Vegetable Perfection Delivers 100 Delicious Recipes

The 100 enticing recipes and gorgeous photos won me over on my first skim through this cookbook.

VEGETABLE PERFECTION: 100 DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR ROOTS, BULBS, SHOOTS AND STEM
BY MAT FOLLAS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE PAINTER

The 100 enticing recipes and gorgeous photos won me over on my first skim through this cookbook. On the second read though, I used Post-its on the recipes I wanted to try, and realized that I had singled out almost every page. Written by Mat Follas, a Master Chef UK winner, food writer and restaurateur, this cookbook arranges recipes by the types of vegetable. For example: roots; tomatoes, peppers and aubergines; potatoes, squash and corn; fungi; stalks, stems and soft leaves and much more. A few recipes on my must-try list are: cauliflower and truffle pate; red cabbage and burnt aubergine baba ghanoush; beetroot soup with goat’s cheese cream; red-onion tart tatin; roasted butternut squash and four-cheese salad, spaghetti puttanesca; and artichoke frittata. Here’s one for you.

PANZANELLA-STUFFED TOMATOES

PREPARE: 25 MINUTES COOK: 10 MINUTES SERVES: 4
Although a classic Italian dish, the stuffed tomato, to me, is more reminiscent of 1980s dinner parties and raises a smile every time it is served. I’ve made this recipe as a version of an Italian tomato panzanella salad, which I think benefits from a little cooking to release the flavors.

4 large or beef tomatoes
200 g/31/2 cups cubed stale sourdough bread
1 small brown onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 celery sticks, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cucumber, peeled, quartered and cut into small triangles
a small bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
50 g/2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil, for frying
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
mixed salad leaves, to serve (optional)

Slice a thin piece from the base of the tomatoes so they sit upright unaided. Slice about 1.5 cm/5/8 inch from the top of the tomatoes, discard these slices or reserve to bake as a cook’s treat. Carefully scoop out the tomato seeds and flesh and put in a bowl. Crush the seeds and flesh with the back of a fork to a coarse pulp.

Cover the base of a frying pan/skillet with olive oil and set over a medium heat. Once the oil sizzles when a cube of bread is dropped into the pan, add the rest of the bread and fry for 2–3 minutes, carefully tossing the bread cubes repeatedly to coat with oil and crisp up. Reduce the heat, then add the onion wedges, celery and crushed garlic and reduce the heat to cook over a low heat, tossing occasionally till the onions and celery have become translucent.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

When ready to serve (no sooner or the bread will go soggy), mix the cooked ingredients with the tomato pulp, cucumber and basil. Season with a generous pinch of salt and the balsamic vinegar.

Stuff the tomatoes with the mixture and arrange on a baking sheet. Lightly cover with grated Parmesan and a little black pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes and serve immediately as an appetizer or with mixed salad leaves for a main meal.

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Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas; photography by Steve Painter
Ryland Peters & Small, $24.95.
Photo credit: Photography by Steve Painter

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