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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

I am sure that we have become good enough friends that I can tell you something.  A few years ago when I was trying to make the transition to eating much more vegetarian meals, I actually said aloud to someone "I seriously cannot think of how to make entire vegetarian meals.  I mean, I can think of some side dishes and salads, but then the whole "dinner" ends up being just a bunch of side dishes with no real star of the show..."  Shocking, I know.  I actually felt that way at one point when I was trying to shed the meat & fish laden foods I had grown up with in Hawaii and wasn't seeing the whole picture about the beautiful, sexy world of vegetables...

Now, if you can believe it, cooking full vegetarian meals is like second nature to me.  I would even go so far as to say I can dazzle my completely vegetarian friends at Supper Club.  But I also managed to have my carnivore friend, Aja, over for a veggie-filled pasta dinner, and she says to me "This is really delicious, but I did find myself saying where's the meat?!"

If you have ever found yourself in the same predicament or just want to explore more vegetarian cooking--beyond the simple use of marinara sauce and pasta or stir-frying some tofu with veggies--I must recommend a vegetarian bible of sorts (nearly 1,000 pages!).  It is such a big book that anything you could possibly imagine is likely to be in its comprehensive index...
Now, Mark Bittman is not a vegetarian, but I think that gives him perspective on how to make similar tasting vegetarian versions of traditional recipes with meat.  Like me, he is an omnivore searching for a more health-conscious and planet-friendly diet while also having an appreciation for food and knowledge about balancing your diet.  This cookbook is incredibly innovative with recipes that span across all ethnicities and includes thorough descriptions and techniques on how to make things like dough, fresh pastas, sushi, etc.  He has endless ideas to really get you motivated to try out some new dishes with sometimes unfamiliar ingredients and most of his recipes are followed by a list of creative variations on that recipe!  

Just to give you some ideas, I opened its pages randomly and put my finger on a few recipes such as:

* Buckwheat Stew with Tofu and Kale
* Japanese Egg Crepes
* Braised Tofu with Eggplant and Shiitakes
* Quinoa and Parsnip Rösti
* Chinese Egg Noodles in Soy Broth
* Bulgur Croquettes with Walnuts
* Seitan and Lentil Loaf

I highly recommend this cookbook!  I would even recommend it to my vegan friends who can test out their "veganizing" skills by using his recipes as a guideline for making vegan adaptations (and he also has lots of vegan versions or recipes already provided).  I am so glad I purchased mine and I think you will be too! 

1 comment: said...

I've seen that book tooted on shows and at bookstores but I tend not to buy cookbooks by people who don't actually eat the diet they sell.

Scott's #1 tip for people trying to eat more ethical and environmentally friendly (aka veg) is "stop looking for meat on your plate."