Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall wants us all to eat more vegetables. “Who the heck is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?” you might be thinking, after reading that sentence.
The answer: he is a British celebrity chef and, according to Wikipedia, a “‘real food’ campaigner”. His latest cook book, River Cottage Veg Every Day!, is packed full with recipes which illustrate his ‘real food’ principles.
That phrase amuses me. Sure, I know what it means but it just sounds funny. ‘Real food’, as opposed to what? Fake food?
Anyways, getting back on topic: Fearnley-Whittingstall is not trying to preach or to convert everyone to vegetarianism but he believes that “We need to eat more vegetables and less flesh, because vegetables are the foods that do us the most good, and our planet the least harm” (from the Foreword to River Cottage Every Day, text 2011 copyright Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall).
I was given a copy of River Cottage Veg Every Day for Christmas and it is a great book with about 400 pages of delicious recipes. Fearnley-Whittingstall’s style is simple: no fancy recipes which take hours to prepare, no expensive and exotic ingredients which only city-dwellers can find in specialty food shops…
The recipes are all vegetarian but almost all of them can be side dishes to meat or fish. There is also plenty of scope to create entirely vegetarian meals. I like the way River Cottage Veg Every Day is presented: there are several different chapters which range from “Comfort food & feasts” to “Hefty soups” and “Mezze & tapas”. The photography is wonderful. Every page has a color photo of the end results of each recipe.
The following recipe is from the Store-cupboard Suppers chapter of River Cottage Veg Every Day!:
Tomato, thyme and goat’s cheese tart
Serves 4 – 6
A little sunflower oil
½ teaspoon fine cornmeal or polenta (optional)
375g all-butter, ready-made puff pastry
Beaten egg, for brushing
About 350g tomatoes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
A little extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil
100g rinded goat’s cheese
A handful of thyme sprigs, leaves only
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a baking sheet and scatter over a little fine cornmeal or polenta, if you have some – this helps to keep the pastry really crisp.
Roll out the pastry fairly thinly and trim to a rectangle about 30 x 25cm. Put it on the baking sheet. Cut a 1cm strip from each edge. Brush these strips with a little beaten egg, then stick on to the edges of the rectangle, to form a slightly raised border. Brush the edges with a little more egg.
Thinly slice the tomatoes across into 2 – 3mm slices; discard the stalky top and skinny bottom slices. Scatter the garlic over the pastry, then arrange the sliced tomatoes on top, overlapping them only slightly. Season with salt and pepper and trickle with a little oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and lightly browned.
Take the tart out of the oven, scatter over the cheese and thyme, add another twist of pepper and a trickle of oil, and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and bubbly and the pastry golden brown. You can serve this hot, but I think it’s better half an hour or so after it comes out of the oven, with a green salad.
Recipe text © 2011 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. No copyright infringement intended.
This is a fantastic cook book with a lot of simple, delicious and nutritious recipes. If I had to summarize it in one word: Yummy!