Hetty Lui McKinnon’s book Tenderheart is packed full of inspiration to make vegetables the hero of the table. In this extract we’ve chosen recipes to show off the stars of summer – eggplant, zucchini and fennel.


This is a book about my favourite vegetables. Vegetables are foundational to my everyday cooking and at the very heart of every dish I create. Preparing them daily, with respect and care, is a ritual that I observed in my parents’ kitchen growing up and is now crucial to my days, too. At the end of the day, no matter how tired I am, the act of washing, peeling, chopping and preparing vegetables for dinner helps me stay grounded, a way to bring order to my day.

This book is about vegetables but, for me, there can be no story about the significance of vegetables in my life without telling you about my father, and the enduring legacy of the fresh, tender world he created for his family.

My dad woke at 3am every morning. In darkness, he dressed swiftly and met my Uncle Benny outside, travelling together to work at Flemington Markets (now known as Sydney Markets), the largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Australia. In many ways his job at the markets defined him. He became known as a supplier of fresh produce not only at work, but amongst our friends and family. Every day he came from work with trays and boxes of vegetables and fruit, ready for our family meals, but always enough to share with others.

Today, my endless love for vegetables is one of the ways I honour my dad’s legacy, by cooking them every day with detail and care. HETTY LUI MCKINNON