similar shaped pasta
- A little rapeseed or olive oil
- 250 g spinach, any tough stalks removed
- 50 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
- 50 g plain flour
- 75 g mature Cheddar, finely grated
- A little fresh grated nutmeg
- 3 large eggs, separated, plus 1 extra egg white
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 190C/Gas mark 5 and put a baking sheet in to heat up. Liberally butter a 1.5 litre soufflé dish or fairly deep ovenproof dish of similar capacity.
Put the milk, bay leaf, onion and pepper corns into a small pan and bring to just below a simmer. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse.
Bring a pan of well salted water to the boil. Add the penne to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain well, and then toss in a tiny bit of oil to stop it sticking together.
Cook the spinach with just the water clinging to it after washing, in a large covered pan over a medium heat until wilted – just a few minutes. Drain well. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the liquid with your hands, then roughly chop the spinach.
Heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat, stir in the flour to form a roux and cook for a few minutes. Reheat the infused milk, then strain. Off the heat, add the milk to the roux, a third at a time, beating well; you will end up with a very thick béchamel sauce. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutmeg, chopped spinach and some salt and pepper – it should be well seasoned. Beat in the egg yolks then fold in the cooked penne.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks. Stir in a spoonful into the béchamel mix to loosen it, and then carefully fold in the rest. Tip into the buttered dish and place on the hot baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 25-30 mins until well risen and golden. Serve straight away.
This taste delicious, rich, filling and light at the same time. There were lots of other recipes I was keen to try including:
Below: Aubergine parmegiana; Kale and mushrrom lasagne, Spinach cheese pasta spouffle; Lettuce spring onion and cheese tart
I received my copy gratis but found the best online prices at: