Vegetarian & Vegan!

Editor’s note: Linda Avery returns with a look at two new books, one vegetarian, one vegan, but she says meat eaters might be pleasantly surprised by the delicious depth of these recipes. Take a look and see what you think. If the two recipes she shares from these books are any indication, I would agree.


Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for any Eater and Every Appetite

by Sarah Copeland
Photographs © 2013 Yunhee Kim

Facts: Chronicle Books, 288 pages, $35.00 (or Amazon Hardcover $22.14, Kindle $13.99)
Photos: about 71
Recipes: 121

Sarah Copeland dubs herself an unlikely vegetarian. Mom and Dad had been raised on farms where the protein of choice was meat and that continued through Sarah upbringing. Over the years she experienced a slow evolution in her diet to eating more salads, veggies, and cheeses, particularly at home.

Then, the man she married was a vegetarian and she found herself thinking that the foods that surrounded the meat were more exciting, and over time there was less and less interest in meat.

Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for any Eater and Every Appetite begins with Copeland’s explanation of the vegetarian larder—a discussion of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and spices, and allows for dairy and even fish (pescatarian) as well. In addition, she notes what is essential for an Asian larder and how to store certain items. Most importantly, there is a discussion on nutrition, i.e., sources for plant-based iron and Omega-3s,  plus seafood sources for Omega-3s.

The nine chapters are nicely varied beginning with recipes for Breakfast & Brunch and ending with Pickles, Sauces & Such (I asked myself “why didn’t she end with Sweets?” and then wondered where would the pickles go?). In the middle are chapters dubbed Little Meals, Meals in a Bowl and Platefuls, among others. And, she does a neat thing in each chapter: one recipe is presented with four seasonal swaps. Take Caprese for example: Spring = Pea Mash with Burrata and Mint; Summer = Heirloom Tomatoes with Burrata; Fall = Beets and Ricotta; Winter = Lentils and Mozzarella.

The final chapters Prep School, Essential Tools, and Sources round out the book nicely.

This polenta dish is perfect for a stick-to-your-ribs winter choice.


Polenta With Winter Salad, Poached Egg, And Blue Cheese

Photo © 2013 Yunhee Kim

Serves 4

3 1/2 cups/840 ml water
1 cup/140 g polenta
Sea salt
1 1/4 cups/300 ml whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce/30 g cheddar or Dubliner cheese, grated
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 small head radicchio, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 head frisée, torn into bite-size pieces
Dash white or regular balsamic vinegar
4 large eggs, poached
1 to 2 ounces/30 to 55 g Danish blue, Roquefort, Valdeon blue, or Gorgonzola cheese

1. Bring 3 cups/720 ml of the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly add the polenta, stir with a wooden spoon, and add 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is tender and fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Add the milk, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the cheddar to the polenta and stir together over medium-low heat until just warmed through and soft enough to drop easily from a spoon, a few minutes more. Cover to keep warm.

2. Heat the olive oil in your largest skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are charred and have burst, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the radicchio and frisée and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, the remaining ½ cup/120 ml water, and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and toss together.

3. Spoon the polenta into bowls and top with the salad and poached eggs. Crumble the blue cheese over the top before serving.

One-Dish Vegan

by Robin Robertson

Facts: Harvard Common Press, 208 pages, $35.00 (or Amazon Hardcover $16.95, Kindle $9.99)
Recipes: 152

Robin Robertson has over twenty cookbooks to her credit and, I must say, an absolutely lovely website. (I will admit to being affectionately dubbed a “webmistress,”  so I look with a critical eye at websites, and Robertson’s has a clean look with great images. The simplicity punctuates the one word message she wants to send – VEGAN!)

One-Dish Vegan is an update of One-Dish Vegetarian Meals released in 2007. The changes in this book include recipes that use less oil, many low-fat, more whole grain recipes and gluten-free/soy-free notations. If the recipe isn’t gluten-free, she notes how it can be made so.

A nice variety of recipes are grouped in eight chapters such as Soups That Make a Meal, Main Dish Salads, Stovetop Simmers and Stews, Sautés, Oven to Table…

Some that caught my eye are Lebanese Bread Salad with Chickpeas, Minestrone with Cannellini Beans and Rice, Beer Chaser Chili (there are 19 chili recipes), Tempeh and Eggplant Moussaka, and Southwestern Mac and Queso.

I love headnotes and Robertson uses them to hint at what’s to come – “fragrant Basmati rice lends an extra touch of sweetness”; – or to instruct – “Soba can be tricky to cook…  to solve this…” – or to teach, as you’ll read in this Vegetable Étouffée recipe.

Vegetable Étouffée

Serves 4

There are many variations on the classic Cajun stew called étouffée which translates from the French as “smothered” and is usually made with crawfish or shrimp. This brimming-with-vegetables version still has that great New Orleans taste because it’s based on a dark roux, the traditional butter-and-flour thickener (although olive oil stands in for butter here), and the famous Cajun “trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper. The ingredient list may seem long, but this stew cooks in only 30 minutes. Traditionally, this is a “serve over rice” dish.

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 medium-size zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups cooked dark red kidney beans or 1 (15.5-ounce) can dark red kidney
beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon filé powder
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
Hot pepper sauce (optional)
Cooked brown rice, for serving

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until it brown, 3 to 5 minutes; watch carefully so it does not burn. Transfer the flour to a small plate and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the browned flour, stirring to coat the vegetables. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, scallions, thyme, filé powder, bay leaf, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add the parsley, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a splash of hot pepper sauce if desired. Serve hot over rice.

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