Chef Matt Wilkinson’s philosophy is to build dishes around the vegetables in season. When vegetables are in season, they are at their least expensive, easy to find, and most flavorful. While this isn’t a vegetarian cookbook, most of the recipes are vegetarian and many are vegan.
The author has chosen his twenty-four favorite vegetables for this book:
- beans and peas,
- brussels sprouts,
- leaves from the garden,
- pumpkin and squash,
Most of these veggies are the usual suspects that can be found in any grocery store. Some, like nettle, are a little less common. “Leaves from the garden” is a fairly large group of veggies, including lettuce, spinach, chard, cress, parsley, chervil, and even edible flowers.
Each vegetable gets its own section with growing and harvesting tips in addition to the ideas for preparation and cooking. Three or four recipes showcase each vegetable. Every recipe is accompanied by a gorgeous photo of the dish. Any techniques that might be unfamiliar to a reader are demonstrated in a series of photos.
With the farmers market season upon us, making the vegetables the star of the table will be easy. Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden is a great help.
Foil-Roasted Big Beets with Ricotta and Mint
Serves 4 as a side
4 beets, washed and trimmed
olive oil, for drizzling
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 generous tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup fresh ricotta, crumbled
1 large pinch of mint leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Cut 2 sheets of foil and lay them across each other to make a cross. Put one beet in the middle, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then wrap up the beet to completely seal. Repeat with the remaining beets. Place on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour. Insert a skewer through a bulb to test to see if they’re cooked.
Once done, carefully transfer onto a serving plate, unwrap, cut an ‘X’ into the tops and push down like a jacket potato. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
Just before serving, drizzle over the vinegar, top with the ricotta and mint and season with a little more salt and pepper. I suggest scooping the beet flesh out without eating the skin.