From the first tender carrots or young broad beans of spring, the sun-ripened tomatoes and courgettes of autumn, to firm winter favourites like Brussels sprouts or celery - the opportunities for rich and varied vegetable-based dishes throughout the year are endless. And as more and more exotic varieties are finding their way to our shops and supermarkets - aubergines, artichokes, salsify, pumpkins - there are always new tastes to discover and new ways of cooking vegetables to learn. Vegetables, both raw and cooked, form an essential part of our diet, providing us with many necessary nutrients, and are our chief source of vitamins. Their rich variety of colour and flavour will enhance the attractiveness of any meal. Yet all too often we ignore this vital area of the art of cooking and are content to serve dull, badly cooked vegetables, usually reduced by too much boiling to a tasteless watery mush, to the detriment of all the other courses.
This book will change all that. It is designed to restore vegetables to their rightful and essential place in the planning of a meal. Indeed, many of the dishes described here can be served as meals in their own right - a whole cabbage stuffed with a delicious savoury filling, a tasty ratatouille, leeks prepared with cheese and ham, delicately-flavoured soufflés, or a hearty, warming stew of beans and bacon. To help even the most inexperienced devise a well-balanced and appetizing menu, advice is given on complementing meat and vegetable dishes - lentil purée with pork, for example, or celeriac with game - and there are plenty of tips on attractive and unusual garnishes.
Used as we are in this country to a dreary regime of boiled vegetables, you may be surprised by how many different ways there are of preparing them: in purées or soufflés, blanched or braised, sautéed or baked in the oven and served with innumerable different sauces. There are clear, helpful instructions to guide you through all these methods, and the easy-to-follow, step-by-step recipes will ensure that your cooking of these new and exciting dishes will turn out a success every time.