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April 12, 2022

Your Daily Veg

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In celebration of Earth Month, The Nest has teamed up with London-based vegetarian Chef and Food Photographer, Joe Woodhouse following the launch of his first vegetarian cookbook, Your Daily Veg. Discover top tips for finding the best seasonal produce in London and more!

Vegetarian dishes

How did the writing of Your Daily Veg come about

It was on the horizon for a while. As writing a cookbook was always something I wanted to do. I love showing different ways to cook and use vegetables to make fun and interesting vegetarian dishes. When I was introduced to my agent we set about forming a proposal. My publishers actually had the idea of the title and grouping the different vegetables into chapters. So the book was devised. I spent the winter evenings writing it. Then come spring of 2020 I cooked, styled and shot each recipe. It was so much fun to do and I’m so happy with the way it has come out.

Whats your favourite meal to cook at home and why

I tend to eat a lot of fresh and vibrant things. As I am out a lot for work and taking pictures in restaurants it can get quite rich quite quickly. So a favourite is a bean salad. So cooked beans, whatever you feel like that day. Then lots of fresh raw veg chopped to a similar size and tossed together with olive oil and lots of vinegar. Think along the lines of carrot, celery, fennel, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, spring onion, fresh herbs, capers, cornichon, lots of black pepper. Otherwise I tend to have a big batch of lentils or pulses that I’ve cooked. Then I heat up a portion and top it in different ways. With cheese or yoghurt. Lots of herbs and salad leaves, croutons. 

Where do you go to for inspiration when creating recipes

Literally anywhere. In everything. I try and take notes or send little reminders. But anything can lead to a different way of cooking something or plating it. I try to spend time in other areas than food for inspiration. Reading and music, things not related to help keep fresh and not too saturated in food. That being said I am constantly thinking about food, what to eat the next five meals or so. So I think that plays a role as well. As it is going through my head and having interactions with other things. Sometimes things collide in a very good way. I also really enjoy reading peoples menus. As well as reading old cookbooks from way back.

How do you think vegetarian cooking has changed in the past few years

I think people are starting to move away from a lot of the 70’s style of veggie food. It is lighter and less stodgy these days I feel. A lot more vegetable dishes are being showcased on menus in restaurants. Which I think in turn is helping drive excitement over seasonal produce. We have access to incredible vegetables in this country. With some brilliant people growing it very well. I mean I still am happy if there is a simple cheese omelette on offer at a pub like when I was growing up. But I think there is a lot more diversity and freedom within vegetarian cooking these days.

Top tips for finding the best seasonal produce in London

Farmers markets. There are so many. Really well organised markets that have incredible produce. Check out London Famers Markets on instagram or online for a healthy list of markets. Also some farms do veg boxes. Which is a great way to support them directly.

Favourite foraged finds

Wild garlic has got to be the king. So  so good and can be pickled or blanched and frozen for later use. I always forage for sloes to make sloe gin each year. Nettles are also super nutrias and go really well in pasta dishes. Sorrel is also a good one to find and so delicious.

5 favourite vegetables and why

Tomatoes - just bursting with every and juice. I love them on toast for breakfast.
Aubergines - the flesh is so fluffy and takes on flavours really well. I love a Japanese style steamed aubergine in dressing.
Bobby beans - I can’t stop eating them. I never feel I eat enough each year! They take to being made into salads or tomato based dishes so well. I love the texture and flavour. All colours are great
Peas - I mean frozen peas are always in season right! And can add a most welcome pop of freshness to rice dishes. Or to be honest I have been known to sit down to a big bowl of peas dressed in olive oil, chilli and lemon juice on its own.
Broccoli - so sweet and can be taken in so many different directions and cuisines. I always try to have at least one head in the fridge at any time. We have broccoli omelette for breakfast a lot.

What are your go-to dishes right now

I’m really looking forward to the fresh green veg of spring. I have a deep passion for Asparagus. I love just buying big bags of peas in their pods. Sitting down and going thorium them. Such a great outside snack. It starts to get bearable to eat outside. So I tend to do lots of warm potato salads. Laced with green. Blanched monks beard, purple sprouting broccoli, baby leeks, nettles, aspargus. It all can get tossed in together in various amounts. A healthy dollop of mayonnaise brings everything together or torn mozzarella or burrata over the top. Chilli flakes and a squeeze of lemon to finish. Or good old spring veg quiches. Great for picnics or packed lunches as well. But I try and eat as much fresh vibrant spring veg simply with ricotta and a piece of toast, good olive oil and salt. So simple you can’t really beat it.

Top tips on how to be environmentally friendly when in the kitchen?

I use small plates are lids to bowls instead of cling film. The stack really well that way also. We also use the bees wax clothes that are reusable and closing well to edges of plates or bowls. My wife also invested in some enamelware rectangular containers. They can be endless washed and they dont take on flavours like plastic does.

Book a table at The Nest this April to enjoy some of the dishes featured in Your Daily Veg by Joe Woodhouse and stop by Backyard to purchase a copy of the cookbook.

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