Today sees the publication of my new book. It’s called Much More Veg, and it does exactly what it says on the tin, offering nearly 200 new recipes, all designed to make vegetables and other fantastically healthy plant foods as delicious and delectable as possible – so that we eat more of them!
The book follows on from River Cottage Veg Everyday, published back in 2011, but it goes much further, exploring the wonderful, vibrant world of veg to the absolute max. I wanted Much More Veg to be a book for everyone, no matter your dietary style. So in it you’ll find no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products, no bread, pasta or noodles. It’s vegan friendly and many of the recipes are also suitable for people who don’t eat gluten.
I’ve said in the past - only slightly tongue-in-cheek - that I wanted to change people’s lives by getting them to eat more vegetables. I feel that more strongly than ever – I think it really can change our lives, and it could change the planet too.
We all know we’re supposed to eat our greens because they’re good for us. But there’s much more to it than that. There are compelling reasons why a plant-based diet isn’t just an ideal worth aiming for – it’s starting to look absolutely essential.
For a start, there’s the simple fact that the more health-boosting veg we consume, the less space there is in our diets for the foods that don’t do us any good at all.
More veg means less sugar and refined carbs, for instance – things which are now widely recognized as leading causes of obesity and ill-health. More veg also means less meat. And the consequences of that, for the entire planet, could be colossal. Not only does meat production swallow up great quantities of crops, power, fuel and water, but the intensive farming of animals is a key factor in climate change because it release huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
But I haven’t been eating more veg in a spirit of sombre worthiness, just because it’s The Right Thing to Do. I’ve been loading up my plate with greens (and reds, oranges, purples and yellows) because they are delicious and life-enhancing in every way!! Veg is glorious: colourful, vibrant, full of flavour and texture. I can honestly say it has allowed me to have more fun in the kitchen than ever before.
Much More Veg begins with two chapters rammed with the kind of hearty, tummy-filling main meal veg dishes that ensure you won’t miss the meat. These include a roasted fennel, new potato and tomato stew, studded with olives and fragrant with harissa, a gorgeous green pea ‘speltotto’ topped with toasted hazelnuts and lemon, and a beautifully rich aubergine and tomato gratin. There are pages of gently spiced curries, vegetable chillies and fragrant broths, featuring everything from purple sprouting broccoli to spinach, squash and swede, and a whole chapter on different ways to produce a meal by simply slamming a big tray of veg in the oven to roast – one of my favourite mid-week methods! I’m not just talking about the familiar roast spuds and roots here - you’ll find roast peas and parsley with fennel and lemon, roasted turnips with dates and watercress and even a roasted Greek salad.
The book includes soups, hearty salads and super-healthy raw assemblies too – and I even share a few ways in which you can eat veg for breakfast, including my lovely raw carrot and apricot breakfast bars. Much More Veg will, I hope, make it easy and pleasurable for anyone to put vegetables at the very heart of their kitchen, as I have. The plant kingdom offers such variety: if we include fruits, herbs, seeds, nuts, grains and even spices in the ‘veg’ bracket – which I very much do - we have a huge palette of ingredients to choose from. Cooking with this leafy, rooty, juicy, crunchy, colourful bounty has given me huge inspiration and satisfaction. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.