Salads + vegetables

Salads + vegetables

By
Rosie Birkett
Contains
9 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742709147
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

I have my mum and dad to thank for my love of salads and all things vegetable.

My dad had a vegetable patch that provided him with much-needed pastoral catharsis – a break from the grind and stresses of news – and his family with a steady stream of fresh fruit and veg. He grew seasonal crops including peas, runner beans, raspberries, plums and tomatoes, and I loved nothing more than keeping him company as he worked, slyly swiping handfuls of berries or peas and playing with the toads that hopped from beneath flower pots.

My mum has always known how to make the best of our home-grown produce and she was never shy with the butter either (go Mum). So during family dinners, my sister and I would get almost as territorial about the mounds of buttery runner beans and glossy spring greens flecked with black pepper as we would about the pork and crackling or crispy roast potatoes.

That my childhood was never mired by a hatred for boggy, mushy sprouts or cabbage has meant that I’ve always embraced vegetables in my everyday cooking, something which I’m thankful for because, aside from being healthy and delicious, these are some of the most economical ingredients out there – particularly if you grow them yourself.

Making vegetables a big part of your diet is a great way to cook with the seasons, which bring with them fleeting treats like asparagus, peas or broad beans that will never taste as good as when they’re at their natural peak. With this in mind, feel free to adapt these recipes to work with what’s abundant. You’ll find combining things that are in season together – like I do in my samphire and Jersey potato recipe – often makes for the best results.

Chefs like Ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have changed the way we view the humble veg by showing us that you can be just as creative and daring with it as any other ingredient – you just need to be clever about the way you treat it. When paired with things like pulses, nuts, seeds, spices and good cheeses, and sometimes just good butter, vegetables can be elevated from an accompaniment to the main event.

But this chapter isn’t just about the veg. You’ll find a luxurious seafood salad made with orzo – that smooth, rice-shaped pasta – and there’s also an octopus salad which I’d really encourage you to try your hand at. Once you’ve had a go at prepping this amazing, eight-armed creature, and mastered the method for cooking it to supple tenderness, you’ll be equipped with the skills to start making your own octopus dishes, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll never look back.

Recipes in this Chapter

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