Every now and again a cookbook comes along that’s so visually stunning that my mouth starts watering as soon as I turn the first page. Eat Your Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson is one of those beauties.
The author isn’t another celebrity chef, but he does have a pedigree. Potts Dawson was trained by the Roux Brothers, Rowley Leigh and Pierre Koffmann, and he went on to become head chef at The River Cafe, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, River Cottage HQ etc. He’s also founded two restaurants of his own and is working on opening a third.
As you might expect, the cookbook is rather chef-y and the photography and layout are highly appealing. It’s divided into sections by type of vegetable rather than by course, so it’s handy for times when there’s a glut in your garden or the shops and you become desperate to add some variety to your usual repertoire. Some of the flavour combinations are very clever and unusual, so the book is a great source of culinary inspiration.
A focus on fresh, healthy food
The idea behind the collection of recipes is to ‘put vegetables at the centre of the plate’, mainly for the sake of being healthy. However, it is not strictly a vegetarian cookbook, even though most of the recipes are indeed suitable for vegetarians, and some are also vegan-friendly. A proportion of the dishes contain meat or fish, or include notes about how these could be added if so wished, so there’s something to suit most tastes.
In addition to the 250+ main recipes that cover over 50 vegetables, there are also sections for storecupboard items (a frighteningly well stocked cupboard, it must be said), collections of recipes for suggested feasts, a list of ‘basic’ recipes including apple jam and sauce soubise (as in ‘basic for a professional chef’), and ‘skills’ sections including a really good introduction to the art of pickling.
If I was going to complain about anything, I’d say that some of the steps in the recipes might be a bit too condensed for the novice cook. For example, some of the three-step recipes might be better off written up as five-step recipes to make the text clearer and more easy to understand. Medium level and very experienced cooks would be unlikely to find that a problem though, to be fair.
To sum up: a seriously good looking cookbook from a chef who knows his onions. This would make an ideal gift for a foodie friend or family member who wants to eat more healthily, or a treat for a grow-your-own enthusiast who’s ready for some fresh new ideas and has a reasonable level of competence in the kitchen.
Eat Your Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson is published by Mitchell Beazley, and the hardback is currently on offer at Amazon for £16.75, including free delivery.