How to make vegetables the star of a meal

August 15 2013

Chefs need to be more willing to experiment with dishes that make vegetables the focus of the meal, rather than simply an accompaniment to a main meat offering.

This is according to a number of expert chefs, who have spoken to the UK's Independent newspaper about the overlooked potential of vegetables to be the stars of delicious recipes, rather than being relegated to supporting roles all the time.

Simon Rogan of the Cumbria-based restaurant L'Enclume said: "Vegetables are far more interesting and versatile, I believe, and cooking vegetables creatively to be integral to a dish shows far more skill and imagination than turning out meat and two veg."

Producing meals that feature vegetables as their core ingredient - with meat and fish used sparingly - could appeal to Canadian consumers who crave healthier dining options, as vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibres and vital phytochemicals.

Recent research from Technomic showed that the incidence of vegetarian items on restaurant menus jumped by 22 per cent between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013, reflecting growing consumer appetites for dishes of this kind.

The Independent report underlined the fact that this demand can be met without compromising on flavour and variety. Well-sourced squashes, broccoli, mushrooms and cucumber can be cooked and prepared with herbs in various recipes delicious recipes, as can root vegetables such as beetroot, carrot and snow turnips.

British chefs are even finding ways of including vegetables in their dessert recipes - Claude Bosi of the Hibiscus restaurant serves chocolate tarts filled with a fresh pea and coconut confit, plus asparagus tarts and cep and macadamia desserts.

Meanwhile, Bruno Loubet of the Grain Store has experimented with sweet treats such as tomato confit and horseradish ice cream with great success.

Mr Rogan added: "We are always trying new things and pushing the boundaries with what we grow. We like to play with flavour, which creates excitement."