Easy Wins by Anna Jones – Book Review by Women in the Food Industry Ambassador Antonia Lloyd

Easy Wins is the new cookbook by award-winning author Anna Jones, the preeminent voice of modern vegetarian cooking in the UK. It’s already creating a stir and has hit no 1 in The Sunday Times Bestseller list in its second week, a coup for author Anna but above all a win for us all. Ambassador of Women In the Food Industry, Antonia Lloyd, reviews Anna’s book.

Easy Wins by Anna Jones

The book’s starting point is a strong one: most of us are time poor in the kitchen yet seek flavourful dishes, ideally from simple recipes with accessible ingredients. Busy mum-of-two Anna knows how to do the hard work for us – taking 12 hero ingredients from her store cupboard including lemons, mustard, olive oil, peanut butter, tahini and more, she gives us 125 fresh recipe ideas to re-focus and energise the challenging task of cooking dinner.  Jamie describes it as ‘clever, delicious, heartfelt, and wholesome’ while Yotam Ottolenghi, calls it ‘a peek into Anna’s kitchen cupboards and best kept secrets… for an easy, honest, delicious win’.  For those uninitiated in Anna’s style, this is essential plant-based cooking because vegetables deserve attention whether or not you choose to be wholly vegan, vegetarian, or, in my case, flexitarian with three or four meat-free days in the week.

The opening recipe, pasta al limone, delivers in five ingredients that pack a punch. Its method is also ingeniously simple -the pasta water is flavoured with lemon zest, salt, olive oil, and garlic, so that the pasta takes on more intensity literally absorbing flavour as the water evaporates before being finished with lashings of parmesan, butter and lemon juice. So far so delicious, and economical – this is cooking that you can feel good about.

Picture above by Matt Russell used with the permission of  4th Estate

Over the weekend I decided to test out the aubergine, tamarind and peanut curry for my family and visiting in-laws. The sauce promised big flavours – rich with coconut milk, spices, peanut, tamarind, garlic and coriander- and was blitzed and ready to be poured over roasting aubergine, tomato and paneer fairly speedily. It emerged from the oven looking delicious 25 minutes later and we served it with a cooling raita and some basmati rice. Top notch.

Photography by Jodi Hinds

The Hot lemon and bay pudding was also very zesty, delivering a set sponge with a lemony sauce underneath and an interesting verdant hint of bay.

This is every day with wow and a pat on the back – climate friendly dishes that deliver on flavour. Each chapter has fresh ideas  – tahini inspires with a tantalising tahini-creamed chard, a borek with dark tahini, and an apple galette with intriguing tahini frangipane. Our old friend garlic turns up the notch in a confit garlic cauliflower cheese and onions are given new life in a sticky onion Eccles cake with carrot chutney. Capers add extra saltiness to a courgette salsa verde gratin, yum, and add a fun curveball to a chocolate ice-cream.

This wonderful book packed with great recipe ideas also includes a few select dishes by other great chefs: Stanley Tucci’s spaghetti alle Nerano with small delicate rounds of courgettes and Olia Hercules’s Ukrainian plump garlicky pampushky bread jump out.  Anna also offers useful advice to those wanting more insight – how to salt and layer one’s seasoning throughout the cooking not just at the start or at the end, and how to cook flexibly and make smart swaps – from thinking seasonally to actual swaps like lemon or lime for lime leaves when you don’t own any!

For anyone wanting more, Anna also explores what flavour actually is: not just what we literally taste but what we feel, see, and remember when we eat and how this alchemy plays into our understanding of deliciousness. Anna’s recipes set out to create harmonious dishes that hit all the five tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami adding a few new outliers as she calls them – green, grassy, verdant flavours; heat and spice that comes from chilli, cinnamon, cumin and more; and creamy richness. She’s clearly thought very deeply about each recipe and it shines through each page.

Anna Jones -Author of Easy Wins

Picture above by Matt Russell used with the permission of  4th Estate

Anna’s world is a forgiving, kind place where she encourages a lighter step, reducing waste and energy when cooking, making you feel more empowered to make better choices. I was a super fan of Anna’s bestselling One Pot, Pan, Planet, but what she has done with Easy Wins is to build on her passion for kind-to-the-planet, tasty, vegetable-led dishes in an even more accessible way.

Easy Wins by Anna Jones

Easy Wins by Anna Jones is published by 4thEstate. It’s available to buy from Harper Collins and Amazon.

You may also like to read our review of Recipes for a Better Menopause by Jane Baxter & Dr Federica Amati and our book review of Modern South Asian Kitchen by Sabrina Gidda

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