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Not just for vegans/vegetarians
on August 8, 2013
This book was given to me for my review.
The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen is an excellent cookbook for both the comfort food, home cook and the gourmet. I am not vegan or vegetarian at this time, but it doesn't matter because the recipes are tasty for all palates. Katzen begins the cookbook with pantry tips and goes into the expected soups and salads. Her section on salads is especially thorough, and most of them are hearty enough to use as a main course. Katzen provides many tips and tricks on serving ideas and small add-ins to enhance the meals.
I loved the section on Cozy Mashes because autumn is fast approaching (oh, please, God), and I simply love mashes as a side or even as a main dish. Her repertoire is extensive, from beans to root vegetables to avocados and more. After mashes, she covers grains, providing a lot of variety from many different countries (the Spiced Basmati Pilaf with Nuts and Raisins is lovely), and I am especially happy to see several new risotto recipes I have never tried. I could live off of risotto, if I did not have to watch the carbs. Some recipes are longer and more detailed, but others are quicker and easier. Her directions are detailed, but the reader needs to know that that does not always mean that the recipe is really difficult. I think Katzen has done a credible job of making sure the book is user friendly for all cooking levels.
I am especially excited about some recipes in her Pasta and Asian Noodles section that are takes on "lasagna". While Katzen usually uses noodles, I can adapt these recipes to use eggplant or squash and still have a very yummy finished dish for my carb sensitive body. She has given me new ideas for adapting and combining ingredients. Her section, Suppers in the Oven, has pizza, Cauliflower quiches, a frittata, a vegetable gratin, and more. There is a section on Burgers and Savory Pancakes, and there is a section on Vegetables....I guess for those dishes that did not fit anywhere else. The Heart of the Plate is FULL of vegetables, so any one of her recipes would probably make any vegetable pushing mom happy.
A nice surprise at the end of Katzen's book is the extensive section on Sauces, Vinagrettes, and Toppings, and Other Meaningful Touches. It is a nice way to take plain vegetables or starches and dress them up. If you have never tried the Crispy Sage Leaves, do. They are delicious and great tossed with steamed or sauteed vegetables or even a buttered pasta. The dessert section was short, but Katzen included some very decadent looking staples. The Bittersweet Mocha Bundt Cake is top of my list for company.
Most recipes in this book can easily be made gluten free and others I may have to tinker with. As someone who must eat gluten free, I appreciated that most of Katzen's recipes can EASILY be adapted to my lifestyle, and that makes this a real all around winner for this omnivore, gluten sensitive family.