Root & Leaf -Rich Harris
by Nick Harman - Tuesday August 7, 2018 10:08 am
With so many vegetarian books around, you’re spoilt for choice. So, keep it simple, this is the droid you’re looking for.
It’s remarkable how vegetarian and vegan has become fashionable. Or perhaps not, maybe it’s the inevitable backlash against the preceding years’ insistence that we all eat ‘filthy’ food and gorge on red meat while sporting a caveman beard.
I suppose it’s because many of those fat-eating, fad-following, foodies have now grown up, noticed the pasty tone of their skin, their burgeoning bellies, their persistent spots and the unpleasantness of their ‘meat sweats’. Yes, getting a ‘meat sweat’ was once regarded as a good thing.
Root & Leaf is a vegetarian book that is simply bursting with ideas and flavours, our review copy has become stained and dog-eared from being used so much in the last weeks. There’s not a single recipe that doesn’t cry out to be cooked.
He’s a presenter there, but he has spent a career working behind the scenes on food programmes and as a private chef. He’s a food professional, not a celeb chef.
And he’s not a vegan or even a vegetarian, he eats meat too, but he loves the big taste possibilities of vegetables, the complementary textures and tones.
These dishes can be used as accompaniment to meat, or as big plates on their own. Miso glazed pumpkin, gnocchi with caponata and burrata cream; butternut squash laksa, flatbreads with creamed feta and sticky aubergines; kimchi grilled cheese sandwich; chili paneer; spiced carrot kufli.
I loved the grilled corn salad with feta and burnt chilli dressing and popcorn, even though I broke a filling on an unpopped corn, I should have sifted through first.
There can be a lot of ingredients, it’s true, but you can cheat and buy some of the spice pastes, the kimchi and other must haves and keep them to hand.
There’s so much to cook here, I’m looking at making the sweet potato cinnamon rolls later, that it’s frustrating there are only so many hours in a day. There are dishes for two and crowd-pleasers for a Jamie-style 20 seater scrubbed wooden table.
This has to be our favourite cookbook this year, unheralded by advance publicity, paid influencers, the usual Ottolenghi approval quotes on the back and other marketing tools, it simply stands up on its own as a Very Good Book.
Vegetarian may be having its fifteen minutes of fame, but this book will last a lot longer in your kitchen.
Published by ever-reliable Octopus Books