Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Meatless" by Martha Stewart

Meatless is the latest cookbook from Martha Stewart.  It includes over 200 vegetarian recipes that have appeared in the pages of Martha Stewart Living.  Aimed at people looking to add more vegetable-based meals to their diets, this is a cookbook that will be a welcome to addition to any kitchen.

The first thing you notice when you pick up this book are the beautiful pictures that accompany every recipe (and would you expect anything less from Martha?)  I appreciate that each recipe has a picture to go with it, that's actually something that disappoints me when a cookbook doesn't have them, I need to see a picture of the dish to decide if it's something I want to try.

In addition to the recipes the book includes what a vegetarian pantry looks like, cooking basics, a list of protein powerhouses, flavour booster recipes, a grain cooking chart, and suggested menus for a variety of occasions.  My only criticism here would be that it doesn't include in-depth nutritional information for vegetarians but this just means I wouldn't consider it a first-read for people new to the diet.

I'm not a full-fledged vegetarian but I do go for periods of time (a few months) where I don't eat any meat and when I do include it in my diet, it's a few times a week.  So I'm always on the lookout for new  meat-free dishes.  In the past I have been disappointed to find that most vegetarian cookbooks tend to include similar dishes.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good balance between common dishes and brand new ideas in this book.  I also like how Martha took your typical vegetarian dishes like chill, risotto, and lasagna and gave a variety of ways to make them.

I will admit, I kind of see Martha Stewart recipes as outside of my cooking abilities and have tended to stay away from her books.  So to test that thinking, I chose three recipes (one for breakfast, lunch and dinner) to see how easy they were for me.  I chose the Potato and Zucchini Hash (p. 73), Avocado Salad with Bell Pepper and Tomatoes (p.36), and Mini Broccoli and Pasta Casseroles (p.175).  All three of them looked easy enough for me to make, new to me, and easy enough to make adjustments if I didn't want to pay $8.99 for a tiny hunk of cheese (which I didn't.)  All three recipes got thumbs up from me and two of them got thumbs up from my hard to please husband (he was at work when I made the Avocado Salad and I ate it all.)  This now has me excited to try more recipes in the book, and even take on ones that I think will be too difficult for me.

This is a cookbook that both vegetarian and meat-eaters will enjoy.  There are a ton of small plate/side dishes that can be made to go with a meat dish.  There are great ideas to be combined together into a versatile vegetarian menu.  Vegan, gluten-free and special diet (no dairy, wheat, soy, or nuts) meals are marked.  There is a lot of dairy in this book so it wouldn't be a go-to for vegans.  And in Martha Stewart fashion it assumes we all have the means to just pop down to the store for an $11.99 jar of cashew butter (or whatever fancy ingredient some of her recipes call for.)  But this is a book that you will enjoy spending time poring over, that will give everyone something new to try, and should occupy a spot on everyone's cookbook shelf.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

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