Winter 2024

Plants Taste Better by Chef Richard Buckley

As we celebrate ‘Healthy January’, we are delighted to team up with renowned Chef Richard Buckley and share one of our favourite vegetarian-based recipes from his cookbook.

Richard Buckley is an award-winning chef and owner of The Oak in Bath (UK), a Michelin Green Star recipient.

Buckley was raised a vegetarian and, after graduating with a degree in English Literature, he set about studying vegetable cookery whilst working in a series of top vegetarian restaurants. This culminated in his five-year role as head chef for Demuth’s Restaurant where he developed and refined his plant-centric cooking style. He has a passion for sharing the knowledge and techniques that he has learnt and developed in order to increase the general standard of vegan cookery across the country.

With over 15 years spent studying plants and working at top vegetarian restaurants, Richard released his cookbook: ‘Plants Taste Better’.

Plants Taste Better is a plant-based recipe book, where plants take centre stage on the dinner plate. With over 70 mouth-watering recipes, ranging from the simple to the stand-out, Plants Taste Better will guide and inspire you to get creative with vegan cookery.

This book balances the traditional with modernity to show readers how to make even the simplest ingredients shine. With delicious, thoughtful recipes and stunning images, you will be amazed what you can accomplish in your kitchen when you combine vegetables alongside a deeper understanding of the techniques requested.

Recipes include flavoursome snacks of Fritters and Squash & Hazelnut Pate, to showstopping mains of Carrot, Pea & Cardamom Tagine and Beetroot and Mushroom Casserole. If you have a sweet tooth, try getting your hands stuck into a decadent Chocolate Salted Caramel Taste, or Burnt Peaches.

On the topic of food, let’s share one of our favourite recipes from the cookbook!

Aubergine (Eggplant) Ragu with Pangrattato and Maltagliati

This dish is a great way of making use of a couple of leftovers: the pangrattato is fried breadcrumbs from a stale loaf – a fantastic thing to have on hand to sprinkle on almost everything that needs a bit of texture – and the maltagliati is essentially pasta offcuts. When you are making a lot of pasta you get left with lots of bits that weren’t quite the right fit; let them dry out and keep them in a pile and you have a quick, easy, free lunch. Obviously, if you aren’t making a lot of pasta then you can just roll out a batch of your favourite pasta and cut it into raggedy shape or alternatively just use your favourite store-bought dried pasta or break up some dried lasagne sheets.

Serves: 4 people



  • 250g (9oz) stale bread
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil


  • 400g (14oz/21/3 cups) fine semolina
  • 235g (81/3oz) warm water


  • 75ml (2¾fl oz/1/3 cup) extra virgin
  • olive oil, plus a little extra if needed
  • 2 aubergines (eggplants), cut into 1cm (1/2-inch) dice
  • 500g (2¼lb) plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ red chilli
  • 2g marjoram leaves
  • Maldon Sea Salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the pangrattato, blitz your stale bread in a food processor or blender to make breadcrumbs – the bigger the crumb the more crunch you get, just remember there is a line somewhere between breadcrumb and crouton. Purée the garlic, add it to the breadcrumbs and rub it in until all the crumbs are coated. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan (skillet), add the breadcrumbs and fry gently until golden and crispy. Turn onto a baking tray (sheet) to cool and store in an airtight container until needed.
  2. To make the pasta, put the semolina in a pile on a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle and carefully pour in the water, being sure not to let any spill out. Using a fork, whisk the water around, allowing the semolina to fall into the middle slowly. When it reaches the thickness of pancake batter, swap the fork for a dough scraper and chop in the remaining semolina to form a rough dough. Using your hand, bring it together into a rough ball and knead it a couple of times until homogenous but still dimpled and not smooth. Cover with a bowl and leave for 30 minutes to rest.
  3. Knead again; it should become very smooth and silky very quickly. Form it back into a ball, wrap in cling film (plastic wrap), and leave to rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours before using. You can keep it in the fridge overnight, but it will become sticky and harder to work.
  4. When ready to use, either roll the dough by hand using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, until it is just a little thinner than a credit card, or roll through a pasta machine following the instructions on page 124. Cut it into rough pieces and leave scattered on the work surface to dry until you need them.
  5. To make the ragu, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the aubergine (eggplant) and cook for up to around 45 minutes until it is broken down to a mush, catching on the pan, browning and existing in the space between dice and purée: be patient, it’s the key to the flavour of this sauce. Remove the aubergine (eggplant) from the pan and set to one side in a bowl. Put the tomatoes in a food processor or blender and blitz to a rough paste. Cook the onion in the same pan as the aubergine until soft, adding a little oil if needed.
  6. Mince the garlic and chilli together, add to the onion in the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook gently for about 15 minutes until the mixture is thickened and rich. Add the aubergine back in, along with the marjoram, and cook for 5 minutes to bring the flavours together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and season as for pasta water (see page 125). Heat the ragu gently in a pan next to it. Add the maltagliati to the boiling water and stir to prevent them sticking. As soon as they float to the surface, lift one out and check its doneness – we are looking for a crisp, al dente texture. If your pasta is freshly rolled this could be as fast as 20 seconds. Using a spider, quickly lift the pasta out into the ragu and stir it through. Using a ladle, add a little of the pasta cooking water to the ragu to create a glossy, creamy texture.
  8. Lay out 4 warmed, rimmed plates or pasta bowls and split the ragu and maltagliati among them. Sprinkle generously with the pangrattato and any leftover herbs.

Purchase ‘Plants Taste Better’ Today

Move aside meat, it’s time to give plants the spotlight in the kitchen! You can purchase your very own copy through Quarto Books today. The perfect gift for your fellow veggie friend…or yourself!

Make sure you have your Maldon Salt ready for these recipes! If you are running out, please feel free to browse on our Where to Buy Page to find your nearest store in which stocks our beloved Maldon Salt.

Lastly, we LOVE seeing your creations – please tag us on Instagram using the #maldonsalt so we can share your own take on Richard’s recipes!

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