I am part of a vegetarian family: my husband has been a vegetarian for over twenty years, I joined along almost 12 years ago, and my daughter was born into it 8 years since. When my daughter was born, I wondered what vegetarianism would look like for her? When I became a vegetarian, the cookbooks at the time were very faddy and, what I really longed for was good food: plain and simple. Sometimes I feel that calling food “vegetarian” is like adding a caveat: it is wonderful food considering it is vegetarian. In my mind, we should be focusing on whether food is delicious. In Joe Woodhouse‘s new cookbook, Your Daily Veg, he has a similar philosophy on meatless cookery. In the introduction he tells us that he believes vegetarian cooking is about, “Recipes that really satisfy, built from good quality ingredients that are allowed to speak for themselves.”(6) No matter the cookbook genre, isn’t that what we all want? Delicious food that satisfies?
After cooking from Your Daily Veg, I can tell you that the recipes are delicious and satisfying. Woodhouse takes care to focus on and celebrate seasonal produce in ways that are ingredient-driven rather than being based on technique. His recipes are organized into 9 chapters with each chapter focusing on a specific, main ingredient: 1) Potatoes, Carrots & Beetroot, 2) Squash & Pumpkin, 3) Cauliflower, Broccoli & Other Greens, 4) Onions & Leeks, 5) Aubergine & Peppers, 6) Tomatoes, 7) Sweetcorn, and 8) Mushrooms. Sourcing ingredients is as simple as visiting my local supermarket or farmer’s market, and I found that I could rely on my pantry staples for the rest. And I learned that I could choose from the variety of recipes to suit any meal — quick and easy dishes for lunch, uncomplicated meals for weeknight cooking, and food that is great on weekends or for gatherings.
It is with this review that I am reminded why it’s crucial to actually cook from the books I review, because then how could I tell you that one of the best staples to hit your kitchen is the onion sauce from page 103? The sauce is part of a bigger recipe (Flatbread w/ Potatoes & Onion Sauce), and it’s made by cooking onions slowly in butter, over low heat. While the resulting sauce becomes the base for sliced potato, I think you could use it in so many other recipes! It would add flavour to soups and sauces, as well as being a smashing condiment for sandwiches (really, sky’s the limit here). Since I had a mix of yellow and red onions, my sauce came out a bit rosy-coloured, but it still had a sweet, deep onion flavour.
A recipe that I had never made or eaten before was for Potato Farls. An Irish recipe that uses mashed potatoes, butter, flour, and baking soda to make patties that are cooked in a skillet. Woodhouse also adds finely sliced spring onion to his recipe, which tastes great with the potato. I served the Farls with his Carrot & Red Lentil Soup — a hearty pairing that was perfect for the chilly spring days we’ve been experiencing in Halifax. He also suggests serving them with breakfast — I think it’s a versatile recipe that can be enjoyed as part of any meal or even as an afternoon snack!
There are two camps of people with opinions on my daughter’s vegetarianism — those who are aghast that a person could exist without bacon and, then there are those who are surprised that a child could love all vegetables (even the “gross” ones). My answer to both is the same — she doesn’t know any different. She doesn’t miss meat because she’s never had it and, she loves vegetables because we love vegetables. So, it is unsurprising that her favourite meal from Your Daily Veg, the one she called, “A++++, 10/10,” is the Pumpkin Gnocchi w/ Spinach Sauce. The gnocchi are made with roasted pureed squash and the sauce is made from butter and spinach. The sauce is bright, vegetal, and buttery and the gnocchi is pillowy and sweet, with a hint of nutmeg.
Another favourite from the book is the Mushroom & Chard Stroganoff, which is a saucy mix of fried mushrooms and rainbow chard served on rice (my daughter requested noodles instead of rice). I love the sauce (white wine, lemon juice, crème fraiche)! The whole meal was so satisfying and delicious — a recipe that will slide into our weekly meal rotation. It’s with this recipe that Woodhouse shares his feelings of nostalgia for the dish — something that harkens back to his childhood. I appreciate that he’s written a book full of delicious and satisfying recipes that is personal to him. Woodhouse has shared recipes that he eats and loves, and not just for the sake of filling a book with food.
Your Daily Veg showcases Joe Woodhouse’s delicious recipes as well as his stunning photography! With over a half-dozen recipes that my family enjoyed; I’ve got many more recipes bookmarked to try. It’s a wonderful cookbook (that just happens to be vegetarian) that will appeal to those who enjoy delicious food.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Canadian Manda Group and Kyle Books for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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