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Wide range of veggie recipes
on 12 December 2011
I am slightly mystified by some of the reviews of this book. It isn't the 'best' or most innovative, exciting vegetarian cook book ever and it doesn't purport to be a vegetarian nutrition guide. That said, there are some nice recipes which are generally very easy & quick to prepare, and don't involve ingredients which wouldn't be found in any decently stocked larder. The recipes also cover a fair range of cooking styles (Italian, Indian, Thai, etc) so there should be something for everyone. Some dishes do rely on cheese or eggs and I don't think I spotted anything involving Quorn or TVP - mercifully in my view as I can't abide either! As with most general cookbooks some dishes are healthier than others.
At this time of year a bowl of warming soup makes a great light supper and there are plenty to choose from including pea, potato & rocket; sweet potato & coconut (very more-ish); pumpkin with olive salsa; curried carrot & lentil; plus some old favourites like bean & pasta soup (although I have enough recipes for that not to need another one). There is a range of starters including sweetcorn and kaffir lime fritters served with a chilli jam, baked figs, & tofu with chilli vinegar dressing. Main courses include a range of rice dishes, pasta in various forms, and curries. I liked the butternut squash, tofu & pea curry and the stir-fried tofu with basil & chilli. Other dishes include onion, pumpkin & sage pie and a simple, light dish of spaghetti with broad beans and lemon (nice now but it will be even better next summer with fresh baby broad beans from the garden).
The salads & sides section is fairly pedestrian although I liked the spiced braised new potatoes, the vegetable tempura, and the char-grilled polenta triangles (made using quick cook polenta so not time-consuming).There is a selection of breads and baked dishes including tarts, pizza, a good potato gratin with pine nut crust, and a simple herb & cheese damper. Finally there is a selection of desserts including poached apricots with pistachio, caramel apple crumble, apple fritters with blackberry sauce, summer berry sorbet, strawberry & lavender crush, orange palmiers with plums, and cherry & cinnamon zabaglione.
All told a useful little book at a bargain price particularly when you consider each recipe is accompanied by a colour photo. A number of recipes suggest variations - most not beyond the ability of even a relatively inexperienced cook to devise. For example, the alternative version of the caramel apple crumble is peach and blueberry so giving the recipe a seasonal variation.