When I first posted about my family’s new eating ideas, here, my sister recommended A Modern Way to Eat as a good introduction to tasty, vegetarian cooking. I needed all the help I could get, so dutifully went out and bought it straight away, and I’m so glad I did.
Anna Jones is a protege of my hero Jamie Oliver, and spent many years working with him as his food stylist, writer and creative on books, TV shows and food campaigns. A Modern Way to Eat is her first book, and has since been backed up by her second, A Modern Way to Cook, which I shall be putting on my Christmas gift list (hint, hint).
No wonder, then, that this is a thoughtfully put together book full of healthy, tasty, unfussy recipes. I’ve been absolutely inspired by the beautiful images, and it’s proven a great starting point for a novice vegetarian cook like me.
In between the glorious recipes, the well thought out structure offers pages of helpful hints and advice on adapting for gluten free and vegan diets, seasonal eating, ingredient variations and recipe building. It’s like a How-To of all those things I feel passionate about right now; healthy, delicious, uncomplicated food that is as good for the planet as it is for you.
I’ve cooked quite a few meals so far and found the recipes straightforward and uncomplicated, but with that little extra something adding another dimension of flavour.
I’ve been looking for another variation on a lentil soup recipe, as we eat so much of it during the winter months, so I was delighted to try this Lemony lentil and crispy kale soup. It was a big hit with the whole family who were especially impressed by the delicious crispy kale, and was perfect for this cold weather with lemon and turmeric to ward off colds. I felt cleansed and nourished by the fresh citrus and savoury cumin and mustard flavours, and will definitely be adding it to the weekly menu.
I’m not a huge fan of burgers, and have always been suspicious of vegetarian-masquerading-as-meat recipes, so I decided to put The really hungry burger to the test.
I was dubious about the long list of peculiar ingredients, having always insisted on 100% lean beef. I needn’t have worried. The burgers didn’t taste anything like their meaty counterparts, but were pretty tasty in their own right. Moist and savoury, they felt right at home in a lightly toasted bun with all the trimmings. I really like that you can make them ahead of time, and that they are baked in the oven rather than fried. As well as being healthier, this leaves you free to layer up all the fixings so you can pop them right on top as soon as they come out of the oven. They were pretty good cold as sandwich fillings for school lunches the next day too.
Looking through the abundance of mouth-watering photos, I decided to make a complete meal using several recipes to see how do-able that was. It’s all well and good tackling one recipe at a time, but I wanted to see if this book was worthy of joining the high-rotation club. Was this a book for every day or just special occasions? I decided on Roast squash with chilli, dukkah and lime as the lead, with supporting roles from Sweet and salty tahini crunch greens and A gentle brown rice pilaf with toasted nuts and seeds.
Considering it was the first attempt at all three dishes, and taking into account my careful following of the recipes, it went without a hitch and didn’t take hours. The resulting meal was absolutely delicious. My family were extremely happy with their unexpected week-night feast.
Miss S and I absolutely LOVED the tahini crunch greens. Salty/sweet, nutty and fresh, we almost polished off the whole lot by ourselves. Miss E’s favourite was the punchy, sweet and citrussy flavour of the roast squash. I also loved the subtle, perfumed toasty-ness of the brown rice pilaf, and had the left-overs the next day for lunch. Mr. B just thought he’d died and gone to heaven.
The food in this book is modern, clean and nourishing and the flavours deep, complex and satisfying. We didn’t miss the meat at all; there is just no need for it.
Anna Jones explains how she came to this way of eating, and her approach offers everything I longed for when I first considered changing the way my family eats. It seems that a lot of people are beginning to think the same, and I feel this book is a timely addition to my collection. There’s no extreme rules or sinful ingredients here, just a healthy, balanced approach. This is much more than a cook book; it’s a new way of thinking.
If you’d like to try this book you can buy it here.