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Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Recipes That Make a Meal Paperback – April 7, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Recipe from Marie Simmons's Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Toasted Quinoa, Corn and Avocado Salad

"Of all the meals I enjoy cooking, soup is my favorite," Marie says, "Soup-making techniques are not etched in stone. The experience can be fluid, generous and spontaneous. You can follow a recipe or not."

Here are some quick tips to get you started:

A large (5- to 8-quart capacity) wide pot with two opposing handles, often called a Dutch oven, works best for soup.
The fresher the ingredients, the better the soup. Relegate limp and tired vegetables to the compost bin.
If you have a mishap and the vegetables turn black, throw them out. All the spices in the world can’t mask burned vegetables. Take a deep breath and start over.
Warm spices in olive oil over low heat, 1 to 2 minutes, perhaps with the garlic, if using. Warmed, lightly toasted spices release their flavor and add a full, complex taste to the soup.
Dried herbs are twice as strong as their fresh counterparts and should be used sparingly. Add them to the hot broth or other liquid, where they will slowly rehydrate.
Add fresh herbs at the end of the cooking time so they retain their bright, fresh taste. Stir half of them into the soup and use the remainder to sprinkle on top as a garnish.
If your soup is a little blah, it may simply need a squirt of fresh lemon or lime juice, an extra shower of finely chopped herb, a drizzle of olive oil or a swirl of yogurt.

Tips for pureed soups:

Pureeing is a snap with a lightweight handheld immersion blender. This handy tool allows you to puree the soup directly in the pot, eliminating the need to transfer the soup back and forth and saving messy cleanup.
Cool the soup slightly before pureeing in a blender or food processor. A boiling hot soup can expand and spill over dangerously. Be careful not to overfill. If the soup is warm, hold the lid down with a folded towel.
An old-fashioned food mill will remove seeds and skins and produce a thicker-textured soup than a blender.


Carrots and sweet potatoes make for sweet silkiness in this smooth, creamy, dairy-free soup. Hefty additions of fresh ginger and jalapeño contribute the right hit of heat and create a sophisticated flavor profile. To keep the juicy crunch of the bok choy, add it just before serving.

Cook Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound carrots, sliced (½ inch), about 3 cups
1 pound sweet potatoes, scrubbed, skins left on and cubed (½ inch), about 3 cups
1 pound carrots, sliced (½ inch), about 3 cups
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), sliced (about 1 cup)
½ cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
Coarse salt
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper, or to taste
6 ounces baby bok choy, stem ends trimmed and sliced (½ inch), about 2 cups lightly packed

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot until it is hot enough to sizzle a piece of vegetable. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, scallions, celery, garlic, ginger and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until lightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Ladle out about 2 cups of the solid vegetables and set aside. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. If you don’t have an immersion blender, let the soup cool slightly, transfer it to a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot.

3. Add the reserved vegetables, lime juice and jalapeño. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Bring the soup to a boil. Stir in the bok choy and cook for 30 seconds. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.


If you can find real baby carrots, use them. Leave the thin skins on and cut the carrots into 1½-inch pieces. Instead of peeling the sweet potatoes, scrub them with a stiff brush. Their skins soften when cooked.


The nutty taste and irresistible crunch of toasted quinoa make it a natural for a refreshing, yet hearty, main-dish salad. Here I dress it with a favorite dressing of toasted ground cumin and lots of lime juice.

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side dish


1 1–2 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon mild-flavored olive oil or other vegetable oil

For the Jalapeño Dressing

2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 tablespoons mild-flavored olive oil or other vegetable oil
½ cup fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper, plus more to taste
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1 cup diced (½ inch firm, ripe plum tomatoes
½ cup thin-sliced (¼ inch) scallions (white and green parts)
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced (½ inch)
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water for at least 45 seconds. Shake the strainer to remove as much water as possible.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the rinsed quinoa and cook, stirring, over medium heat until it is a light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and appears to be uncoiling, 18 to 20 minutes. Let stand, covered, until cool, about 10 minutes.

3. To make the dressing: Sprinkle the cumin in a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker in color, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. When the skillet is cool to the touch, add the oil, lime juice, jalapeño, garlic and salt. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk to blend.

4. Add the cooled quinoa, corn, tomatoes and scallions to the dressing and toss to blend. Spoon the salad onto a large platter and sprinkle the avocado and cilantro on top.


You can toast a large batch of quinoa ahead of time. Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container. It will keep for 3 or more months. Use in main dishes, side dishes or other salads.

Make a Meal

Serve with Tomato and Mint Salad or with a platter of thick-sliced tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt.


"Recipes do live up to the book's title...definitely appealing, and a notch or two more interesting and sophisticated than standard vegetarian fare...a practical resource for those who want to add more easy meatless options to their repertoire."

Publishers Weekly

"Marie Simmons consistently and quietly works her magic without fuss or fanfare. Put yourselves in her capable hands, and all will go well in your kitchen, meal after delicious meal."

—Mollie Katzen, author Moosewood Cookbook

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547368917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547368917
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. D. Fischer VINE VOICE on May 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For the most part, author Marie Simmons avoids my pet peeve with some vegetarian cookbooks: an over-reliance on carbs or on meat substitutes. There is a chapter of meals based on breads and a fair number of the other recipes include grains or potatoes, but many are vegetable and/or bean-based. Many of the recipes are vegan (or could be if cheese is omitted).

As you can see from the list of recipes (below), there are a fair number of ethnic dishes from curries to quesadillas. My pantry is definitely lacking several of the ingredients the author uses (such as Bhutanese red rice, buckwheat, and tamari), but the international section of slightly upscale grocery stores (such as Harris Teeter, Wegmans or Whole Foods) should have most, if not all, of them. The author provides a page of mail-order sources for hard-to-find ingredients (or for cooks without access to a well-stocked grocery store).

Each recipe includes a brief introduction and suggestions about how to make it a meal by combining it with one or two of other dishes in the book. For example, the author suggests serving the Soba Noodle Salad with Snow Peas alongside either of the shredded Tuscan kale salads or Miso Soup with Spinach, Curried Tofu and Shiitake. Possible substitutions include replacing the snow peas with asparagus, sugar snap peas or green beans as well as replacing the sesame seeds used as a garnish with peanuts, almonds or other nuts. The author sometimes suggests how to tweak the recipe of a recommended side dish to better complement the pair.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As someone who has been cooking for decades, and typically doesn't use recipes, except for inspiration, I know how rare it is to find a truly inspirational cookbook. Fresh & Fast Vegetarian is not only inspirational, it's fun.
There are a slew of recipes that made me want to run to my kitchen and experiment. Marie's book is full of creative riffs on quinoa, farro, Israeli couscous, and a host of other great grains.
Almost every concept is tantalizing. Just imagine making Red Quinoa with Scrambled Eggs, Asparagus, and Tamari Almonds, Pan-Braised Beets with Pistachio Pesto, or Curried Corn with Sugar Snap Peas and Mint. Her Krispy Kale recipe looks as if it will be a staple in my repertoire, as will the Israeli Couscous with Caramelized Cabbage and Oven Roasted Leeks with Orange and Thyme.
Her section on spreads was marvelous.
If you are tired of the same old vegetarian fare, try this book. The recipes are not only inventive, but they will be visually appealing, as well.
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1. Roasted tomato soup with avocado
2. Tomato & potato salad with dill dressing
3. Multi-mushroom pate
4. Twice baked potatoes with roasted pablano and queso fresco
5. Broiled eggplant towers with tomato, pesto & mozzarella

Vegetable dishes and up to full vegetable meals are experiments of trial and error for us. One glance through Marie Simmons recipes in "fresh & fast vegetarian" was interesting. Choosing and using the recipes was far more rewarding.

As indiscriminate omnivores, vegan meals are not especially appealing to us (me). For the vegan, there are recipe variations to replace eggs and dairy. As a fresh vegetable cook book, this may be the best we've discovered. The 5 dishes listed are my non-ordered listing of favorites. The only criticism comes from my better half ... calorie counts are not provided. For me, veggie calories are irrelevant.

Bon appetit!
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Tonight I made Roasted Sweet Potatoes with a Black Bean Chili on top - garnished with cilantro, avocado and sour cream (the recipe called for plain yogurt) This was a home run! Each recipe has suggestions on what to serve with it (I LOVE THAT FEATURE) - I made a cabbage, pineapple and peanut salad with fresh cilantro. That was amazing! I could not believe that I made this meal. I never had fresh ingredients as a kid and that carried into my adulthood. I'm just now exploring these tastes and way of cooking. The flavors work so well together, that I can't wait to try more!! I bought this book because I was looking for a book on nutrition and I saw this cookbook had 15 five star reviews. Nothing lower. So I had to give it a try. They were right! There is an excellent section in the front of the book of favorite ingredients. This taught me how to store fresh herbs. In the back of the book are some internet links to some special spices. I checked the cost of these ingredients between the websites listed and Amazon and I found they were both pretty high. I went to retailmenot.com to find a website with a promotion for spices. I found a more affordable place. I would name that site, but I haven't received the items yet. Thank you Marie Simmons... I love your cookbook.
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Format: Paperback
I generally don't follow recipes. Or, if I do, I go online and I hunt for the *exactly perfect recipe* for whatever it is I want to make but need help constructing. Then I usually overhaul the recipe while I'm cooking anyway. I just don't like recipes much -- I suppose they're too confining. Generally, when I cook with a cookbook, I do so with a pen handy to scribble my recipe "corrections" into the margins as I go.

One of the first recipes I made from this cookbook turned out a bit too oily, so I dug out my trusty cookbook pen to make a margin notation. But, wouldn't you know -- turns out that the amount I was GOING to write into the margin WAS the actual amount in the recipe -- I had misread it while cooking. "Aha!" I cried as I put away my pen. "I should have known that Marie wouldn't let me down!" And it's true! This cookbook is the first one I've ever used that does not need any help. Not a bit. Not one little eensy half-teaspoon of anything, added or subtracted. The recipes are consistently perfect: well-balanced in flavor and substance, full of interesting textures and colors, rich with nutrients, and delicious. Marie Simmons, I am your ardent disciple.
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