Contributed by: Mark Bittman of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Author of a dozen bestselling cookbooks and beloved columnist for The New York Times ("The Minimalist"), Chef Mark Bittman bookends his award-winning modern classic, How to Cook Everything, with How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian the ultimate one-stop resource for meatless meals. Refreshingly straightforward and filled with illustrated recipes, this is a book that puts vegetarian cuisine within the reach of every home cook. You'll want to spend countless days in the kitchen with Bittman's latest culinary treasure.
Q: What motivated you to write a comprehensive cookbook of vegetarian recipes right now?
A: What motivated me--several years ago--was seeing the handwriting on the wall: That although being a principled, all-or-nothing vegetarian was not a course of action that would ever likely inspire the majority of Americans, the days of all-meat-all-the-time (or, to be slightly less extreme, of a diet heavily dependent on meat) could not go on. Averaging a consumption of two pounds a week or more of meat (as Americans do) is not sustainable, either for the earth or our planet. And, as more and more of us realize this, I thought it was important to develop a cookbook along the lines of How to Cook Everything, but without meat, fish, or poultry. Needless to say, thereís plenty of material.
Q: In the course of writing How to Cook Everything Vegetarian did your approach to food shopping, cooking or dining change significantly?
A: Completely. The more I tried new ways of cooking with vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, the more I enjoyed them. I probably eat sixty or seventy percent fewer animal products than I did three years ago.
Q: Because meatless cooking isn't limited to a single cuisine, your recipes introduce the flavors and techniques of many different cultures and cuisines. How did you manage to cover so much ground? Seems like a daunting task.
A: Itís what I do.
Q: Out of the more than 2,000 recipes in the cookbook do you have a favorite dish or dessert that you turn to again and again?
A: No. There are hundreds I wish I could cook all the time, but one can only cook and eat so much. But in the last week, for example, Iíve made Fava Bean and Mint Salad with Asparagus; Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes; Cornbread Salad; and Red Lentils with Chaat Masala.
Q: Why is simplicity so important in cooking? What does the novice home cook need to know to cook and eat well?
A: Simplicity is only important because itís the way to learn to cook; itís very difficult to start cooking with complex dishes. For people to learn to cook, they must start simply--the way everyone used to cook. And, for most of us--including me--thereís no reason to carry things much further. Even the simplest cooking is rewarding, enjoyable, and--obviously--the healthiest and best way to eat.
An Exclusive Recipe from Mark Bittman
Here's a new twist on the traditional guacamole (which you can find in the form of the first variation). The fresh corn kernels add texture and flavor without taking away from that of the avocado.
Time: 15 minutes
Grate the lime zest (or use a zester to make long strands) and reserve; cut the lime into wedges. Put the lime zest, corn, and garlic in a food processor; squeeze in half of the lime wedges and pulse to make a chunky purťe.
Put the corn mixture along with the scallion, chile, and a large pinch of salt into a medium bowl and mash until the mixture is well combined. Add the cilantro and pumpkin seeds and mash a few more times.
Cut the avocados in half and reserve the pits if you will not be serving the guacamole right away. Scoop the flesh into the bowl and mash, leaving a few chunks of avocado. Squeeze in lime juice from the reserved lime wedges to taste.
Season with salt to taste and serve or tuck the pits back into the mixture and cover the surface with plastic wrap (this will help keep the guacamole from turning brown), then refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Remove the pits before serving.
Minimalist Guacamole More traditional: Omit the corn kernels and pumpkin seeds. Add the zest and garlic to the scallion in Step 2 and proceed with the recipe.
Guacamole with Tomatillos. The tomatillos add a nice hit of acidity: Substitute 1/2 cup chopped tomatillo for the corn and pumpkins seeds if you like. Skip Step 1 and add the tomatillos to Step 2.
Avocado and Goat Cheese Spread or Dip. Spread this on bread and layer with grilled vegetables for a fantastic sandwich: Omit the garlic, chile, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds. Substitute lemon for the lime and 3/4 cup goat cheese for the corn. Put everything in a food processor if you want a smooth spread; for a chunkier spread, just use a potato masher or fork.
Pea Spread or Dip. Great on Crostini: Instead of the corn and the avocados, use 1 pound lightly steamed fresh or frozen peas. Omit the chile and pumpkin seeds. Use lemon instead of lime and process all the peas as you would the corn in Step 1. Substitute fresh mint leaves for the cilantro. If you like, thin the consistency a bit by adding a little cream, yogurt, or silken tofu.
Asparagus Spread or Dip. A great low-calorie alternative to traditional guacamole: Follow the variation for Pea Spread or Dip, but use 1 pound lightly steamed asparagus instead of the peas. Pat it dry, slice it into manageable pieces, and proceed with the recipe.
Serving Size: Makes 4 Servings
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