Spring is a natural time to start thinking about vegetables, but if Matt Wilkinson had his way, everyone would be thinking about them all year-round. Wilkinson is a chef based in Melbourne, Australia, and the author of the fittingly titled cookbook Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables (Black Dog & Levanthal, $28), released in March. Wilkinson is the co-owner of the popular Melbourne restaurant Pope Joan and the nearby bar Bishop of Ostia, and has a true passion for vegetables and for gardening.
Eighty beautifully photographed recipes showcase 24 different vegetables — everything from asparagus to zucchini to take you through all four seasons. Wilkinson's attitude toward vegetables echoes that of Michael Pollan's — namely, that they should not be just a side or an afterthought, but the main star of the dishes we cook and eat. Says Wilkinson in the introduction to the book, "Today a lot of people think about what protein they feel like eating — will it be beef or chicken, fish, or pork? Then what starch will be added to bulk out the meal and, as a final touch, throw in a few vegetables. This is where I'm a little different with my veg first approach."
If you'd like to try Mr. Wilkinson's approach to cooking, which really, is just a return to the old ways of cooking — seasonably, sensibly, and locally — then we suggest you try some of the recipes below from his book.
A classic Italian dip inspired by Mr. Wilkinson's travels.
This light, airy omelette featuring two of spring's most highly anticipated and coveted leafy greens was on the menu at one of Wilkinson's restaurants, Pope Joan.
Rather than lament the passing of asparagus at the end of the season, pickle some while the time is right and have some for later.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.