My bookcase groans under the weight of cookbooks. All have been used (anything we didn’t use got culled a year ago and another cull is coming) but some more than others. Every once in a while a cookbook comes along which immediately becomes a go-to for mid-week inspiration. Currently that book is River Cottage Light and Easy.
I bought this book late last year on the basis that River Cottage Veg had been a winner for me and it was only a tenner from the book man at work! I fell in love it with immediately. The premise that everything is pretty easy immediately appeals to my end of day weariness when I want to cook but am flagging. Secondly I like that meat is seen as an ingredient, not the meal itself. We’ve been cutting down on red meat generally, and this book is ‘light’ on meat, dairy and wheat without being preachy or faddy. It’s proper, wholesome food cooked simply.
My hero dish has to be chicken with lentils and rosemary. I’d never cooked red lentils in the oven like this before, but it is so simple and comforting I now prefer it to mashed potato! I’ve done a few riffs on this since, using different spices in the lentils, and replacing the chicken with sausages, but also going back to the original. You can see the recipe here.
Another eye opener has been the oven baked mushroom and shallot risotto. I’m addicted to risotto and this is so packed full of flavour that the parmesan didn’t even come out of the fridge. It takes longer to make than your usual risotto but it is well worth it and it only takes time, not effort.
Other highlights include the hot and sour mussels (move over cream), spicy sprats (great finger food and so bloody cheap!), fragrant Asian broth and eggy fish fingers.
I’ve only had one disappointment, and surprisingly it was the dish which was used in all the magazines and supplements’ when the book was being reviewed. The aromatic nutty chicken has a satay-like mix pushed under the skin, but I found it dried out and left a not so nice aftertaste. Who knows, maybe I was just having a bad day.
Writing this, I have been flicking through the book looking for recipe names and realised there are so many more I want to try- I haven’t even read the treats chapter- how’d I miss that! And hubby is now shouting out recipes he wants to make- result!
This, along with River Cottage Veg, has become a fixture – one of the books I pull out when I am planning my weekly menu. The fact that we ate our evening meals for a whole week from this and Veg without ever getting bored is, I think, testament to its usefulness. River Cottage Light and Easy is a keeper and won’t be getting culled from my shelves any time soon.