Meatless Meals Marathon:
Vegetarians Never Had It So Good!

Also see Vegetarian Cookbook Roundup


Over the years vegetarian cooking has been elevated to a new culinary art. No longer do we think of it as merely brown rice and beans, or tofu and sprouts. Spectacularly savory and tantalizing dishes are being designed by leading restaurant chefs and cookbook authors. At the same time, the national trend to reduce protein and cholesterol and increase grains and vegetables in our diets have many carnivores turning to meatless meats on a regular basis, without becoming full-fledged vegetarians themselves.

Today's publishers recognize that vegetarian cookbooks are big business. In 1982, Mollie Katzen paved the way for today's new breed of vegetarian cooking with her charmingly hand-written book, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest—which was recently re-released by Ten Speed Press to celebrate its over 1 million copies in print. Deborah Madison made her mark as the chef at San Francisco's famous Greens Restaurant, then followed up with her prize-winning bestsellers The Greens Cookbook and The Savory Way. Her latest book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, contains 1400 recipes, and a few selections from it are included below.

Every few months I reorganize my cookbook shelves of current or semi-current releases. I have one bookcase that is devoted entirely to international cookbooks, by far the largest category when Asian, Italian, and other global cookbooks are grouped together. Elsewhere in the stacks, vegetarian and low-fat/healthy cookbooks share a bookcase, since they often overlap in content, but this past year the vegetarian cookbooks took on their own pastiche of sub-topics. Gone are the slender volumes introducing us to Vegetarianism 101. Instead, we have hefty, definitive tomes like Diana Shaw's awesome Essential Vegetarian Cookbook (Clarkson Potter) with some 600 pages that treat vegetarianism as a true cuisine. Or, as we present here, vegetarian cookbooks that narrow their focus on particular types of fare. Last year, Darra Goldstein gave us The Vegetarian Hearth: Recipes and Reflections for the Cold Season (HarperCollins), and this year we see a whole new variety of such creative sub-themes in the vegetarian genre.

country kitchen

One of my rules-of-thumb when evaluating a recipe is to ask myself, "Would you serve it to an important guest?" This applies to my own recipes as well as others. In the cookbooks that follow, I can safely say, "Yes, I would invite anyone to my table for these meals." I believe you should be able to try a recipe for yourself before determining whether to buy the book. Included herein, then, are selections from five recent (1996) vegetarian cookbooks, whose perspective ranges from Thai to Low-Fat. The publishers' press releases are included with each book, but it's the recipes we expect you to evaluate. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding—and the soup, and the curry, and the enchiladas, and the...

Kate Heyhoe

Vegetarian Cookbooks

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison
Vegetarian Planet, by Didi Emmons
1,001 Healthy Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes, by Sue Spitler
Real Vegetarian Thai, by Nancie McDermott
The Vegetarian Table Series: Thailand, by Jacki Passmore

Also see Vegetarian Cookbook Roundup

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