Vegetables First by Ricardo

I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to review Chef Ricardo Larrivee’s cookbook, Vegetables First. When Penguin Random House Canada offered me a review copy of Vegetables First, I was quick to accept the offer. I have been a fan of Ricardo magazine for quite some time. Ricardo’s recipes are delicious, very easy to follow and like the title of the book suggests, vegetables are the main attraction.

I was so excited to get into the kitchen and try some of Ricardo’s newest recipes this past weekend. The first recipe I made was this fantastic Buddha bowl loaded with fresh vegetables, chickpeas and soba noodles. I couldn’t bring myself to drizzle the sauce onto the bowl because it was far too beautiful to cover up, but after the photo shoot I poured every drop of that delicious peanut sauce all over everything. It is so yummy and you’re in luck because I have permission from the publisher to reprint the recipe. You’ll find it at the end of the blog post, but first, let me tell you about this amazing asparagus and goat cheese tart.

This recipe caught my eye because asparagus is in season right now and I love goat cheese. I was also intrigued by the tart shell recipe, which contains toasted hazelnuts. That combination of ingredients sounded pretty perfect to me.

Ricardo’s recipe calls for a 9 inch tart pan. I thought I had one, but as it turns out, I have a 10 inch pan and a 7 inch pan, so rather than going out to buy another pan, I improvised and went with the 7 inch pan. The end result was a deeper tart shell and more goat cheese filling. I was okay with that and nobody in my family had any complaints. In fact, they all loved it. (If you are watching your calorie intake, the 9 inch tart pan is the way to go). The crust is so delicious and unlike anything I’ve ever had before. I would definitely make it again. The goat cheese filling was so easy to make and it paired really well with the lightly dressed blanched asparagus and toasted hazelnuts.

This tart is also a great make-ahead recipe. I baked the tart shell Sunday morning. The pastry was really easy to make. All of the ingredients just go into the food processor. The pastry comes together quickly and it is really easy to handle. I added the goat cheese filling to the shell just before heading over to my parents’ for Easter dinner. It was the perfect appetizer. Everybody really enjoyed it. That’s what cooking is all about, bringing loved ones together to enjoy simple and tasty food.

Ricardo and I have very similar food philosophies. We both value incorporating lots of fresh plant-based whole foods into our diet and making them as delicious as possible. If you’re looking for some vegetable-forward meal inspiration, I think you will really enjoy Vegetables First. It’s an incredibly beautiful cookbook; the food photography is absolutely stunning.

I made a couple other recipes from the book as well. Both of them were amazing. The tomato and ricotta tartlets from page 164 were not only delicious, but absolutely stunning as well. They are super easy to make too.

I also made the spinach cornbread from page 179. It was also delicious and super moist. The secret to this moist cornbread is the creamed corn. I brought this cornbread to a work potluck and it was very well received. I also made Ricardo’s chili with black beans and sweet potato to go with it. It was absolutely divine!

Thanks again to Ricardo and Appetite Random House for allowing me to reprint a couple of the recipes for my readers. You’ll find the Buddha bowl and the asparagus tart recipes from the cookbook (pages 175 and 199) below.


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.



1/3 cup      (75 ml) mayonnaise

2 tbsp       (30 ml) peanut butter

2 tbsp       (30 ml) water

1 tbsp        (15 ml) rice vinegar

1 tsp          (5 ml) sambal oelek

1 tsp          (5 ml) soy sauce


1 tbsp         (15 ml) rice vinegar

1/2 tsp       sugar

1              pinch crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups (170 g) sliced cabbage

1              carrot, cut into fine ribbons

1              can (19 oz/540 ml) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp  (15 ml) vegetable oil

1/2 lb        (225 g) green beans, trimmed and cut in half

1/2 lb        (225 g) soba noodles

1              small mango, peeled and diced

1/4 cup   (40 g) toasted salted peanuts, chopped

2 tbsp  finely chopped cilantro


In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.


In a large bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cabbage and carrot. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Let marinate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan over medium heat, brown the chickpeas in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the green beans for 4 minutes or until al dente. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain. In the same pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and lightly oil.

Place the noodles in bowls. Top with cabbage, carrot, chickpeas, and green beans. Drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with mango, peanuts, and cilantro.

NOTE You can replace the chickpeas with chicken or grilled shrimp.


30 MIN


15 MIN


12 MIN





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.


30 MIN


1 H


25 MIN





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