The Must Have Vegetarian Cookbook

March 30, 2011

Whether you are a vegetarian or just love veggies, Mark Bittman’s culinary bible, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, will introduce you to a whole new list of ingredients and cooking methods! What differentiates this vegetarian cookbook from others is that Bittman treats vegetarian food like a cuisine, rather than a series of meat-free substitutions. His cookbook presents ingredients that lend themselves to vegetarian cooking, such as chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa, and he demonstrates how to use them in a range of ways. Take nuts, for example. Bittman devotes an entire section to the lexicon of nuts and seeds and then offers various ways to season and cook with them - a favorite being his caramelized spiced nuts recipe!

With over 900 pages of cooking tips and recipes, it's difficult to know where to begin. So, let's just delve into this meat-free world with some favorite springtime recipes listed below.

1. Whole Grain Bread Salad: According to Bittman, this salad is like stuffing, only fresher and brighter. You can use dried or fresh figs and dates here. Makes for a great lunch with a slice of strong cheese on the side or served alongside any frittata or omelet.

2. Baked Mushroom Crepes: In addition to this recipe, Bittman outlines more than 10 different fillings for both sweet and savory crepes, including chocolate, coconut, and even garlic variations, along with step-by-step directions on how to make them.

3. Simplest Asparagus Gratin: When asparagus is in season, this recipe is on the menu. For better flavor, try using the smaller asparagus. Other tasty gratin recipes from the book: roasted beets and goat cheese gratin and potatoes and manchego gratin.

4. Creamy Nut Sauce with Arugula: This salad has a nice balance between the fat in the nuts and the peppery, fresh flavor of the arugula. The book also provides four optional additions to the nut sauce, such as grated cheese, fresh mint, chopped thyme, or you can even add some chopped hard-cooked eggs and make a meal out of it.

5. Beet and Avocado Salad: This is a simple recipe for making an avocado salad to serve alongside your main dish. You can dress it with a lemon vinaigrette, or as Bittman also suggests, a creamy yogurt sauce. Hungry for more?! Then, definitely get yourself a copy.