The health food blogger is back with her third book and it’s jam packed with seasonal eating ideas, plus refreshingly light on the courgetti et cetera. Here’s what we made of it…
Okay, so a spiralizer is still in the equipment requirements list of A Year of Beautiful Eating , but Madeleine’s Shaw ’s latest recipe book is more a celebration of slow release starches, high quality meat and fresh produce than a tome on carb avoidance and general food group dodging, as some may assume given this year’s Clean Eating backlash . Here’s what to take from it:
1. There are potatoes
And your average household spud too, not just its sweeter orange Instagram star of a sister. Alongside the humble tattie you’ll find legit rice pudding, beef kebabs and easy, balanced, throw together tray bakes that, while admittedly light on the gluten, are genuinely delicious and don’t involve sourcing expensive unicorn juice or hemorrhaging your wages in Wholefoods. Which brings us to…
2. Forget “beautiful”, it’s good for your budget
While your skin may no doubt glow after tucking into beta carotene rich vegetables and the like, what is concretely unarguable is that if you do cook and shop as Shaw advises throughout the year, you’re likely to save money while keeping meals wholesome. Want to eat high quality meat? Buy it less often and choose cheaper cuts of higher welfare meat as Shaw advises. Ditto fish- buying less well known but equally nutritious varieties could save both your wallet, and the world if you’re feeling philosophical, as overfishing continues to damage our natural resources. Heavy but true. On a happier note, bulk batch cooking ensures you’ll always have something for lunch rather seeing your bank balance dwindle in the wake of Pret runs. Plus, the seasonal aspect is very often economically sound too, given that a surge of summer fruit is likely to result in lower prices when we shop. Speaking of dining according to Mother Nature’s calendar…
3. There’s heaps to eat
Aside from the 100+ recipes in the book, Shaw includes a table of what’s in season when, in case you fear that mid Jan could prove a bit barren (get psyched for parsnip fries). Given that a poll of 2000 Brits by the BBC revealed that 86 per cent of us consider eating seasonally important, yet only 5% can identify when blackberries are at their best, a large list of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and shellfish that are rocking it at different times of the year could prove a wise companion to the weekly shop. You’ll be supporting British farmers all the more, likely getting a good deal on what’s in your basket and savouring stuff that simply tastes better. Think juicy peaches come summertime, warm-your-cockles celeriac mash during the winter months and tart rhubarb at springtime. When it’s right, it’s right.
4. Time is on your side
As above with the batch-cooking encouragement, many of Shaw’s meal ideas are hearty and uncomplicated, but also take into account the fact that you may have kids, a highly stressful job, fussy eaters, flatmates and other halves to consider. As such, recipes that take 15 minutes or 30 minutes are labelled, and even the slower-cooking options require relatively little complicated prep. There’s toast for all the seasons (making toast imaginative is no mean feat), ideas for funking up side salads that could otherwise be wilting and a bit sad and multiple takes on go-to winter morning porridge. Sure, there’s a tiny bit of kale massage going on, but the likes of pan-fried steak and coconut spiced prawn korma (15 minutes people) take centre stage.
5. There are more recipes than rules
If you happen to eat a gluten or dairy-free diet, most of these recipes will work for you, but there’s no preachiness around avoiding food, more a championing of what’s out there at different times of the year and what you can rustle up with it. Take some of the nutritional sidelines with a small pinch of (organic/ pink/ Himalayan) salt and dig in. Focus on the flavour combinations rather than putting the single ingredients on a pedestal and you’re set for a year of inventive recipes. Whether you’ll glow or not, we don’t know, but you’ll be too busy chowing down on mezze to mind whether food is solving all your problems.
A Year of Beautiful Eating by Madeleine Shaw (published by Trapeze), £20 in hardback and £10.99 as an ebook, available from 20th April- pre-order here