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Veggie Nation

By Marsha Fottler –

There are about eight million vegetarians in America and all of them are hungry. And that’s not counting flexitarians, who limit their meat intake to only once a or twice week or dieters who avoid meat meals because of high calorie count and seek out tasty vegetarian meals that are less fattening. People who say the are “vegetarian-inclined eaters” make up another 22 million.

That’s a lot of mouths of satisfy on a daily basis, which is why it’s no surprise that the market for useful and imaginative vegetarian cookbooks is growing like unattended zucchini.

A new one that I like very much is The Vegetarian Kitchen Table Cookbook by Igor Brotto and Olivier Guiriec. It contains 275 easy to make recipes that represent an impressive global reach from red curry tofu with shitake mushroom and bamboo shoots to linguine canaletto to pad thai to sweet Moroccan couscous. With this cookbook you can eat vegetarian while sampling cuisines from cultures the whole world over – sophisticated and rustic. Best of all, the ingredients you need are readily available.

The paperback large-format book is convenient to use on the kitchen counter and the recipes are divided up into sections that cover appetizers, salads, small plates, soups, main dishes, sides, and desserts. There is an additional section that talks about condiments and basic ingredients that are essential for a vegetarian pantry. Some of those things include: egg pasta, raspberry vinegar, peanut satay sauce, preserved lemons, squash chips, red pepper coulis and abut a dozen others. Recipes are included for pantry staples. There are encouraging color photographs of many of the dishes throughout the book.

On the left side each recipe page, the authors include a box with tips, prep and cooking time and how much the recipe makes. Nutritional information and calorie count are not included so this book is not aimed at dieters. Happily, the explanations and directions are precise and the recipes are uncomplicated so this book works for the novice vegetarian cook as well as the confident veteran. Here are two recipes to try in April.

 

Tofu Spring Vegetable Stew

Serves 4, prep time 90 minutes, cooking time 30 minutes.

12 carrots, cut into chunks

12 turnips, cut into wedges

12 pearl onions

12 small yellow-flesh potatoes, cut into chunks

20 green beans, cut in half

¾ cup green peas

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic cloves

1 pound semi-firm tofu, cut into cubes

zest and juice of 1 orange

¾ vegetable stock or store-bought broth

¼ cup hoisin sauce

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

 

Place carrots and turnips in a large pot, add cold salted water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Add onions and boil until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and return to pot. Meanwhile, place potatoes in another pot and add cold salted water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add green beans and peas and boil until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well.

Add butter, sugar and a little salt and a generous amount of pepper to carrot mixture. Cook over high heat stirring until browned. (This will caramelize the sugar on the vegetables, giving them a brown glaze.) Remove from heat. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic cloves and cook, stirring until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove garlic and discard, leaving just the oil in the pan. Add tofu to pan and cook stirring until browned, about 5 minutes. Add potato mixture and cook, stirring until hot. Stir in orange zest and juice, vegetable stock and hoisin sauce and bring to a boil, stirring to coat vegetables. Stir in glazed carrot mixture and parsley. Adjust seasoning and serve.

 

French Mushroom Tart

Serves 4, prep time is 35 minutes and cooking time is 20 minutes.

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic minced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped fresh savory leaves

10 ounces puff pastry

5 ounces wild or exotic mushroom, thinly sliced

 

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Meanwhile in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and light golden, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add savory. Let cool. Cut puff pastry dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each out to a circle about ?-inch thick and 4 inches in diameter. Place circles on a baking sheet, at least 1 inch apart and prick dough lightly with a fork. Spread cool onion mixture over dough. Arrange mushrooms on top of dough in a rosette pattern, slightly overlapping. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and lightly brush over mushrooms. Bake in a preheated over for 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake until pastry is crisp and golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Serve the tarts with a green salad.

 

(The Vegetarian Kitchen Table Cookbook by Igor Brotto and Olivier Guiriec. Robert Rose Inc., $24.95)

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