BOOK REVIEW: “Tender” by Nigel Slater

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I loved this journey. A man and his vegetable patch makes you want to run out and start your own. Of course as you read you realize it takes quite a bit to start, build and maintain a garden. I really loved Slaters writing style. It’s direct, honest and natural.

The beginning of the book takes you through the process in which Slater begins his patch. You can just see and feel the partly sunny London afternoons. Taking us through picking the site, seed, soil, tools, bugs and the bounty. The vegetables are the true stars in this book, as they are featured individually, focusing on all aspects of the plant.

The detail in which Slater submerges us in his veggies is mystical. I felt so obviously silly after reading about “the carrot” and the simplicity of its flavor. I had been smothering and slathering all sorts of things on this orange prong of joy. What I should have done is leave it alone. Or add very little. For example on the chapter dealing with said carrot, Slater delivers to us an excerpt of his diary, all the varieties of carrots and what to season your carrots with. Evidently its flavors work best with flavors from its own family. Caraway, cumin, chervil, parsley, cilantro or dill work best. In addition mustard seeds give a nice spiciness to the earthiness. Citrus does a remarkable job in quelling the sweetness from different varietals.

I now use this book at least once a week as a reference when working with vegetables. I can attest as I have gained inspiration from this book in using its suggested flavorings on many recipes. It has literally changed the way I think about vegetables. i suggest you run out and get a copy. Or hit up amazon.com.

here is a recipe from his book:

Nigel Slater's asparagus with lemon and tomato sauce

Nigel Slater’s asparagus with lemon and tomato sauce. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

ASPARAGUS with LEMON & TOMATO SAUCE

A lovely fresh way with the season’s green spears using sweet Italian lemons. Serves 2.

lemon 1 
olive oil 60ml
lemon juice 1 tbsp
cherry tomatoes 8
chives 6 thin leaves
basil 8 leaves
tarragon 1 tbsp
asparagus 250g

Slice the skin from the lemon then go over it carefully removing every little bit of the bitter white pith that lies underneath. I find this easiest with a small, sharp paring knife.

Remove the sections of flesh and cut into tiny pieces, discarding seeds as you go. Put them into a mixing bowl then pour in the olive oil and lemon juice. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half then add to the lemon. Finely snip the chives, shred the basil and chop the tarragon, then add to the lemon and tomato. Season gently, with a little black pepper and sea salt. A few chive flowers would be an appropriate, though far from essential, addition. Set aside in a cool place for the flavours to marry.

Trim the asparagus, removing any tough ends, then steam or cook in boiling water as you wish. When it is tender, after eight or nine minutes or so, drain and divide between two plates. Spoon over the lemon dressing and serve.

Enjoy!

-Mark

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One thought on “BOOK REVIEW: “Tender” by Nigel Slater

  1. Pingback: Mexican + Chocolate + Beets + Sage + I won a contest! |

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