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Making Veg the Centrepiece with Riverford’s Guy Watson

Guy Watsons talks spring greens, seasonality and how to place rightful emphasis on vegetables.

Guy Watson Riverford

Swiftly approaching the most fruitful time of year for any vegetable grower, we quizzed the master of organic veg, Guy Watson from Riverford Organic Farms, how we make vegetables the centrepiece to any dinner table. It would appear that seasonality is once again the key…

What is your favourite veg this time of year? 

Purple sprouting broccoli is a favourite of mine and everyone at Riverford. It’s a delicacy that’s equal if not superior to asparagus and has the great advantage of coming into season from January to May, when other home-grown greens are in short supply. Kale is also a saving grace at this time of year. It was originally grown largely to see cows and sheep through the winter, but in recent years its popularity has rocketed. In The Riverford Field Kitchen one of our most popular dishes is the Kale Caesar Salad.  

What vegetables hold their own on the dinner table and are best used in statement dishes?

Beetroot is fantastic for adding the most wonderful colour to any dinner table. Its current renaissance is well deserved as its deep earthy sweetness if full of culinary potential; whether as young, tender, thin-skinned new season beets in June in a salad, or thumping barn-stored roots wizzed into a winter borscht. Broad beans are also a spring and summer highlight. If you double-pod them the inner beans give the most wonderful, vibrant green colour to a myriad of salads and side dishes.  

Is eating seasonally the key to tasty vegetarian food? 

Definitely; at Riverford we like to make the most of what veg is in season and really celebrate them. In our farm restaurant, The Field Kitchen, we aren’t ashamed to use the same seasonal stars in multiple dishes on the same day – we want to make the most of them. Eating very out of season fruit and veg from another country is never going to match up on flavour; supermarket strawberries in winter are a prime example. Eating with the seasons also makes everything so much more exciting when it comes round.  

What is your opinion on meat consumption as a nation, and do you think the recent hype regarding eating too much meat is justified? 

Certainly. Last year we ran an independent survey on this exact topic and debated the balance through our How Much Meat? campaign. There is no doubt that many of us eat more meat than is good for us and the planet. We believe in a ‘less and better’ approach to meat: eat much less of it, and invest in high welfare, organic meat. Organic guarantees the highest standard of animal welfare, prohibits the use of routine antibiotics, means the animal is truly free range and when it comes to beef (which if often fed with unsustainably grown grain and soya) feeds almost entirely on grass.  

What simple tricks do you have to making veg-based dishes wholesome and satisfying even for those who eat meat?

You really don’t need meat to make a wonderful, satisfying meal. If you’ve got good quality, fresh ingredients and an inspiring recipes you’re already off to a good start. Try cooking dishes that are satisfying and packed with flavour, like curries, tagines and risotto. Alternatively, for die-hard meat lovers, cook using ingredients like chorizo and bacon which have lots of flavour and use them as a seasoning.    \

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Foodlover Magazine

West Country FOODLOVER is a print magazine and news based website offering a foodie’s guide of what’s hot across the South West. We inspire foodies with great seasonal recipes, competitions, news and events. The magazine, website and newsletter reach more than 128,000 foodies each issue.