Down to ear h

How to eat away at a glut of veg­eta­bles

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Amy Bryant

WITH ALL MAN­NER of meal-de­liv­ery ser­vices de­posit­ing their card­board boxes and cool bags on doorsteps near his home in New York – their con­tents pre-weighed, chopped and grated, or plated ready for re­heat­ing – the food writer David Ta­nis un­der­stands the ap­peal of a din­ner that can be dished up in min­utes. But, he ar­gues, ‘it’s rather more fun to start at the other end.’

By this he means be­gin­ning with the raw in­gre­di­ents, eye­ing them up at mar­kets, sum­mon­ing the courage to bag them and take them home. ‘A lot of peo­ple don’t know how to cook cer­tain veg­eta­bles,’ he says, ‘es­pe­cially if they look in­tim­i­dat­ing.’ His new book, then, is for them – and for all of us who crave sim­ple treat­ments for bristling green leaves, a hand­ful of mush­rooms, or a cou­ple of

gnarly parsnips. Mar­ket Cook­ing was not in­tended to be en­cy­clo­pe­dic, but Ta­nis tells me it grew nat­u­rally into a source of ad­vice for when ‘you’re stumped about what to do with the turnips you’ve got on your work­top’ (young ones are sweet enough to eat raw, he ad­vises, and larger ones can be boiled and but­tered with­out be­ing ‘cooked to wa­tery smithereens’). ‘Noth­ing I share is earth-shat­ter­ing – but I hoped to il­lus­trate all the var­i­ous things you might want to know about veg­eta­bles.’ Es­pe­cially good for those who re­ceive weekly de­liv­er­ies of sea­son­able veg­eta­bles and can find them­selves drown­ing in a sea of kale or swedes.

Ta­nis was a chef for more than 30 years, no­tably at Chez Panisse in Cal­i­for­nia and Cafe Es­calera in New Mex­ico, and is al­ready the au­thor of three best­selling cook­books. This lat­est has been some years in the mak­ing, and its veg­etable bias re­flects not only how he him­self eats but also the huge surge in veg­e­tar-

ian and ve­gan di­ets in Amer­ica and here. There are sim­ple dishes – leeks vinai­grette, baked beet­root and grilled mush­rooms – that show off their core in­gre­di­ents, but they’re not all speedy and nor should they be. ‘Thirty-minute meals used to be all the rage, and now it’s down to 15,’ Ta­nis says. ‘I think an hour is more re­al­is­tic, then you can en­joy the process.’

Au­tumn draws Ta­nis to­wards pulses and legumes, to potato gratins and rich veg­etable bakes such as the lasagne be­low. ‘De­li­cious food doesn’t have to be com­pli­cated, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have com­plex, sat­is­fy­ing sea­son­ings.’ Home cooks will ap­plaud his lack of lengthy in­gre­di­ents lists and may well find them­selves agree­ing with Ta­nis that ‘the sim­plest foods taste the best’. Mar­ket Cook­ing: Themes and Vari­a­tions, In­gre­di­ent by In­gre­di­ent, by David Ta­nis (Ar­ti­san, £32), is avail­able for £26.99 in­clud­ing p&p from Tele­graph Book­shop (0844-871 1514; books.tele­graph.co.uk)

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