Vegetables reign supreme in Bryant Terry’s world. In his new cookbook, Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes, the James Beard Award-winning chef and author presents a collection of 150 recipes in which vegetables are the unabashed stars of the table, not the paltry side dishes.
Terry’s latest cookbook comes six years after his critically acclaimed Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed. “I very intentionally pulled back from book writing and overburdening myself with projects because I wanted to be as present as possible with my children,” explains the father of two. In the introduction to Vegetable Kingdom, Terry writes that his daughters, ages five and eight, inspired the book and were among his dishes' first tasters.
“One of the litmus tests for the recipes was if they liked it,” he says. “Kids are brutally honest.”
The world of vegetables can be intimidatingly vast, yet Terry’s book lays it out in an accessible way alongside his takes on marinades, sauces and spice blends influenced by American Southern, Caribbean, sub-Saharan African and Asian cuisines. Terry credits his daughter’s gardening class for the approachable architecture of the book, which categorizes recipes by which part of the plant the central ingredient comes from. Starting with seeds such as beans and corns, recipes grow into bulbs (fennel, leeks and the like), then into stems (asparagus and such), flowers (broccoli and its floreted cousins), fruits (squashes and peppers), leaves (greens of every kind) and back down to fungus, tubers and roots.
“When I was composing the recipes, I was mindful of the fact that there’ll be a diversity of readers,” he says noting that his audience has varying degrees of comfort in the kitchen. To that end, he’s included a couple of beginner-level recipes in each section. (“If you could boil a pot of water, you can make this recipe,” he says.) These are interspersed with more elaborate meals fit for dinner parties and leisurely, late weekend lunches.