The Way to Eat Now

Modern Vegetarian Food

Formats and Prices


Trade Paperback


Trade Paperback

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This is the way to eat now–feel-good food to satisfy every craving, from morning to night, and for every occasion

Publisher’s note: The Way to Eat Now was previously published in hardcover as Good Veg.

Here is food that surprises and thrills through contrasts–think crisp and soft, sweet and sour, chile heat and refreshing herb–with meals that include:

  • Roasted Carrot Soup with Flatbread Ribbons
  • Chickpea Crepes with Wild Garlic
  • Brown Rice Bibimbap Bowls with Smoky Peppers
  • Toasted Marzipan Ice Cream
Thoughtfully organized chapters will help you find just the right dish at any time of day, and for every occasion:
  • Mornings
  • Grazing
  • Quick
  • Thrifty
  • Gatherings
  • Grains
  • Raw-ish
  • Afters
  • Pantry



This is my second book on vegetarian cooking, and the culinary climate has indisputably changed for the better in the five or so years that have passed since I wrote the first. Rather than being relegated to the sidelines or dismissed as problematic, vegetarian food is now, rightly, widely celebrated for its diversity and myriad benefits, whether for health or in terms of cost or the environment. The time is right for a book packed to the rafters with ideas and a rainbow of colors, so you never need wonder what to cook for any occasion.

You might be looking for inspiration after a lifetime of vegetarianism, or seeking ideas for new meat-free meals; there will be recipes here for you, almost all based on our sheer and fabulous variety of fresh produce. There are chapters on Grazing and Gatherings to cover the sociable, convivial way we eat on weekends. Many of these recipes are slower projects: gnocchi made with purple potatoes and baked with goat cheese and kale, or vegetable-filled pot sticker dumplings with a black vinegar and chile dipping sauce. The Afters chapter was written with entertaining in mind, too; many of the recipes are made without common allergens such as dairy, eggs or gluten, or are simply vegan, to make it easier when cooking dessert for a crowd. Hopefully, a single recipe—such as the Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake with Almonds, or the Roasted Pineapple, Coconut and Makrut Lime Sorbet—should suit all.

Both the Quick and the Thrifty chapters cover midweek eating, with faster cooking and, usually, fewer ingredients, to get supper on the table without much fuss or expense. A note on "quick cooking": I want you to feel inspired and happy to be in the kitchen, rather than coaxed there with broken dreams of supper-in-six-minutes-using-only-three-ingredients. Quick, for me, means a good supper in thirty minutes or so . . . and time to unwind as I cook. Based on this premise, I hope you will forgive me for failing to hit the frenzied fifteen-minute mark in most cases. . . .

Mornings, one of the larger chapters in the book, is intended to straddle both weekday and weekend eating, from brunches to snacks, juices to smoothies, nut milks to butters, providing balanced ideas that aren't full of sugar. Many of the recipes (Sweet Potato Cakes with Lime and Avocado, or Overnight Smoky Baked Beans, for example) will also do just as well later in the day.

I feel that the key to satisfying vegetarian cooking is in contrast. This is most evident in East Asian recipes—you will find many here—where the balance of hot versus cool, crisp versus soft, sweet versus sour, chile heat versus refreshing herb, is all. The theory has legs beyond East Asia though and, if you bear it in mind, will add so much to your cooking, even if it is simply in making a perfectly balanced salad dressing or adding hot toasted nuts to a cool dish as a final flourish of texture and temperature. Consider texture and temperature as much as taste; it will elevate your cooking. So will putting effort into the basics: A patient and wise cook will tease out extravagant base flavors as, say, a chopped onion slowly caramelizes in oil or butter, adding revolutionary flavor to their finished supper. Never trust a recipe that tells you to soften an onion in three minutes!

Any food writer has to pick a level at which to aim, from three-ingredient, five-minute cheats for novice cooks right through to high-end, restaurant-style projects for the ambitious and highly skilled reader. The level of this book, if you will, is that of keen and interested home cook, as I find many vegetarians to be. I assume you have a good array of spices in your pantry and won't mind being generous with fresh herbs. The sheer variety of fresh produce available to many of us is astonishing and inspiring, and this forms the basis of this book, so you will have to forgive the odd weird and wonderful vegetable or less common herb creeping in. You will find advice on where to find them, and I have always tried to bear the fraught supermarket shopper in mind, suggesting good alternatives to any unusual additions.

Thoughtful eating—by which I mean "healthy with a good dose of common sense"—shouldn't be tricky and needn't be patronizing. I find the popular practice of demonizing certain foods an utterly joyless experience; far better, I think, to eat natural and unprocessed most of the time and let life take its enjoyable course for the rest. In a nutshell: Eat a rainbow of vegetables (most of the time) with real ingredients rather than processed (most of the time) . . . which is where the Raw-ish chapter comes in. Here, you will find recipes that give a particular nod to vibrancy without compromising on taste, via, for instance, a simple (but wonderful) Grated Brassica and Date Salad, or Almond-Stuffed Vine Leaves.

Still considering raw foods, I run through sprouting for beginners, achievable ways to ferment and how to incorporate seaweed in your cooking—all incredibly nutritious habits, and enjoyable and delicious rather than worthy. It makes sense to me, for example, to soak nuts and seeds when the idea strikes and I have a spare minute. Put simply, the soaked nut or seed (or, indeed, grain) gets ready to sprout. Slowly dried out or not, the texture and taste improve, too; almonds, for example, plump up and taste fresh and true with a milky "snap." Even undried soaked nuts are delicious and make an interesting texture tossed through a salad or steamed grain.

I use whole grains often—nearly always, in fact—favoring their rustic character and ability to keep us feeling satisfied for longer . . . but if a recipe would be made clumsy by their inclusion, I see no problem in using the refined equivalent. See the ingenious Malaysian fresh spring rolls known as popiah in this book: I tried making the delicate wrappers with whole-grain flour, but it lacked the elasticity needed for such a thin spring roll skin. Surely eating a wide range of colorful, natural ingredients and enjoying them is more important than the odd handful of white flour in the mix?

Grains, unrefined or not, are not always in fashion, as they are rich in energy-giving carbohydrates. . . . But this isn't a diet book, it's a cookbook full of recipes for giving pleasure, sometimes wholesome, sometimes less so, and grains are invaluable for balance. In their dedicated chapter, they add interest as well as welcome bolster, in light, crunchy Quinoa and Fava Bean Falafel with Lemon, or a resonant Very Green Spelt "Risotto."

As for sugar, that other ready carbohydrate source, I try to use naturally sweet vegetables and fruits and just enough unrefined sugar in lieu of refined versions. Unrefined sugars—from maple syrup to natural raw cane—contribute nuanced flavor and trace minerals without such a sharp spike in energy. They are still sugars, though (not a bad thing, just a reminder). Concentrating and caramelizing the sugars in vegetables and roots through a roast in the oven or a flash in a griddle pan is a technique I use often, to add all-important zing and balance. Relishes, sambals and fresh chutneys, such as Sweet Pepper and Chile Jam or Roasted Tomato and Pickled Lemon Relish, sing with flavor as they aren't packed with sugar.

Assuming you eat enough vegetables, I find the nutritional trick with vegetarian food is to give thought to protein . . . with the caveat that most of us don't need vast slabs of it to make it through the day. A sensible amount—nuts or seeds, pulses, eggs, dairy yogurt or cheese, whole grains or soy products—will suffice. You'll find myriad ways of using them here, often championing nuts and seeds (underused, well-priced protein and invaluable for interest). Combine a couple of proteins for extra boost and more variety; for instance, a handful of cooked freekeh grains add substance to a lima bean–rich tabbouleh with a good dusting of Sesame Seed Za'atar in the Grains chapter.

And it's worth noting that cheese can be an issue for vegetarians. Rennet, an enzyme used to coagulate many cheeses, is traditionally derived from bovine stomachs. It's easy, however, to find vegetarian cheeses made with nonanimal rennet. In this book I have only used cheeses exclusively or commonly found in vegetarian form. If you are a nonvegetarian trying to eat more meat-free food, this is unlikely to concern you. The choice is entirely yours and cheeses can be swapped to suit. You will also find recipes for rudimentary rennet-free fresh cheeses in these pages, in the form of ricotta and labneh.

Protein is, perhaps, an even more important issue for vegans. The protein in nonanimal foods does not contain the full quota of amino acids the body needs, but combining certain foods—such as dried beans, peas or lentils with whole grains—completes the essential amino acid quota. In practice, this could be as simple as baked beans on whole-grain toast, but a grain bowl with a tahini dressing or a tofu and noodle stir-fry has the same effect. (I found it easier to avoid honey in any otherwise-vegan recipes, as it can be a contentious ingredient, and maple or date syrups are an easy swap.)

Predominantly, this is a book to celebrate fresh produce. I hope the emphasis on ebullient vegetables and bold flavors will inspire you through the seasons and occasions. There is certainly an interest in health and vitality threaded through it, but hopefully a measured and realistic strand. Above all, my intention is that you will cook these recipes for yourself and for loved ones, vegetarian or not, and that they will bring you joy.

chapter one


"Brunch puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week." Guy Beringer, 1895.

Before chancing on this quote, apparently taken from an article entitled "Brunch: A Plea," written by a British man in Hunter's Weekly, I had wrongly assumed brunch to be an American invention, so strong is the pancake-and-coffee culture there now.

Mr. Beringer was clearly onto something, but, though I include suitably distinguished brunch-worthy recipes in this chapter in the form of spiced waffles and parsnip pancakes, homemade labneh and sprightly sweet potato cakes, very few of us can afford the luxury of leisurely brunches or breakfasts on a daily—or even weekly—basis.

I don't think there's much to be done, in a cookbook at least, about the pace of most of our mornings, but if you have an interest in good food and eating well, I suspect you'll be eager to start the day off on a positive note with some proper fuel. This is tricky at breakfast time. Certainly in the UK, where I'm based, there is still a widespread reliance on packaged breakfast cereals, many of them sugary and refined, in spite of the manufacturers' hard sell to the contrary. Children and adults so often start the day by opening a package for a life-giving jolt of sugar.

There's no easy solution to this in terms of time pressure, but the fact is that homemade hot cereals will contain only the sweetness you add and afford you some control over their cost. My vegan Winter Baked Chia and Berry Oatmeal is easily adapted to suit any seasonal berry mix, nut or seed. It will gently satiate a sweet tooth without causing blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. The energy in the oats is released slowly, tempered by the good fats and vital protein in the nuts and seeds. More to the point, baked oatmeal, and, in the warmer months, Bircher Muesli, can be swiftly prepared the night before they are needed. A batch of Bircher Muesli will last for a few days in the fridge, ready for portions to be topped with fresh juice and/or your favorite milk and fruits. Overnight Smoky Baked Beans can also be made well ahead and even frozen in portions, if sweet breakfasts are not to your taste.

Waffle batters can be made well ahead and are especially popular with small people, who invariably love to help make them. The Spiced Buckwheat Waffles with Mango don't have to be sweet. Drop the fruit and swap in snipped chives for the sweet spices, if you prefer. Make the crisp-edged waffles following the same method (they will also work as little drop scones if you don't have a waffle iron), but serve them with fresh ricotta cheese, a few drops of balsamic vinegar and roasted peppers; or a poached egg, sliced scallion, avocado and cherry tomatoes; or seared tempeh slices, toasted pumpkin seeds, arugula and squash cubes you have roasted the day before.

Likewise, eggy bread works well in a savory incarnation. Use your favorite bread—a stale sourdough or seeded loaf is ideal—dipped into a bowl of beaten egg, a touch of milk and a spoon of chopped herbs, until just shy of sodden. You can add a whisper of crushed garlic, finely grated vegetarian Parmesan or spices such as paprika, too. Fry the doused bread in oil or butter until lacy and golden on both sides, then top with roasted tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms or wilted spinach and goat cheese.

Using whole-grain and unrefined ingredients wherever possible has become second nature in my home cooking. If you can choose ingredients with a lower glycemic index and more fiber (which, invariably, whole-grain and unrefined versions possess), your body will take longer to break them down, ensuring blood sugars remain steady. This means selecting whole-grain flour instead of refined white, or reaching for old-fashioned rolled oats instead of instant. You will also be adding natural flavor and character to your food in the process.

If eating, or even sitting down, first thing simply isn't an option, nut- or seed-packed protein snacks, such as my Cashew and Coconut Bites, offer more sustenance than a midmorning Pop-Tart. Health food shops and even supermarkets sell variations on this theme, but they are expensive; besides, they're very easy to make at home. You will be able to adapt the flavors and, if they suit your lifestyle, mix up bulk batches to freeze, saving money on ingredients. They make an excellent snack to have on hand when traveling, as they keep very well, boost flagging energy levels and are easy to eat.

Use quiet moments to stock up for the week ahead. Blend soaked nuts and seeds into dairy-free milks, or make your own indulgent nut butters, ready for toast and smoothies (see Nut and Seed Milk and Nut Butters). Almost-instant jams can be whipped up from seasonal fruit, chia seeds and not much more (see Chia Jams). It takes some effort and forethought, but prioritizing good, nutritious food doesn't just set you up for the day, it lays down the tone for your daily eating and can help to form better habits in everything you cook.

Many-Grain Porridge with Brown Butter Squash and Apple

I'm sure you don't need a recipe for basic hot cereal. But this is a rugged incarnation and warrants a recipe of sorts for the longer simmer and the sheer amount of liquid involved. To cook the grains—use whatever varieties you have or prefer—in relatively little time, steep them in water before you go to bed. You can make the porridge a day or two before and reheat servings with extra water or whole milk. You could serve this porridge with any fruit compote, honey or syrup, but sweet, buttery winter squash, softened with apple and warming spices, makes a welcome change.

To make this vegan, swap almond milk for the dairy milk and use coconut butter in place of the butter (but forget about browning it first).

Serves 4

1¼ cups (250 g) mixed whole grains (in groat form, if applicable) such as amaranth, barley, buckwheat, freekeh, kasha, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, spelt and/or teff . . .

Pinch of sea salt, or more, to taste

2 tablespoons salted butter

2 cups (250 g) peeled, deseeded and finely chopped dense and firm winter squash

1 firm eating apple, such as a Cox, Gala, Pink Lady or Jonagold, cored and finely chopped

1 small cinnamon stick

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk

  1. Put the grains in a large mixing bowl and cover generously with cool water. Leave to soak overnight, or for at least a couple of hours if time is short.
  2. Drain the grains and transfer to a large saucepan with a pinch or so of salt and 3¼ cups (750 ml) of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often, until the porridge is thick and the most stubborn grain in the mix is tender. This isn't an exact science . . . keep tasting and adding water to loosen as needed until the grains are softened to your liking and the mixture is very thick. Plan on a minimum of 20 minutes' simmering time for the tiny grains and grasses, more for stubborn groats.
  3. When the porridge is almost cooked, melt the butter in a large frying pan set over medium heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for a few minutes, until it turns a couple of shades darker and begins to smell toasty. Add the squash and apple with the cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until tender and browned, but still holding its shape. Stir in the sugar and cook for 5 minutes more, until caramelized.
  4. Add the milk to the cooked hot cereal and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until thickened to an oatmeal-like consistency. Divide between bowls and top with the spiced squash and apple.

Winter Baked Chia and Berry Oatmeal

A hands-off and nourishing oatmeal for cold, busy mornings. I have kept this version vegan, but you can use any milk—dairy or otherwise—and add other grains such as quinoa, barley or rye flakes for up to half the weight of the oats. To my taste, this doesn't need any added sweetener, but a dash of maple or date syrup—or just a handful of dried fruit—will tailor the recipe to the sweeter toothed.

Serves 4 to 6

3 cups (700 ml) almond or coconut milk, or other milk of your choice, plus more to serve, optional

2½ cups (200 g) old-fashioned rolled oats

⅔ cup (100 g) pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons chia seeds

⅔ cup (100 g) frozen or fresh raspberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C), if you are making the oatmeal immediately.
  2. Combine the milk, oats, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds in a 12 × 8-inch (30 × 20 cm) ovenproof dish and stir in 1½ cups (350 ml) of boiling water. Set aside to swell for 5 minutes. At this point you can also cover the dish and leave until the next morning, if you like. Even if it appears set, I usually find that it sorts itself out in the oven.
  3. Add the berries, stir well and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until bubbling gently and browning at the very edges. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes, to allow the liquid to settle.
  4. Eat as it is, or pour milk over each serving at the table.

Coconut-Chia Strawberry Bowls

Bowls, pots, cups . . . serve this summery breakfast however you wish. The chia seeds swell to thicken the coconut milk and crushed strawberries into a delicate dessert, something akin to chilled tapioca pudding in texture. If you want to lighten this up, swap in any coconut drink with no added nasties for all or half of the richer canned coconut milk.

Serves 4 to 6

One 13.5-ounce (400 ml) can coconut milk or coconut drink (see recipe introduction)

½ cup (90 g) chia seeds

Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus a small squeeze of juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped out

1½ pounds (700 g) very ripe and sweet strawberries, hulled

2 to 3 teaspoons sweetener of your choice, such as honey, maple syrup or any sugar

¼ cup (15 g) toasted coconut flakes

  1. Put the coconut milk in a mixing bowl with the chia seeds. Stir well and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until the chia has swelled and thickened the liquid.
  2. Add the lemon zest and juice, vanilla and 1 pound (400 g) of the strawberries to the bowl and crush with a potato masher until no whole berries remain (but you want a bit of texture here, so leave a good few strawberry pieces in the mix). Now stir in your choice of sweetener to taste and divide the mixture between small bowls. At this stage you can chill the bowls for 30 minutes to firm up the mixture. It can actually be chilled for up to a day but—personally—I dislike the firm, gelled texture that forms.
  3. Top with the remaining strawberries, halved or sliced according to size, and the toasted coconut flakes.

Bircher Muesli

Bircher muesli, that versatile bowlful of oats and nuts, softened in milk or juice for a few hours while you sleep, then combined with seasonal fruit and perhaps some yogurt in the morning, has entered common breakfast parlance. Many winter porridge eaters switch to a sprightly Bircher muesli (or "overnight oats") in the warmer months.

Vary the milks, using dairy or plant milks, and don't feel you have to stick to oats: Rye, quinoa, spelt, barley or buckwheat flakes can replace some or all of them. If you choose to add chia seeds, as we did for the photo, compensate for their thickening nature with extra fruit juice or milk. Hopefully, the following ideas will inspire as the seasons change.

Each serves 2

Apple, Quinoa and Pecan

2 apples, cored and coarsely grated, plus more sliced apple to serve

Squeeze of lemon juice

¾ cup (70 g) old-fashioned rolled oats

½ cup (50 g) quinoa flakes

⅓ cup (30 g) chopped pecans

½ cup (100 ml) apple juice

½ cup (120 ml) milk (any sort)

¼ cup (60 g) Greek or coconut yogurt

  1. Toss the grated apples with the lemon juice to keep them from browning, then mix with the oats, quinoa flakes and pecans in a bowl. Add the apple juice and milk. Stir well, cover and chill overnight.
  2. The next morning, stir in a bulging spoonful of the yogurt, divide between 2 bowls and top with the remaining yogurt and some sliced apple. Sweeten with a little honey, if you wish, though I usually find it doesn't really need anything else.

Plum, Fig and Rye with Flaxseeds

1 apple, coarsely grated

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 cup (80 g) old-fashioned rolled oats

⅔ cup (50 g) rye flakes

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 ml) apple juice

½ cup (120 ml) almond milk

3 ripe plums

2 ripe figs

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

  1. Toss the grated apple with the lemon juice to keep it from browning. Put the oats and rye flakes in a bowl, add the apple, apple juice and almond milk and toss well to combine. Cover and chill overnight.
  2. The next morning, halve, pit and chop the plums, then quarter the figs. Divide the oats between 2 bowls and top with the fruit and flaxseeds.

Nectarine and Coconut

1½ cups (120 g) old-fashioned rolled oats

2 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut

½ cup (100 ml) coconut milk (the drink, not the canned milk)

½ cup (100 ml) fresh peach juice

3 ripe nectarines

¼ cup (60 g) Greek or coconut yogurt

  1. Stir the oats and desiccated coconut with the coconut milk and peach juice in a bowl. Cover and chill overnight.
  2. The next morning, halve, pit and chop the nectarines. Fold half the fruit through the oats with 1 tablespoon of the yogurt. Divide between 2 bowls. Serve the rest of the fruit on top of the oats with the remaining yogurt.

Teff, Banana and Maple Loaf

For anyone nervous about baking without eggs, forgiving banana breads are an excellent place to start. Mashed banana is a natural egg replacement as well as a sweetener, meaning the batter doesn't need much in the way of sugar (maple syrup and coconut sugar in this case). Teff is a natural whole grain; find it at health food shops or online. Combined with whole-grain spelt flour, the flavor is nutty and sweet.

Serves 8 to 10

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (75 g) coconut butter, plus more for the pan

1 cup (125 g) whole-grain spelt flour

⅔ cup (100 g) teff flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup (175 ml) almond milk

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

¼ cup (50 g) coconut sugar or dark brown sugar

⅓ cup (75 ml) maple syrup (dark color, robust taste, if possible)

¼ teaspoon fine salt

On Sale
Apr 30, 2019
Page Count
336 pages