'The Vegetable: Recipes That Celebrate Nature'

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Caroline Griffiths and Vicki Valsamis are the talented, Australia-based duo behind The Vegetable, a cookbook that aims to make vegetables, whether in small dishes or large, the hero at mealtimes.

"Vegetables, in all their different forms, too often play second fiddle in a meal," the authors lament in the book's introduction. "They're used as an adjunct or a side, something to complement the 'main attraction' on your plate. We're here to change your mindset and bring vegetables to the fore. Vegetables present to us a staggering array of tastes, textures and culinary opportunities; there's absolutely no reason that good-quality produce shouldn't steal the show."

In The Vegetable, Valsamis (one of the most sought-after food stylists and recipe developers in Australia) and Griffiths (a food expert with over 25 years of industry experience as a writer, stylist, home economist, and cook) present a wonderful collection of 130 plant-based dishes.

Beautiful photographs bring to life mouth-watering recipes (full of fresh and exciting flavors) that will inspire readers to make vegetables the main event. From Flower, Shoots & Stems, through Leaves & Leafy Greens, from Fruiting Vegetables all the way to Tubers & Bulbs and Fungi, the chapters in this cookbook will rekindle anyone's love for vegetables. Faithful vegetable consumers and picky eaters alike will find recipes to delight in and devour all the while, celebrating the vegetable.

Recipes featured in The Vegetable include:

— Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

— Green Bean Salad With Grilled Haloumi & Rum-Soaked Figs

— Red Pepper Rouilled on Kipflers With Toasted Walnuts

— Deep-Fried Pumpkin Crisps With Honey-Spiced Macadamias

— Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Freekeh Salad

— Onion Bhajis

To purchase The Vegetable, click here.

The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of cooking (and/or eating)?

Caroline Griffiths: I believe in fresh, seasonal, whole foods, locally and ethically sourced where possible, most often simply prepared. Everyday food, of which the vegetable is (or ought to be) the hero, should be healthy food and a joy to eat.

Vicki Valsamis: Without a doubt, fresh and seasonal. I love the ability to draw on inspiring dishes relevant to the seasons we are in.

How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?

CG: The preparation of fresh vegetables in particular need not be complex. It is often the simplest of techniques — for example, poaching asparagus with butter and a small amount of water — that really help it to shine.

What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?

CG: This is like being asked to pick my favorite child! I do love the classic leek and potato soup on page 276 — there are only six ingredients in the recipe, and two of these are olive oil and butter. The recipe represents to me nostalgia and comfort, with a modern twist all wrapped up in a recipe that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or so.

VV: I love the spaghetti squash patties with sriracha mayo. The unsuspecting texture of spaghetti squash is a delight in any instance, but deep-fried it is just fantastic — crunchy on the outer, soft on the inside, nutty in flavor — and packs a great much when paired with the sriracha.

What are some of the foods you can't live without?

CG: Broccoli, zucchini, lemons or limes, fresh Australian olive oil, garlic, and Thai fish sauce. Oh, and don't forget the dark chocolate!

VV: Avocado — I love it on its own, on toast, in smoothies, and I also purée it in dressings. Tomatoes and cucumbers — daily staples for me having grown up in a Greek household. Good-quality dark chocolate, yogurt, and salmon.

Would you rather dine out or cook at home?

CG: I do enjoy cooking at home, especially when my young boys lend a helping hand; however, dining out is a real treat and an opportunity to enjoy meals I wouldn't cook at home.

VV: Generally speaking, if you offer me dining out I won't say no! I think it comes with the territory of being in the kitchen all day for work... Although I love it and it's my absolute passion, I'll never say no to someone else cooking for me or being waited on! It's a luxury.

What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?

CG: This is tricky. Often I crave nothing more than an abundant bowl of steamed broccoli with olive oil and lemon with a fillet of seared salmon. I do love a tall G&T with a generous squeeze of lime juice at the end of a busy week.

VV: Drink: Iced and unsweetened Lady Grey tea.

Meal: Classic Greek salad with feta, pickled caper vines, and dried wholemeal rusks topped with a tin of tuna.


How do you hope readers will use this book, what do you hope they take away?

CG: I hope this book is one that can be dipped into often for fresh ideas. There are large and small dishes that can be easily matched to make up a larger meal. I would really love readers to be inspired to try vegetables they haven't tried before or discover a new and perhaps surprising way of preparation for one of their favorite vegetables.

VV: I hope readers use this book to become inspired not only to cook with more vegetables but to also cook with in-season vegetables. Seasonal eating is a fabulous way to increase vegetables in your diet whilst garnering all the vitamins and minerals as nature intended!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
CG: I believe enjoying a variety of delicious vegetables every day is the key to good health. Supporting local producers at the farmers market and your local greengrocer is a great way to contribute to a sustainable future for our planet.