The New "Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone"
The Best Plant-Based Recipes
I am not a vegetarian, but like many of us, I am trying to introduce more plant- based meals into my family’s repertoire. This is an uphill battle at times, not for me but for my sons (pasta with butter is delicious but doesn’t really cut it as a complete meal). So I really wanted to try this cookbook. I was hoping to make a totally vegetarian meal that even my carnivorous sons would eat. That did not happen with my chickpea stew. But I am still willing to stand behind the name of this book – this is truly a cookbook for everyone.
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison was originally released in 1997 and became an instant classic, a vegetarian bible if you will. It was re-released in 2014 with 200 new recipes and updated narrative. And her timing is spot-on. As the author says in her introduction, in 1997, no one was eating kale salad, coconut oil was bad for you and kefir lime leaves were pretty exotic. Flash forward to 2014 and these ingredients are readily available in Toronto markets and used in our households. And omnivores as well as vegetarians are looking to increase their consumption of vegetables. This cookbook is just the ticket.
This is a book for home cooks. The recipes are interesting and not too complicated. Timing is flexible, for example if you use dried legumes the dish will take longer but the recipe provides options if you would prefer to use canned. I don’t know what comes to your mind when you think of a vegetarian cookbook, but this is more than “tofu surprise”. It’s an encyclopedia of recipes that doesn’t include animal products. It has been described as a vegetarian Joy of Cooking. Many dishes can be incorporated into vegetarian and carnivorous meals or enjoyed on their own. There are soups, stews, pasta, pizza and polenta, grains, eggs, breakfast, breads and desserts.
It was easy to pull together a complete meal from this book using ingredients I had on hand. I made a chickpea stew with escarole and tomatoes which I served on Israeli couscous. Hearty and delicious. I also made an unusual cauliflower salad with green olives and capers. The cauliflower was grated raw and mixed with celery, peppers and escarole in a sherry vinaigrette. Surprisingly good. Thumbs up from all of us who ate it. For another meal I made refried beans which I used as the base for tortillas and cheese.
The book includes a bounty of international flavours including curries, tagines, stir-fries, pastas and pizzas, gratins and ragouts, moles and chili. All vegetarian, some vegan. Lots of main course dishes but also many simple salads that I am interested to try. Really, something for everyone.
Recommended? Absolutely, for any home cook who likes to eat plant-based foods.