Book Review: Vegetables, Grains and Other Good Stuff by Simon Bryant

Casting all things vegetarian in a new and favourable light is Simon Bryant’s new cookbook, Vegetables, Grains and Other Good Stuff.

This humble, yet inspiring collection of 100 featured recipes sparks excitement around the vibrancy of vegetables, from the hunter-gatherer experience right down to the preparing of your own crispy shallot chips.

Book Review: Vegetables, Grains and Other Good Stuff by Simon Bryant

Believing that everyone has the right to choose what they wish to eat, whether for religious reasons, ethical ideals or for their health, Simon labels himself as a ‘situational flexitarian,’ knowing what he prefers to eat every day of the week, yet expresses his gratefulness to anyone who goes to the trouble of preparing food for him. This open modesty carries throughout the pages of his book, transcending recipes with straight-forward, honest advice on how to find the right ingredients as they come, fresh and free from numbers and offering achievable techniques with which to cook them at home.

Within the first few page turns, readers are met with a mix of information and a chance to familiarise with the food before it is used in each chapter, from pulses to pseudo-cereals, non-wheat flours and even seaweed.

From then on, chapters are seasonal, helping the reader to grasp the feel and intention of each dish and to keep it synonymous with the likely availability of fresh produce.

Book Review: Vegetables, Grains and Other Good Stuff by Simon Bryant

Chargrilled strawberry and rocket salad with pita, p.88-89.

For a taste of Spring, turn to Green garlic and spinach soup with tarator, a recent addition to Simon’s repertoire and a fantastic spring clean for your insides, or for Summer, try a colourful Chargrilled strawberry and rocket salad with pita, inventive and full of flavour, and teaching how the uglier, end of season harvests can still be used as good as new and nobody will be any the wiser.

Through the pages of his cookbook, Simon expresses his consciousness of environmentally sustainable foods and although he can appreciate culinary trends, he takes the time to address how demand and supply of fresh produce can affect the environment, farmers and other agricultural workers, interposed from one page to the next. Each recipe has a purpose, whether to push flavours to the limit or extend the life of the produce. Share in the celebration for natural ingredients and understand why no apology is ever given for any combination of raw and vibrant flavours – it is food, the way it should be eaten.

Adopting culinary influences that span the world, from Japan to India, the Middle East to Mexico, Simon also follows a philosophy that sourcing the right ingredients is just as important as how you prepare them, so take your time. Flip to the back few pages to make the basics, whether your next meal calls for Romesco sauce or egg yolk mayonnaise and avoid any unknown additives. Even desserts like the decadent Chocolate, cherry and coconut bars provide a treat that has none of the unnecessary nasties and surprisingly, can still be kept up to a month without any preservatives (if not eaten first!) Hint: these make a fantastic dessert number around Christmas time!

Enjoy Simon’s resourcefulness and his passion for fresh produce; pick a season, turn to a new dish and share in the excitement.

Recipes from the book Vegetables, Grains & Other Good Stuff by Simon Bryant, with photography by Alan Benson, published by Lantern, RRP $39.99. Book on sale NOW!

By Julie Johnson.