Welcome to the first book of the summer season of our cookbook club! Our first book is the most recent edition from the UK’s Nigel Slater, Greenfeast: Spring, Summer. Our theme this season is Summer Vegetables – perfect for a time when local farmers’ markets are thriving, and maybe even your home garden.
I’m feeling inspired. And with an international lineup of vegetable-focused books to work our way through, I’m betting you will be too!
Our first book, Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, was originally published in Great Britain in 2019. The North American “translation” was just released last month. I’m working from the UK version, everyone else has the new US edition. Does that make a difference? Read on to find out…
In addition to 27 years at the British newspaper The Observer, Nigel Slater has also crafted 18 food books including cookbooks, a memoir, and several diaries. He doesn’t limit himself to the written word either. He’s done several series for BBC and in 2018, his memoir, Taste was adapted for a stage production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Nigel Slater isn’t just a prolific food writer, he’s an avid (obsessive?) chronicler of his daily eating. The two editions of Greenfeast (Spring, Summerand Autumn, Winter) are the product of his more recent leaning toward a more plant-based diet. In fact, both books are vegetarian (not vegan – too much yogurt for that).
about the book
Greenfeast: Spring, Summer is a collection of mostly simple recipes meant for inspiration, not as hard-and-fast rules for preparing each dish. It’s a great transition book after spending the last couple weeks of our spring cookbook club living by the No-Recipe Recipe Book. The most difficult thing about this collection for me was choosing what to make. Slater’s style is so much like my own, yet the flavor combinations were often new to me and inspiring.
The recipes are collected into unusual categories that represent either the vessel the dish might be served in, or the one it may be prepared in – In a Bowl, In a Pan, In the Hand… Slater has a thing for bowls. He collects them and he has a thing for foods eaten from them. Perfect – so do I! This book was written for me!
Photography is simple and appealing and shows off the bowl collection beautifully. Slater’s years of sabbaticals in Japan show in the overall aesthetic. The presentation is further enhanced with artist Tom Kemp’s serene square-edged brushstrokes that sweep the eye from page to page. Learn more about his work HERE.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a UK edition from 2019 written for Slater’s home audience. And now there’s a newly released US edition that was revised for a market that doesn’t use the metric system and doesn’t know what an aubergine is (my autocorrect in Word doesn’t even know).
As far as I can tell, the differences are mostly the metric-to-imperial quantities, the oven instructions, the names of some critical ingredients (including the spelling of the word yoghurt to the American yogurt). The order and page numbers stay the same. The color of the cover is quite different (better for the US market) – hot pink and gold are not colors for a book called Greenfeast. It should be (and is now) green.
the cooking part…
As I said before, I had a hard time choosing. I passed that on to the club members with my zealot’s menu choices. I made up for it by adding a new twist to my offering to the group. I added a beverage pairing for each recipe to appeal to all (i.e.: not all wine and booze).
Lunch Mushroom, Peas, Toast Tomatoes, Peas, Feta Burrata, Broccoli, Lentils Melon, Peppers, Cucumbers Freekah, Peaches, Feta Bulghur, Nectarines, Parsley Dinner choose 2-3 dishes and serve them family-style Eggplant, Honey, Sheep’s Cheese Pasta, Tomatoes Summer Squash, Tomato, Couscous Baked Ricotta, Asparagus Green Falafel, Watermelon, Yogurt Tomatoes, Couscous, Harissa Asparagus, Miso, Mustard Peas, Pappardelle, Parmesan New Potatoes, Garlic, Peppers Pudding (dessert) Currants, Gin, Bread Meringue, Apricot, Black Currant Watermelon, Prosecco
Nigel Slater eats the same thing for breakfast every day. Yogurt with fruit and oats. That’s the only recipe in the breakfast section. But if you read the opening essay for the section, you’ll discover several delicious options described in a way that you might easily reproduce (especially if you like No-Recipes). I made the ricotta pancakes with fresh berries that were light as clouds and soul-satisfying on a late Sunday morning.
mushrooms, peas, toast
This one’s a favorite. So very simple, yet so very satisfying. I made a bunch of the pea puree and sauteed mushrooms, then made this toast for lunch several times in the week and breakfast once.
freekeh, peaches, feta
It’s not even peach season here yet and I still fell in love with this sweet, salty, nutty, herbaceous salad. This is now a summer staple in my world. And for any of you who loved that baked feta pasta that made Tic-Tok popular with the old people, the technique will feel very familiar.
eggplant/aubergine, honey, sheep’s cheese
A Spanish tapa so addictive and so easy it might turn you on to eggplant. Splurge on good honey, and good cheese. Have it with a simple salad with sherry vinaigrette and a glass of oloroso or amontillado sherry. Pretend you’re in Spain.
baked ricotta, asparagus
The only dish that we didn’t all agree on. For some it was stodgy, for some it was bland, for a couple it was both. I chose not to follow the directions and made it like a souffle. I loved it. I recommend you do the same if you try this. Just separate the eggs. Whip the whites and fold in before baking. And season the base before adding the raw eggs so you can taste to make sure it’s flavorful. Easy fix.
peas, pappardelle, Parmesan
I even made my own fresh pappardelle for this. You should too. Frozen peas work in a pinch, but if you have them coming from your garden (or a very local farm), this is a great way to show them off. Another crowd favorite.
The watermelon, prosecco is an easy summer granita that I’ll be making prosecco floats with for summer brunches. But summer berry pudding is a long-time personal favorite. I had it on the menu in my restaurant a million years ago. Slater’s “currants, gin, bread” is a spin on the same. Sloe gin adds a bit of character. I didn’t have currants and used a mix of last season’s blackberries and raspberries frozen for such an occasion. Do what Slater recommends, enjoy it for dessert with whipped cream and then for breakfast with your yogurt!
Have you cooked from any of Nigel Slater’s books? I’d love to hear what your favorites were and what you thought. Leave me a comment below!
In closing, as always, I want to thank Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore and the 92nd Street Y in NYC. Their beloved live program, Talks & Tastes, went virtual and we’ve all reaped the benefits of this twist of fate. If you missed this season’s club registration, stay tuned, we’ll return in the fall with four exciting new books!
You can catch up with my previous post HERE.