Welcome to (mostly) Meatless Monday – a series of cookbook reviews focussing on books that are “vegetable-forward” (if not completely vegetarian) for those of us who are trying to reduce our meat consumption (or at least, eat meat more consciously).
You may know Ricardo Larrivée as simply Ricardo. You might know of his magazines, his television shows, his line of cookware, his columns or his cookbooks. In fact, earlier this year, he published Vegetables First, his seventh and our selection for (mostly) Meatless Mondays this week!
From the publisher:
Welcome to a celebration of the tastes, textures, colours, and possibilities that vegetables have to offer. These easy-to-follow, triple-tested recipes put vegetables front and centre, and let meat and fish play a supporting role. Discover delicious, bright dishes popping with colour (tomato and ricotta tartlets), full of comfort (squash and roasted vegetable lasagne), and ready to celebrate (Beauty and the Beet cocktail). With each recipe, Ricardo reinvents what vegetables can mean for the modern family, and always stays true to his philosophy: eat together, keep it simple, and make it tasty.
At first glance, this is a super appealing cookbook (apart from the way the title is laid out – not sure why they did that….) and it makes you want to pick it up and leaf through it immediately. The vibrant colours and bold layout catch your eye on the cover and throughout.
Once again (and since it’s “mostly” Meatless Mondays), this is not a completely vegetarian cookbook. Ricardo says: “This isn’t a vegetarian cookbook. It’s about vegetables playing the lead role. You’ll find meat and seafood in these pages and recipes calling for chicken stock or bacon garnish but for a change, animal proteins are really just the supporting players.” Another book that’s perfect for flexitarians so it will have wide appeal.
Interestingly, the recipes are not organised by season, nor courses or themes; or type of vegetables rather the recipes start off simple and move towards the more complex as the book goes on. Throughout the book there are illustrations and double page photo spreads with info to help you plan your veggie-forward meals. You’ll learn what different vegetable cuts look like (essential to following the recipes). You’ll learn that making a salad is simply knowing how to combine certain items – veggies, leaves, a form of protein and a dressing. You’ll learn how to create the most delectable veggie platter. You’ll learn how to properly store your produce in the fridge (or not) and how long it will last. You’ll learn what to do with leftovers (purées, broths and soups for the win!) and so much more.
All of the 120 recipes have full-colour photos which is helpful if you’re working with unfamiliar vegetables and are not sure what the finished dishes are supposed to look like (I am a visual cook and I much prefer books where each recipe has an image to accompany it). And (it sounds really weird to say it but) I love that everything looks so bright and FRESH. It’s perfect for people who have images of drab, limp, over-cooked produce in their heads when they think about vegetables (you know, those overdone green beans of your childhood?). This is a super appealing book in concept and in practical terms it’s the inspiration you need after you return from the farmers’ market with items that looked pretty but which you have no idea how to prepare! The recipes are indexed by vegetable name (which I LOVE and which is especially hands when you have too much of something on hand or after those aforementioned farmers’ market trips and you’re looking to cook something up!) as well as “type of recipe” (different courses like soups, salads, sides, main dishes,condiments & sauces, canapés and appetizers, brunch and drinks & cocktails ).
A stunning book with practical and do-able ideas that will inspire you to indeed, put your vegetables first!
Purchase Vegetables First for yourselves on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store closest to you).
Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this cookbook from the publisher for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions my own.
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