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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 May 2011
I was initially put off this book owing to the number of low star reviews but then I came across a copy in Waitrose and after spending a few minutes leafing through it resolved to buy it.

It is worth noting that the fly leaf states that the book was not written exclusively for vegetarians. I therefore don't really understand some of the criticisms leveled at this book, particularly with regard to the inclusion of a recipe for chicken stock, and the use of ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce (in any event there is a Vegetarian Society approved version). A vegetable stock recipe is also provided and the recipes themselves merely say 'stock' leaving it up to the cook to decide which is used. Similarly, many of the cheeses in recipes are not vegetarian friendly but we have the option to use veggie alternatives (he acknowledges this in the introduction and even mentions the name of a vegetarian substitute for Parmesan). Given that the intended audience isn't exclusively vegetarian I don't have a problem with any of this, even as a strict vegetarian of more than thirty five years standing.

I am also somewhat bemused by criticism that the recipes wouldn't provide enough protein if you cooked exclusively from this book. Really, how likely is it that someone would cook from just one cookbook and eat nothing else? In my view there is more than enough cheese, eggs, cream and so forth - if anything I would worry about the amount of saturated fats in the recipes rather than be concerned about inadequate nutrition or protein!

When flicking through the book before I bought it I was attracted to some of the more visually striking dishes, for example spinach mousse with Parmesan cream or beetroot jelly with dill & horseradish cream, which would be good dinner party fare. As it turned out there are also plenty of everyday dishes and for the most part the recipes are straightforward, with clear instructions, and don't require hours of preparation.

If I have a criticism, it is that many of the dishes are more in the line of light lunches/dinners or accompaniments. This doesn't bother me unduly as I have frequently used an accompanying vegetable dish which I am serving to my (non-vegetarian) family as the basis of my meal with the addition of rice or a salad to bulk it out. I also wasn't overly keen on the layout, with recipes set out in chapters by ingredient (or complementary ingredients) so that, for example, you have soups and salads dotted around the book. One other thing to watch is that the number of servings per recipe is not consistent - I sorted out the ingredients for one dish thinking it was for four people and wondered why I had too little only to discover the recipe was for two.

The recipes run the gamut from the plain, such as macaroni cheese or an excellent vegetarian chilli, to more sophisticated offerings. Here are my favourite recipes which I hope will give you sufficient information to decide if this book will be of interest: chilled avocado soup with tomatillo salsa; globe artichoke soup; cream of fennel soup with garlic butter; parsnip soup with masala cream - a nice variation on curried parsnip soup; chilled curried mint & cucumber soup; warm asparagus custards with tarragon vinaigrette; red pepper mousse with garlic toasts (a gorgeous summer starter); savoury cheese custards with cream & chives; broad bean stew with summer savory (which, as he suggests, works well spread over a slice of bruschetta); pimento & potato stew with jalapeno relish; a fabulous carrot salad with coriander & green chilli; celery & apple salad in a curry cream dressing; pea & potato samosas; leek & cheese pie; garlic, saffron & tomato quiche; potato pie with Beaufort cheese; thyme, onion & gruyere tart; pappardelle with artichokes & sage; squash ravioli with pine kernels, butter & sage; a really good dhal; baked barley pilaff with Provencal vegetables; grilled white polenta with fonduta; croustade d'oeuf 'Maintenon' (a bit of a faff to make but worth it - poached eggs in pastry with a mushroom duxelle and hollandaise sauce); a fantastic blueberry pie; orange brûlée.

Overall, I found this to be a useful addition to the kitchen bookshelves. In particular I have found it provides some interesting elements for both formal & informal dinner parties or celebration meals.
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VINE VOICEon 23 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
While waiting to receive this, I had a look at the reviews here for the author's previous book. Uh-oh. While generally positive, there was a lot of talk of obscure, expensive ingredients, and an inflexible approach. I hoped that The Vegetarian Option would not be like that.

Luckily, so far I have found it very usable! The recipes I have tried have, without exception, come out just as they ought to, and you can buy almost everything you really need at Tesco. It's not like the Nigella books where I find that recipes are often structured around one hard-to-find ingredient. My favourite success was the pilaf rice, made by a method so surprisingly simple and fairly fast that I wondered whther it would really work. It made me proud - fluffy and dry and fragrant! As a chef, he seems to be keen on simple but innovative methods - hence the inclusion of gnocchi alla Romana, a milk and semolina gnocchi bake recipe, different to the kind we usually see in recipe books (though a legit gnocchi recipe all the same).

I am also pleased to see that Simon Hopkinson includes recipes to make up your own store-cupboard base ingredients or condiments, such as green paste, garlic butter, ginger syrup, sesame paste, a garlic creme fraiche puree, a masala paste and a curry "essence"... Very handy - you can make up large quantities and keep them for another time. Many of them are used in more than one recipe in the book. Don't be put off by the idea of making everything from scratch, though - I left out the green paste for the pilaf rice and added cardamom instead; it was still delicious, just different.

In terms of influences, the recipes range from traditional English, French, Greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and many more, as well as comfort food like macaroni and cheese. Lots of variety rather than the endless combinations of mushrooms, goats' cheese and sundried tomatoes which have taken over the vegetarian option in restaurants everywhere. The book is laid out by groups of ingredients, with an overview and tips at the start of each section.

Simon Hopkinson is not a vegetarian himself and it's not a book of pale substitutes, either - I would recommend this book to people no matter whether they eat meat or not; if anything, it will be really useful if you have vegetarian guests and want to make something that everyone can gladly enjoy together.
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on 2 October 2012
...if you don't know the cookery books you own then you are not using them enough. A five second glance at the reverse of the title page would have confirmed that it was a new edition.

And I am very glad to have it since my original is heavily used - with all the accompanying stains and wear. This is a nice piece of solid book production at a very decent price indeed. And the recipes are as good as they were three years ago. If you don't have it - then it is certainly worth a look.
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on 9 August 2013
Bought this after seeing Simon's recent TV programme. I really loved his attention to detail in the programme and was impressed he had a book dedicated to vegetarian recipes. Being a vegetarian, despite how amazing a 'normal' recipe book looks, it is not worth buying for only a handful of recipes that are vegetarian, so it is nice to find a book where all the recipes, apart from one (!?!?!? for chicked stock) is veggie friendly. And I would recommend to a non-vegetarian too. A lot of these recipes are side dishes that would compliment many a meaty feast, but all are fantastic on their own, or as part of a ensemble.
The recipes are mostly French influenced, with some Asian touches and dishes here and there.
We have made around a dozen dishes from the book so far and all have been great. The book is a good size and the recipes are very well written and easy to follow, nicely laid out in complimentary pairs of ingredients. Some are really charming in their simplicity, some need a bit of patience and attention, but all have been worth it.
Looking forward to cooking many more recipes out of this book - several have been ear-marked already.
Recommended purchase for any food lover, and a big thanks to Simon Hopkinson for a great book.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories (Ebury Paperback Cookery)was voted 'The Most Useful Cookery Book of All Time' by respected people in the food industry and it became a number one best seller.

'Hoppy's' book on vegetables is less likely to reach those heady heights but it's a good read with some tantalising recipes. Its approach is to move from vegetable combinations such as asparagus and artichokes to dishes, although some of the recipes seem more suitable for side dishes than for vegetarian suppers. I enjoyed his sections on basics like cooking with eggs.

Each section has an overview, then the recipes (usually one per page) and then there are more personal notes from Hoppy - eg.'the perfect texture of a risotto is that of slow lava' and there are photos of a number of the recipes.

Simon Hopkinson was voted so useful because his recipes work and I can see that a number of these have the potential for life time staples:

- Petit pois à la française

- Pappardelle with artichokes and sage

- Pumpkin soup

- Butter beans with sage, olive oil and dried chilli

- Tomato risotto
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on 28 February 2016
Simon Hopkinson is such an entertaining writer as well as a brilliant chef, many recipes will appeal to meat eaters as well as veggies, and mainly very simple ingredients. Very glad I purchased this.
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on 26 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Written by a non-vegetarian, this book offers a refreshing take on vegetarian food. I know I'll put it good use - but overall I did have some mixed feelings about it. I'll try to unpick them in this review and explain why.

Things I like? A lot. Physically, this is an attractively produced, slender hardback book with a pale green dust jacket. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, and I liked the short narrative text at the beginning of each section. The book is broken down into groups of ingredients - so, for instance, the section on carrots and parsnips contains a range of recipes involving those vegetables. There are some delicious ideas in here - the carrot salad with coriander & green chilli is absolutely wonderful, and the next recipes that I'm keen to try out are the beetroot jelly with dill & horseradish cream (yum!) and the gratin of chicory with mustard sauce. There's a good balance in this book between simple dishes and recipes that involve a lot more effort and ingredients. There's a wide range of culinary influences at play here, from mainstream British to French, Indian, Asian. The ideas are exciting and full of flavour. There's a nice balance between tried and tested classics, and new and exciting ideas.

With that said, some things about this book definitely did not sit well with me.

There are good pictures throughout, but I was disappointed to find that these did not accompany every recipe (I do like being able to get a sneak preview and see what the end product is meant to look like).

As a vegetarian, I did find that the tone of this book rather off-putting. I must say I don't think it's very clever to write a vegetarian cookbook and then alienate your main audience with a recipe for chicken stock and some poorly-judged comments about vegetarianism that could be read as disparaging. I know that this is not just a cookbook for vegetarians, which is brilliant - but clearly they are your main market here! I would be quite unhappy if a relative bought this book and got the impression that 'less fussy' vegetarians would be happy to eat food made with chicken stock, or pork gelatine, or Worcestershire sauce (which contains fish).

The other thing I want to point out is that this cookbook shares a lot of the problems that I see when picking the 'vegetarian option' in a restaurant. It is not written by a vegetarian, and this really does show - the recipes are not for complete meals that include a full protein (nutritionally essential in order to maintain a healthy vegetarian diet). They are more like side dishes than main meals in this respect. And there's a heavy reliance on cream, cheese and milk - again, people who are vegetarian will know that these are not the staples of healthy everyday food at all.

In many ways this is a brilliant cookbook and I'm giving it four stars for its content, as a general cookbook. But I'm disappointed in it as a vegetarian cookbook. I'd suggest that it should have been called 'The Vegetable Option' rather than 'The Vegetarian Option'...
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on 12 May 2015
Yummy, scrummy. I'm not a veggie but I love Simon Hopkinson's recipes. It's obvious that he's a real foodie and a good writer as well. These are delicious recipes and you'll understand why veggies should be the main course and not just a limp side dish.
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on 17 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a cookery book addict and love nothing more than poring through cookery books with a coffee and planning which ones I am going to make. Being vegetarian means that in a typical recipe book I have to disregard around half of the recipes. I just received "The Vegetarian Option" and settled down to drool over yummy recipes and have found myself sorely disappointed. Most of the recipes do not appeal to my tastes at all, Spinach Mousse, Beetroot Jelly with Horseradish Cream and Oriental Fried Turnip Paste, to name but a few. Some of the pictures of the finished dishes look like something I would send back if it was brought to me in a restaurant.

The only dishes that do look appetising are for bog standard meals like Macaroni Cheese and Cauliflower Cheese which I don't need a recipe for. I do like the way that the recipes are ordered by vegetable and can see this would be useful when trying to find something to do with stuff from the veg box. All in all, I would not recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I enjoyed laughing at the reviews for this book equally as much as I loved giggling at those for the new Tamasin Day-Lewis - both writers have come in for some proper taking the mickey, mostly as a result of badly chosen titles.

Hopkinson is not a vegetarian, not even close, and I think it is fairly likely to have been his publisher who chose this title, hoping the book would appeal to more buyers than one devoted to just plain vegetables.

Yet the truth is that this is a fine vegetable cookbook, not a vegetarian one. The dishes are definitely delicious and complete enough to eat for suppers and lunches, but the book is about how to make veg delicious- not how to create a balanced veggie diet.

I'm a meat-eater, though, and I loved it. Very sophisticated recipes, though not particularly complicated, and with all the experience and know-how you'd expect from such a well-respected chef.

And though I did have a little giggle at the chicken stock recipe, the bit that annoyed me the most in this book was just his over the top style of writing. I was a bit like "oy, tone it down a bit!". Yet what was being communicated was brilliant. I would recommend the book as a gift for anyone you know who is really obsessive about food. NOT your newly vegetarian teenage niece.
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