Vegetables can be just as exciting as meat
British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says vegetables shouldn't get second billing to meat and fish and plays up their versatility, flavours and health benefits in his book, River Cottage Veg.
The 48-year-old has just put out the American edition of the British best-selling cookbook, which is full of vegetarian and vegan recipes for salads, soups and entrees that he promises will satisfy any meat-eater's palate.
The celebrity chef spoke about his passion for vegetables and the secret of how to make children eat more vegetables
Why did you write this book?
As a young chef, I was more gung-ho about meat and wrote very passionately about it. If we eat a little less of it, then we can concentrate on its quality and make sure we don't waste any of it. It's a very precious food.
One of the ways we value eating meat is by eating more vegetables.
Then, we will have a daily cooking vernacular that makes meat and fish extra special when we wheel them out. Of course, many of these (vegetable) dishes go great as a serving besides meat. But they don't have to be the also-rans. They could have equal billing. They could have top or sole billing.
Why should people eat more vegetables?
We know it's good for our health. It's not only good for us, but also for the planet. We just have to make vegetables delicious. We can't wag our fingers and stand on our soap box. We have to make them lovely to eat.
Eating good fish, eating good meat, that's great, but we have to get people as, if not more, excited about vegetables. They should underpin all our cooking.
What are your tips for making vegetables more exciting?
Just put the meat and fish on one side and concentrate on maximising what you get from vegetables... Then, do things like grilling, barbecuing and caramelising them to get the flavours going, to get the contrast going.
We do these things as second nature when we cook meat and fish. It should be something we should be doing for vegetables too.
Any advice on how to feed children more vegetables?
The tip is a little bit of garlic. It's like catnip for kids. Maybe a little bit of butter. Maybe a dash of olive oil. It works for carrots, peas and beans.
It gives that savoury edge that everyone loves and works with the natural sweetness of the greens.
The thing we do with meat is that we spice it a lot. We use herbs. We want to aromatise it. We want to make it sophisticated. We could do all that with vegetables too.