I’ve waited so long for a book like Planted to be released, so when it was, I was there ready and waiting like an excited schoolchild for Amazon to deliver it. Planted is a vegan cookbook, which for once, offers something other than your usual soups, stews and rip-offs of meaty junk food.
Chantelle Nicholson is the Head Chef of Tredwells in London, Marcus Wearing’s Iconic Restaurant. Brought up on North Island New Zealand, Nicholson’s life was spent outside amongst an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables growing in the wild. A natural part of growing up, Nicholson spent her days amongst nature, returning home with goods for dinner. Naturally, this has progressed to her following a more plant based way of living and being naturally competent cooking Vegetarian and Vegan Foods.
For me, this book is a huge breath of fresh air. All too many vegan books are centred around deep fried vegan junk food, Stews or salad upon everlasting salad. Yes, once in a while these are great and some ideas can be really novel, but so many books blend into one, maybe changing a spice here or there. Planted is different, it’s what I would describe as ‘Approachable Refined Vegan Food’. Dishes that you would be proud to serve at any dinner party, regardless of your guest’s dietary choice. Saying that, many dishes are perfectly suitable for weeknight cooking, you can pick and choose according to your ability and time constraints.
What is really refreshing for a vegan cookbook is that there aren’t too many recipes with endless lists of ingredients, and none are too extraordinary. It does however, on occasion, list another recipe in its ingredients list (such as Confit Lemon) which does require more time in terms of preparing the ingredients themselves. Just make sure you read through the entire recipes first.
The book is well laid out, the sections following a typical day’s eating but also including Snacks & Starters, Bakes and Basics, a section which I really find an integral part. The Food Photography is bright and simply beautiful, I literally found my mouth watering with each page turn.
Personally, there are too many highlights to list but examples of the dishes you can expect are ‘Wild Garlic Sushi Rolls’, ‘Grilled Asparagus with Homemade Ricotta, Toasted Hazelnut Tortellini & Yuzu Emulsion and ‘Gin & Elderflower Cheesecakes’.
I’ve tested a few of the recipes and they are well written with realistic ingredient quantities. I did find that in some instances you need to use common sense though. The batter for the ‘Raspberry & Rose Muffins’ was very dry and required the addition of a little extra plant milk, but, as with any baking, quantities can vary according to ingredients and humidity, so I wouldn’t call this a negative aspect.
To summarise, I really love this book (as you have probably guessed). I would say it is for someone who has some element of confidence in the kitchen as some dishes require methods which take practice to master. But, if you are wanting to impress and show people that eating vegan CAN be refined as well as utterly delicious, it’s worth it. Even if you just gaze at the photographs and drool.
Next stop, Tredwells, to sample Chantelle’s cooking myself!
Planted by Chantelle Nicholson is available on Amazon Kindle for £9.99 or in Hardback from £16 from all good bookstores and Amazon.