Simple meatless recipes for great food
Vegetarian cookbook review
Whether you’re a total beginner or an experienced cook, Mark Bittman’s 1,000-page tome How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is stuffed with instructions, tips, recipes, and ideas that will inform and inspire you.
There are short chapters on ingredients, equipment, and techniques, but the vast majority of the book is made up of more than 2,000 recipes and variations, divided into 11 chapters:
- Eggs, dairy, and cheese
- Vegetables and fruits
- Pasta, noodles, and dumplings
- Tofu, vegetable burgers, and other high-protein foods
- Breads, pizzas, sandwiches, and wraps
- Sauces, condiments, herbs, and spices
One of the strengths of this book is the variations given for each recipe. Coconut rice, for example, offers a brief introduction, followed by the list of ingredients and instructions, and then five variations: sweet coconut rice, spicy coconut rice, crunchy coconut rice, coconut rice and beans, and coconut brown rice. Some recipes have 10 or more variations, so you can always find something that fits your personal preferences and current fridge contents.
There are detailed explanations of primary ingredients; in the rice chapter, you can learn the difference between varieties of rice and where to find them; the top 5 rices to keep on hand; how to substitute brown rice for white; and the basics of risotto, fried rice, paella, stuck-pot rice, and sushi, along with numerous recipes in each of these categories. Three recipe symbols are used throughout the book:
- F – Fast (less than 30 minutes)
- M – can Make ahead of time
- V – Vegan
The charts of ingredients and how to use them are particularly useful; for example, Cold Sandwiches list 14 types of bread along with suggested spreads, fillings, and condiments, followed by 13 Hot Sandwiches and 9 Wraps. Just after that, there’s a list of 8 things to have on hand for filling sandwiches as well as 6 tips for preventing soggy sandwiches. The section How to Grill Vegetables offers grilling tips, 25 dishes in which to used grilled veggies, and a 5-page chart explaining how to prepare, flavor, grill, sauce or season, and serve everything from artichokes to zucchini. Dozens of other charts go into equal detail about vegetable purées, nuts and seeds, grains, legumes, oils, herbs, spices, chiles, and turning leftover beans into croquettes.
While there are no photos, there are beautiful line drawings of techniques such as trimming artichokes, rolling and cutting sushi, and making fresh pasta.
This is one of my very favorite cookbooks. I use it all the time and yet I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. To give you some idea of the wealth of information it contains, the index covers 60 pages, 4 columns per page – in a tiny font! If I could only have one cookbook, it would be this one – in fact, during a three-month
period away from home a few years ago, it was.
Buy How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: