Passionate Vegetarian: More Than 1,000 Robust Recipes With Notes On Cooking, Eating, Loving, And Living Fearlessly is one of those ''bible" type of vegetarian cookbooks that contains so much more than recipes that it is almost an invitation to live, or to live more fully. Almost overwhelming in its 1000 plus pages, it is dauntlessly studded with jewel-like recipes within recipes for special sauces, seasonings, condiments and exotic blends.
Author/creator Crescent Dragonwagon is the famed Vegetarian chef and owner of the former celebrated Bed and Breakfast establishment Dairy Hollow Inn in Eureka, Missouri. Though it is now a writer's retreat, many remember fondly the days of its other operation which saw the evolution of many of the succulent recipes contained in Passionate Vegetarian. I never was lucky enough to be a guest there, but I had a friend who did with her husband and never stopped raving about the place and the food.
Chock full of delicious vegetarian classic recipes, Passionate Vegetarian is that wonderful composite, a cookbook designed to educate. Though you might be looking for, say, the definitive recipe for a garbanzo bean stew, when you arrive at the recipe entitled "Spice-Market Melange of Chickpeas and Cauliflower" in the chapter entitled "A Bountiful Bowl of Beans," you absolutely cannot help reading page after page about "Bean Diversity, ""Beans and Grains," "The Three Sisters (beans, corn and squash)," and more. Divided into fifteen exciting chapters, each crammed with scrumptious recipes and suggestions, Passionate Vegetarian covers all things vegetarian from hors d'oeuvres, to soups, stews, savory cobblers, wraps, beans, soyfoods, savory cakes, burgers and patties, to sauces, salsas and seasonings. And of course the grand finale of Just Desserts contains such gems as Triple-Caress Moch Chocolate Chip Cookies, Hazelnut Biscotti, and Ginger Sorbet. However my absolute favorite new recipe that I tried and fought with my husband over the division of was Roasty-Toasty Jerusalem Artichokes, a simple recipe made with Jerusalem artichokes, vegetable oil, and tamari sauce. Clearly, Chef Dragonwagon is unafraid of simple combinations and doing more with less, as well as complex and palate- teasing adventurous dishes, for which she must be justifiably famous. I really cannot rave enough about this cookbook.
It is a classic, a "must-have", and destined to become a favorite of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. It is all the more enriched by the author's marvelous sense of humour and her willingness to share her history. I am very sorry to learn of the sudden death of her husband Ned November 30, 2000. Passionate Vegetarian stands as a splendid memorial to the rich culinary life they shared as vegetarians.