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How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food Hardcover – October 15, 2007
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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.
Recipe Excerpts from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
5 Questions for Mark Bittman
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, there’s 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: It’s 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, I’ve 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 it’s the way to learn to cook; it’s 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--there’s no reason to carry things much further. Even the simplest cooking is rewarding, enjoyable, and--obviously--the healthiest and best way to eat.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Marking how mainstream vegetarian cooking has become, the next must-have for the vegetarian cook's shelf comes from New York Times Minimalist chef Bittman, an avowed meat eater. And that ensures one of this massive compendium's many attractions: a wealth of recipes that don't scream vegetarian and plentiful guidelines to make cooking vegetarian as intuitive as cooking with meat. Like his now classic How to Cook Everything, this book opens with terrifically useful, straightforward discussions of essential ingredients, appliances and techniques, which Bittman builds on throughout in to-the-point sidebars and illustrated boxes. The recipes flow thick and fast in his theme-and-variations style: Green Tea with Udon Noodles is followed by concise instructions for making it 17 different ways, while Coconut Rice gets five additional takes and Kidney Beans with Apples and Sherry four; other lists (six Great Spreads for Bruschetta or Crostini, 10 Garnishes for Pozole with Mole) abound and inspire. New vegetarians and vegetarians cooking for omnivores will appreciate Bittman's avoidance of faux meat products in favor of flavorful high-protein dishes like Braised Tofu in Caramel Sauce and Bechamel Burgers with Nuts. Even owners of the original book will find much new to savor while benefiting from Bittman's remarkable ability to teach foundational skills and encourage innovation with them, which will help even longtime vegetarians freshen their repertory. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm relearning the way I prepare even the most basic things, like sandwiches and scrambled eggs. Who would have thought scrambled eggs could be so good? And the Pan-Grilled steak has weaned me from the backyard grill forever. No other cookbook would warn you that "clouds of smoke will instantly appear; do not turn down the heat." That bit of fear that your fire alarm will go off at any second just adds spice to the whole cooking experience.
The breadth of this book is amazing. Besides having nearly every type of Western cooking you can imagine, it also has recipes from Japan, India, Thailand, and... you get the idea.
There is one drawback -- this book has no photos, just a few hand-drawn illustrations. However, the book is so big that if it did have photos, it would cost much more.
Since I gave that yellow subset a bad review, a kind commentator pointed out that what is a person to do if they are vegetarian, and don't need to know how to make veal parmesan, meatballs, or fried chicken! This volume clearly answers that question.
The competition for this book is Deborah Madison's classic `Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone'. An encyclopedic companion to both would be Crescent Dragonwagon's `Passionate Vegetarian'. If space and finances permit, I would suggest you own all three volumes.
The difference between Bittman and Madison may lie primarily in the fact that the former is a culinary journalist and the latter began her career as a professional chef. So, Bittman has a better eye for communicating to a larger audience while Madison is better on some of the basic truths of cooking. Her discussion of soups and stocks is especially brilliant.
Bittman addresses the largest possible `vegetarian' audience, which includes the most liberal, who consume eggs and milk products. But he is quite effective in identifying for the vegans among you which recipes are free of all animal products, both in icons accompanying each recipe and in a master list of recipes at the back of the book. Eggs are so prominent that the index contains a full page, that's four columns of small print, of entries under egg related recipes. Under cheese recipes, there are two pages, eight columns of fine print of recipes. Bittman explains this in the section on vegetarian substitutions when he gives easy replacements for butter, milk, and cream, but says that virtually nothing can replace eggs and most cheeses in traditional recipes. I am puzzled and grateful that Bittman does not suggest using synthetic lecithin in the place of eggs in recipes. Lecithin does not even appear in the index of this book. This substitutions section also has some really great suggestions for omnivores in the realm of less saturated replacements for butter and flavored butters.
This is a full service cookbook. I am especially impressed by the fact that he starts out in the same way as James Peterson in his recent textbook, `Cooking'. Both begin with a description of `The Ten Essential Cooking Techniques'. Being a teaching book, Peterson's sections on each method are longer, running to three large pages compared to Bittman's two to three paragraphs. But, if you are vegetarian, Bittman's book is still more useful, as much of Peterson's space is dedicated to cooking animal protein. Another interesting contrast to Peterson is that while the teacher uses series of photographs to illustrate techniques, Bittman uses black ink drawings. And, amazingly enough, the latter is generally the more successful technique, as nothing is out of focus and there are never any obscuring shadows, and only the essentials of the technique are depicted.
A common technique in many of Bittman's recipes is to amend each recipe with several variations, as when he suggests five fillings for sweet crepes and six fillings for savory crepes. Hard on this section is '10 Other Ideas for Pancakes' and seven `Pancake Variations'. Bittman also spends much time on teaching us the range of ingredient types, and general ways to handle each type. For example, we get `A Lexicon of Salad Greens'. This material is even more important for the vegetarian, as they need to seek the greatest possible variety of tastes and colors in the vegetable world. A vegetarian salad repertoire which knew nothing beyond iceberg lettuce would be dull indeed. Bittman does better in this area than the salad queen, Alice Waters, in her excellent `The Art of Simple Cooking'.
Bittman's mastery of communication is best represented by his many cross-indexing of recipe types, as he does in a sidebar of lettuce cups and wraps, giving the names and page numbers of fourteen recipes scattered throughout the book which use this technique. The centerpiece of this cross-indexing is the `Recipes by Icon' in the back of the book which tick off those which are `Fast', `Make Ahead', and `Vegan'. A similar feature is the list of forty menus for Breakfasts, Brunches, Lunches, Dinners, and Holiday Dinners. For his vegetarian audience, this is far more useful than for omnivores, who have a far greater choice of protein types.
Every trend in the book is magnified in the excellent chapter on pasta, noodles, and dumplings. Every sidebar seemed to offer not ten, but up to 50 variations on all sorts of stuff. I was momentarily disappointed to find no recipe for making fresh pasta in the first 10 pages of the chapter, but there it was, of page 474 and the following 21 pages. Everything you would need to make fresh pasta, gnocchi, dumplings. It even included the German specialty, Spaetzle, bless his heart. While all the standards are well-represented, some peripheral ingredients such as rhubarb and celeriac get good representation in uncommon recipes. I was especially pleased to find four excellent recipes for my favorite Brussels Sprouts. Even chestnuts get a dozen entries in the index. Madison has nothing on chestnuts!
Bittman's `How to Cook Everything' is always my first stop whenever I want to try a classic dish unfamiliar to me, and I have been invariably pleased with the clarity and results of his recipes. This book continues this trend. Every recipe I read is clear, unfussy, and easy to follow. If you are a vegetarian who permits milk and eggs, this book is a must. If you are a tad stricter, Deborah Madison's classic may be more useful for the money.
On the other hand, some of the recipes really are quite excellent, and even though I'm a more experienced cook than many twenty-going-on-thirty-somethings, I find that the depth of reference information in How to Cook Everything is really outstanding. There are pages and pages on such topics as whether or not to presoak beans, how to shop for fish, and at least one nice basic way to prepare just about every vegetable under the sun. For depth of background and reference, Bittman deserves five stars.
All in all, I would actually say this is a good addition to most kitchens, even for those with more experience than those at which the book is obviously aimed, and if you comb through all the recipes carefully you'll probably find plenty that is worth cooking.