Check it out: Learn to veg out at 'River Cottage'

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Review

“River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes”

By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; Ten Speed Press, 415 pages

When you think of vegetables, what comes to mind? A cafeteria-style medley of peas and carrots? Leafy green stuff that you were forced to eat as a kid, and now eat as an adult because your doctor says it's good for you? Or, maybe you're the opposite (like me) — not a vegetarian but bordering on being labeled a veggie-holic? No matter your experience with, and/or stance on food that comes from the garden, this week's book, "River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes," serves up some mighty fine veggie recipes — for all palates.

Educating people about sustainably produced food is one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's passions. In 1998 he began hosting a British television series from the River Cottage Farm in Dorset England. The series was all about food, and since that first series aired, several more River Cottage food programs have been produced for British television.

The farm itself has turned into a small-scale culinary industry with its accredited Chefs' School for professional cooks, the Cookery School which holds courses for amateur cooks, and a selection of Canteens — public eating establishments — located throughout the British locale. Whether a person is an aspiring chef, or a home cook looking to expand his or her cooking repertoire, River Cottage's philosophy is to instill an appreciation for local, sustainable food practices. More information about River Cottage can be found at http://www.rivercottage.net.

Now, back to this week's title. Like any well-organized cookbook, "River Cottage Veg" is divided into categories: Comfort Food & Feasts; Hearty Salads; Raw Assemblies; Hefty Soups; Bready Things; Pantry Suppers; Pasta & Rice; Meze & Tapas; Roast, Grill & Broil; and Side Dishes. Here's a nice feature: while all of the recipes are vegetarian, some of the recipes are marked with a special symbol to indicate that they are also suitable for vegans.

Want to create a completely meatless dinner one evening? Why not start out with an arugula, fennel and green lentil salad; then, for an entree, fix leek risotto with chestnuts, served alongside River Cottage garlicky flat bread. Yum! Not ready for that many veggies in one sitting? Don't worry. You can still have your steak, but instead of pairing it up with the standard baked potato and mixed vegetable jumble, partner that grilled meat with a lovely macaroni pea side dish, or substitute the baked spud with spicy merguez oven fries with yogurt dip. Double yum!

If you're ready to add more greens (and reds, yellows, oranges and purples) to your diet, consider checking out "River Cottage Veg." From simple preparations — grilled asparagus spears with lemon dressing — to more exotic affair – cauliflower pakors with tamarind raita — all levels of veggie adventurousness will be satisfied with this cookbook. Learn how to "veg out" in the best possible way.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.