Saturday, October 9, 2010
Cookbook review: The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook
Well, if there were ever a cookbook that sounds perfect for me, this is it. The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour ($13.64 at Amazon). You all know of my deep and abiding love for bacon (eclipsed, perhaps, only by my love for my husband), and I can generally find a way to slip bacon or bacon fat into most everything. But we also know I'm not one of those meat-and-three fanatics that has to have a big slab of meat at every meal. I like vegetables, too. So I was pretty excited to peruse this cookbook.
The layout takes some getting used to; it groups vegetarian dishes into groups, suitable for a meal. Example: Beets and Greens Quesadillas + Roasted Red Pepper Soup, or Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili + Skillet Corn Bread, so that the recipes for one meal might flow over several pages. It's a more intuitive layout, but takes some adjustment if you're used to the single recipe-single page format. They're also divided up by season (summer, fall, winter, spring) so you can take advantage of seasonal produce.
Happily, it's got some great recipes and great combinations. I hadn't yet thought to put a chard-lentil filling into shepherd's pie, or beets and greens into quesadillas, or making "crab cakes" out of chickpeas. The recipes are simple and easy to follow, and it's not all tofu and beans like a lot of vegetarian cookbooks. There are also plenty of vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-optional recipes.
"Vegetarian" has gotten a bad rap, mostly because people don't have the slightest idea what to do with most vegetables. Can you identify a rutabaga, a turnip, tell chard from kale from collard from mustard greens, peel an artichoke, cook and serve spaghetti squash? "Vegetarian" usually conjures up two images: the skinny chick who eats nothing but salad, and the fat chick who thinks vegetarian means eating cheese pizza and SpaghettiOs all the time. Either way, most people think cutting out meat means they're suddenly going to have to go hippie, eating a lot of lentil loaf and mung bean sprouts and tofu. It's not true--it is possibly to eat a lot of vegetables and have filling, nutrient- and protein-rich, tasty meals (without ever once eating veggie burgers or tofurkey). I'll never go fully vegetarian, but I am a less-meat-itarian. It's cheaper, it's healthier, it's more creative.
And this cookbook is great for beginner less-meat-itarians.