Cookbook Review & Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart from Vegetables First

I recently received a free copy of Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable - Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée from  Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable - Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée from Appetite by Random House to review.

This cookbook warmed my heart for several reasons. First, as a Canadian, I absolutely loved watching Chef Ricardo on TV. His show, Ricardo & Friends, was one of my go-tos; rarely missing an episode. Such an inspiration as a budding foodie at the time!

Second, it is stated right up front that the book isn’t meant to be a vegetarian cookbook. Rather, it is about making vegetables the leading role and the meat or seafood (where included in some of the recipes) a supporting role. I love this idea so much. Since the start of last year, I’ve been trying to focus my cooking on incorporating more vegetables. More meatless meals, and more unique side dishes of veggies. I find this book such an inspiration for meal ideas! I also know many friends that in the same boat as me on this too and would definitely recommend this cookbook to start.

Lastly, Ricardo dedicates this cookbook to farmers. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories and posts you’ll also know that I’ve meeting more and more farmers since last summer. I’ve been learning about the farming practices of how our produce is grown and what it really takes for the vegetable to make to my plate. Farmers are the real hero! Supporting local agriculture is important to not only our health, but the health of our plant and everything that depends on it to thrive. Eating local can change the world.

This cookbook is beautiful and artful as the vegetables that inspired the book. Recipes are fully tested, straightforward and approachable—each listing the preparation and cooking time, as well as the servings and how well it freezes. I especially adore the additional sections on how to use even the wilted unused parts of the plants for making broths, soups or purees, as well as storages tips and shelf life of most veggies.

When flipping through the book, the asparagus tart stood out the most to me. At the time I had a handful of asparagus spears ready to eat in the garden. The first ever harvest too! It also let me practice my tart making skills. The recipe was so easy to follow and came together perfectly. I decided to make mine into three smaller tarts, topping with some slivered almonds and grated cured egg yolks I had on hand too.



Excerpted from Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée. Copyright © 2019 Ricardo Media. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


  • 1/4 cup (35 g) toasted hazelnuts

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) whole wheat flour

  • 2 tsp thyme leaves

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut

  • into cubes 2 tbsp (30 ml) 35% cream


  • 4 oz  (115 g) fresh goat cheese

  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) 35% cream

  • 1 lb (450 g) mix of blanched vegetables (wild asparagus or thin asparagus cut in half lengthwise and sprouting broccoli) (see note)

  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) white wine vinegar

  • Chopped, toasted hazelnuts, for serving

In a food processor, chop the hazelnuts with both flours. Add the thyme and salt. Mix to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Add the cream and pulse until the dough comes together.

Place the dough in a tart mould 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter and with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly on the bottom and sides of the mould. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

In a bowl, combine the goat cheese and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly across the bottom of the cooled tart shell.

 In another bowl, combine the vegetables with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and serve.

 NOTE Wild asparagus is not technically asparagus but is marketed under that name. You can find it in select grocery stores in the spring. Sprouting broccoli is also sold under the names broccolini. In this recipe, it can be replaced with rapini or broccoli.