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3.6 out of 5 stars178
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 October 2011
some vegetarian cookbooks have an evangelical feel, not this one its a good read, with interesting recipes and a very interesting view point, one which seems to taken up more and more. You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy eating vegetarian!!!
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on 6 March 2013
It is always difficult to get a recipe book which is suitable for the environment where one lives. Sometimes, the recipe looks delicious but the ingredients are expensive becuase of geographical location
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on 14 May 2011
I thought that vegetarian was without meat. Or did I never understood what vegetarian is? I can also make a lovely 'vegetarian' risotto with chicken broth.
Just to inform you: this book contains recipes with meat.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 December 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Disappointing! I'm not a thoroughbred vegetarian myself but meat-free cuisine makes up the majority of my diet. I already have several inspiring books on vegetarian cookery including an old favourite from Linda McCartney (Linda McCartney's World of Vegetarian Cooking: Over 200 Meat-Free Dishes from Around the World) that keeps resurfacing whenever we want some good ideas. Even Delia Smith's book (Delia's Vegetarian Collection) - while a bit cheese-orientated - has plenty of dishes I'd happily eat or serve to others.

However this is a vegetarian book that just doesn't seem to care about vegetarian cuisine - and in fact is pretty scathing of vegetarianism in general. The photos look like they've come straight out of one of the fading recipe books in my mum's 70's kitchen. Many of the recipes are mere filler that hardly merit an explanation to even the least confident cooks; others just seem dull. I expect there are some worthy contenders hidden within but the first rule of a cookery book is to inspire. Most modern cookery book authors (or at least their publishers) realise that we eat with our eyes first of all. If it fails at that hurdle it will be consigned to the shelf or, more likely, find its way to festering in a charity shop. People will buy this book - the author is well known; the cover looks smart; and everyone knows a vegetarian or two to give this to.

But I very much doubt it will sell well to anyone already committed to vegetarianism - especially with the chicken broth faux-pas - or anyone who's able to discern whether a book has potential to put interesting dishes on the table. There are worse out there, of course, and with persistence you could find something worth cooking. But at £20 rrp I'd expect something a lot more interesting than this.
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on 10 December 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have been a vegetarian for over eight years now, and am always on the look out for new recipes to try. I was delighted to see a new cookbook on the market that appeared to offer something different from the other vegetarian cookbooks. Other reviewers have already mentioned the unnecessary and insulting inclusion of chicken stock, so I will resist the temptation to get on my soapbox.

Well it is beautifully presented hard back book, divided into sections where foods are paired up such as courgette & marrow or carrots and parsnips. Pastas, rice, pulses and herbs also have sections. Each section has an introduction before going into the recipe, although sometimes there are only one or two recipes in each section, so it seems a bit padded to have the introductions. Personally I don't usually read the section intros, I bought the book for its recipes and not for any waffle (and what I have read appears to be quite pretentious waffle). Saying that, there are a good number of recipes so I was bound to find loads of stuff to make wasn't I? Well, not quite. For me a good cookbook needs `browseability'. As I flick though I want to be attracted and inspired by lovely colour photos. This book had an inadequate number of photos and they weren't particularly inspirational. In addition as I scan the pages during my browsing I want to see a rough guide to the time involved to make each dish but this is not indicated - you need to read the recipe in detail to discover the cooking time and need to estimate the preparation time. Also, sometimes the ingredients list is quite lengthy and I also find this off-putting. When I try a new cookery book I like to get a feel for it through the simpler recipes first, before I attempt the more challenging ones. Initially I want the decision of what to make to jump out and grab me.
I have, so far, made two recipes from the book: mushroom cannelloni and a pearl barley pilaf with Provencal vegetables. Both turned out to be absolutely delicious, and have made me reconsider that maybe Hopkinson does know what he is talking about after all (although all my stock was veggie!). However both recipes were unnecessary complicated in parts but I was able to adapt them sufficiently to not make too much extra work for myself.

Some of the recipes in the book left me unsure what to do them for - they didn't seem to be main courses or starters but sort of in-between or side dishes, so I am unsure as to when I would actually make them. However I did like that the recipes were often quoting serving sizes of 2-4 people rather than some books who assume that you cater for a six to eight person dinner party every night.

I would say that 85-90% of all ingredients are readily available, there doesn't seem to be anything too obscure, although there are some things you may buy and not use again but that is an individual thing. I would only recommend this book to a confident cook looking for a different way to serve vegetables. I think the recipes are too complicated for a beginner cook who may find themselves out of their comfort zone as instructions can be vague and in some case the described procedure rather unnecessary.

Also, I would re-name the book if I was Hopkinson - the title is misleading and really the book gives you recipes for vegetable based dishes, not vegetarian cuisine.
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VINE VOICEon 3 November 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is written from the point of view of a student who shares cooking in their flat, so each of us puts in a lot of effort once a week, and so I got to try some of the stuff from here.

Simon Hopkinson's `The Vegetarian Option' takes a different approach to what I'm used to; he pairs up various ingredients and suggests dishes based around this. This might be lettuce & cucumber, or more interesting chicory & watercress. This restricts him a bit, but restrictions often lead to invention and there are some things I hadn't considered before (cheesy crumbed parsnips? I always thought they were too sweet, but it works!)
You get 160 or so pages of vegetable & herb dishes, & 20 of pulses, pastas & grains. Several of the veg dishes include grains or dairy for protein, but many don't. This gives you good ideas for side dishes or half a meal that you can throw some beans or something into.

There are some tasty ideas I hadn't considered (apple in curry cream dressing and the parsnips I mentioned). The descriptions follow a traditional cook book style and are generally easy to follow; even for me. However, I wish all cookbooks would include a little estimate for prep & cooking time, this is another one that doesn't! Grrr.
It features a handful of basics like macaroni cheese, and a few others I would consider doing more regularly. However, a lot of the recipes seem like novelties or very effort intensive.

I think that's a good summary of the book; very little stands out as brilliant or regularly do-able, but there are some interesting ways to spice up vegetarian cooking and some good ways to make those side dishes of beans and veg interesting. However, I wouldn't want to rely on this for a lot of my cooking. It's a novelty book - if you're an avid cook and like having a big collection, then you'll probably be happy with this. If you're willing to put in a bit of extra time now and then you'll find some interesting stuff in here, but it probably won't be worth the cash. If you just want a handful of books to guide you through veg cooking, I wouldn't recommend this - there are other, more comprehensive ones out there.

Also, be warned that there is a suggestion for chicken stock; which will offend some vegetarians. However, that's one page in over 200 of recipes & he includes vegetable stock too, so get over it!
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't have any of Simon Hopkinson's other books, but as an enthusiastic foodie his work has been on my radar for some time due to the awards and praise which have been lavished on him by those in the know. So I had extremely high hopes for this book. When it arrived, I settled down on the settee with a drink and read it cover to cover. And if that sounds like praise, it's not. I kept reading in hopes that I would find something to inspire me, but I never did. I found the recipes looked fine, if not particularly interesting, the organisation (by vegetable, but with only a couple of recipes allocated to each) odd, and the writing below par. Hopkinson comes across as pretentious and unlikeable to this reviewer. But more to the point, his writing lacks the fire that makes me want to cook. None of the recipes here had me rushing for the kitchen, in contrast to writers like the truly inspiring Nigel Slater or indeed even the more recently arrived "Supper for a Song" by Tamasin Day-Lewis. And for me, that more than anything is what makes a great cookery writer. I may not follow your recipes to the letter, I may never cook anything from your book, but do you convey enough enthusiasm to inspire me to have a go at cooking something? Hopkinson simply does not, and I will not be purchasing any of his future books.

In the interests of fairness I felt I should try a couple of recipes from this book before reviewing. I chose one that had looked perhaps the most appealing - Pumpkin Soup 'Paul Bocuse'. Basically this is a hollowed out pumpkin roasted with garlic infused seasoned cream and Gruyere inside. It is eaten by ladling out the broth and digging chunks of roasted pumpkin flesh into each serving. I stuck closer to Paul Bocuse's original recipe, also given here, and added croutons to mine. Final result was a delicious rich garlic-y, cheesey cream with chunks of rather stringy pumpkin flesh that added little to the affair. This would look impressive at a dinner party but I'm not convinced it's a fantastic recipe all told, you'd probably be better off just doing dauphinois potatoes. For the second experiment I chose a recipe that sounded simple, tasty, and similar to something I already make from time to time: Carrot Salad with Coriander and Green Chilli. This was more successful, the flavours bright and zingy and very moreish. However, at the end of the day it *is* just a carrot salad with spices and a well balanced, sweet-sharp dressing. Hardly the sort of thing to set the world alight. But at least I tried, and can now put any lingering doubts about this acclaimed author to rest in my own mind at least.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having been vegetarian since the age of 10, and dragged myself away from processed food years ago, I am always excited to get my hands on a new veggie recipe book. I was disappointed with this one, and found it rather insubstantial. Like a lot of other people, when I come home from work I'm tired and hungry and just finding the time to cook anything at all from fresh ingredients is a triumph of will and effort over the temptation to get something out of the freezer and wait 30 minutes for it to cook.

Over 220 pages, I managed to find only a dozen or so recipes for easy to prepare, substantial meals, in fairness all of which are imaginative, well thought out and delicious. There's a wonderful variation on cauliflower cheese, as well as potato cakes with swede, garlic and tomato quiche, and the utterly gorgeous potato pie with Beaufort cheese. Not to mention some scrummy desserts, including blueberry pie and raspberry crumble.

The rest of the book contains less substantial, more time consuming food which is more suitable for a dinner party when you would expect to spend a lot of time preparing food and might want to try and impress guests with unusual meals. There are some very unappestising dinner party recipes here, such as spinach mousse, buttered cucumber with mustard, and asparagus custard, and I can't imagine cooking any of this for friends I wanted to keep.

I've given the book three stars because I think it doesn't quite have the right balance between easy, everyday healthy meals and the more faffy, party type foods - it leans heavily towards food for special occasions and lacks recipes for practical food. The three stars is because, of the few practical, edible recipes it does offer, they are very nice and easy to make.

I have one very tiny criticism, which may not bother anybody but myself; at the beginning of the book there is a recipe for the stock used throughout the book, and on the next page there's a version of the same stock using chicken. I do see the logic of this, given that it isn't a book exclusively for vegetarians, but rather a book of vegetarian recipes for anybody to enjoy, but that said, people who buy vegetarian cookbooks tend to be vegetarians and it stuck out like an incongrous sore thumb. It's a bit 'eww!' to a vegetarian, and a tiny bit tasteless.

Not a book I'd recommend, as it's a bit pricey for a dozen decent recipes. Only buy it if you entertain a lot and want some ideas for unusual (!) party food, otherwise stick to Linda McCartney, Rose Eliott and Anne Sheasby for real, practical vegetarian food.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was torn between giving this book either 3 stars or 4

It isn't a bad book by any means. The writer clearly understands food and what works together but it comes off as being just a little dull and here's why:

The bulk of the book is split into sections with pairings of vegetables and dishes which feature those particular vegetable pairings. Useful if you have some vegetables and don't know what to cook with them I suppose but it makes for very uninspiring reading on the whole (I mean who really gets excited by just vegetables?) and the recipes therefore come off as a little dull too. Almost like the recipes have been purely made to fit the format of the book rather than being in there because they are fantastic recipes in their own right.

I wonder if the book hadn't of been so meticulously ordered like it is whether perhaps that would change my perception of it.

I like the fact there is no tofu or quorn which I cannot stand. Just wish the bulk of the book's premise wasn't about cooking basically with veggies as opposed to coming up with some wonderful delicacies where it doesn't feel like vegetables are the main dish of the day (even though they are!)

I don't think I'm being harsh because The Seasoned Vegetarian is a very exciting vegetarian book to read and to cook from as well. I would advise you look at that unless you are a particular fan of Simon Hopkinson.
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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Simon Hopkinson's "Roast Chicken and Other Stories (Ebury Paperback Cookery)..." regularly tops polls of the best cookbook ever, so I was looking forward to this. Unlike some cookery writers, Hopkinson can write, and, whilst it might seem strange for a cookbook, this is very nicely written.

But it's not exciting. There are lots of ideas for things to have on the plate, but I struggle to get excited by many of them, and when you do make them I then need to think what can I have this with? As a result, I have noticed that the book gets the ultimate poor review - it sits on the shelf, rarely opened.

I have made a few of the recipes and, give him credit, they worked (and the cauliflower cheese is lovely - adding onion to the sauce is a nice touch). I just never think - I'll have something from "The vegetarian option" tonight. Perhaps Mr Hopkinson (I think he is still a meat eater) set himself the challenge of a veggie cookbook, but didn't quite have the enthusiasm for the subject that he needed?
I eat meat, but there are veggie recipes in other cookbooks that I return to time and again (some particuarly scrummy ones in the various Moro books). But this was, sadly, a disappointment
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