veg out

i don’t know about you, but at this time of the summer, i usually start hunting around for new ways to use vegetables from the garden (for others, it could be the farmer’s market or CSA).

on the one hand, we don’t want to waste even a bite of that great summer flavor, but on the other . . . if we have to eat green beans (squash, tomatoes, peppers—you name it) fixed the usual way one more time, we just might question our good fortune.

enter another terrific book in the CIA at home series—vegetarian cooking at home with the culinary institute of america.

now, i know that the word “vegetarian” often conjures up all manner of negative connotations—the most scurrilous being that one will be be forced to choke down tofurkey with some sort of stringy, greenish-gray mass of goo on the side, all in the name of “dinner”.

uh . . . NOT.

think back to all those meals you’ve watched me cook and asked for recipes to make yourself—did you see any meat? most people who eat in our home don’t even realize they are enjoying meat-free meals.

and truly, there is no reason on earth that eating vegetarian should involve foods that are any less delicious, nutritious, or attractive than those containing meat. i wasn’t raised in a vegetarian household, but because my mom is italian, we enjoyed a whole repertoire of dishes that are vegetable based—childhood favorites that we continue to cook and share. we never thought of them as foods from the fringe—just what was for dinner. and the fact that these dishes are often more economical is an added bonus.

i guess what i’m trying to do is set the scene—if you’ve been looking to expand your horizons, add new levels of texture and taste to your diet, and/or eat from a more healthy selection of choices, get ready to be wowed.

as with other books in the CIA at home series, this one is not merely a collection of recipes. i think that’s especially important in a vegetarian guide, because great meatless meals rely on a certain chemistry for success, both in flavor and in nutritional value. not that getting it right is difficult—it isn’t. but knowing a few key pointers about cooking and combining various food types will go a long way to bringing out the fullest flavor of each dish, while ensuring proper balance and complete protein.

the book is divided into sections according to meal components and food groups—starters, soups, main dishes, grains, vegetables, sauces, and even condiments.

each section begins with some background information, pantry basics, and cooking fundamentals for that food type, followed by a series of tempting recipes through which to put that information into practice.

a handy and guide to making soup stocks and which one goes best with which soup segues right into some awesome soup recipes

taking advantage both of the fruits of summer

and the warmer, richer flavors of winter.

now, soups and vegetables and grain dishes aren’t the jurisdiction only of vegetarians—just about any cook might have use of a book that offers both tasty vegetable recipes and some guidance to making them the best they can be.

i just love that the book has a section on making pasta. i do have at least four or five other books that contain pasta recipes, but i know i will use this one a lot because it has the information and the recipe right there

alongside sauce recipes i might be making or vegetable preparations i might be using in the same meal. making my kitchen life a little easier was very smart.

while it’s true that preparing vegetarian meals might entail a little more prep than say, slapping a steak on the grill and opening a bag of peas, the book does a good job of showing one how to get from A to B efficiently and effectively,

whether you are tackling one of the fancier, fussier dishes designed to impress

or a more humble and hearty meal in a pot.

all of the reasons listed above are good ones for considering this book, whether you intend to go full-on vegetarian or not. but what if you ARE curious about meat alternatives, such as soy, tempeh, or seitan?

no worries—it’s in there.

the section on cooking with high protein meat alternatives is quite informative and even contains a guide to making these products at home, should you want to try it.

while we enjoy eating these products as ingredients in a number of our favorite dishes, i had never thought about making them at home before. however, i may do it after reading up on it more. i’m not sure i’m well set up for it in our current situation, but i’ll find out if i decide to experiment, haha.

i do think it would be great to make our own burger substitutes for instance—we both like the idea (and the convenience, once in a while) of veggie burgers, but have yet to find a packaged brand that is nutritionally sound and really knocks our socks off.

i have great hopes for the recipes here . . .

another bonus section contained in the book is the one on condiments. because many vegetable based recipes may come from unfamiliar cuisines, learning a little about the condiments associated with them can widen the appeal of a new dish by allowing eaters to customize the spiciness or flavoring.

salsas, relishes, chutneys, dressings, flavored vinegars, even ketchup are included and using them to add a layer of flavor to everything from soups to sandwiches is encouraged.

yeah, if i go to the trouble of creating our own homemade veggie burgers, i just might go the extra mile and make some ketchup to go with them. all the more likely if the recipe is right there where i can get my hands on it.

last but certainly not least—this book is simply gorgeous. it celebrates the mouthwatering beauty of vegetable dishes so that i can practically smell the food as i browse the pages—it makes me want to cook something right now. that’s the best advertisement for vegetables i can think of.

so, are you excited?? thinking already about rolling up your sleeves to get busy in the kitchen this weekend? well fortunately for us, our friends at the CIA are generously holding a signed copy of vegetarian cooking at home with the culinary institute of america for one lucky reader. want to throw your hat in the ring to win it?

leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDST on sunday, september 2nd naming a vegetable dish you want to learn to make better. we’ll announce a winner in the blog post following.

in the meantime, don’t hold back from getting started on some new vegetable dishes this weekend—the best of summer is upon us; time to get in the kitchen and enjoy what remains.

hope we all have happy labor day weekend with safe travels. for those who have asked, erica finally resurfaced this morning and i hear that baby knitspot will be making an appearance very soon—stay tuned!

293 Responses to “veg out

  1. Ellen says:

    Well my husband has just decided to give up meat and poultry so this couldn’t be timed any better

  2. Lori S says:

    I’d like to improve my stir fry. Mine is tasty, but it’s missing something…

  3. Rebecca P says:

    I would love to have more ideas for making veggie lasagna. I have tried one with zucchini for the noodles but it came out very soupy. I plan to keep trying different variations.

  4. Evie says:

    This book looks fabulous! I’d love to learn how to make my own veggie burgers and also some great soups. Maybe what to do with kale, also.

  5. Jennifer says:

    What an absolutely fabulous cookbook! I would like to learn how to make some dishes with couscous or bulgur.

    Much of what you cook and share with us on your blog looks like it could come from the pages of that cookbook. If I’m ever down your way, I’m going to angle for an invitation for a meal.

    Happy Labour Day weekend.

  6. Danielle says:

    I just ate an indecent amount of pizza for dinner and this post made me hungry all over again! Magic, that.

  7. Kari W. says:

    I have a large garden and am always on the lookout for new ways to fix our garden bounty. The soups and ketchup would probably be the first on my list to try.

  8. I need to improve my veggie burgers!

  9. Josie McGill says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this book Ann as I have been wanting a good vegetarian cookbook for a long time and had no idea where to start!! Blessings, Love Josie

  10. Leslie says:

    I hadn’t even thought about making my own veggie burgers until now, but would love to give it a try. It’s all about getting the texture and spices just right.

  11. Michele says:

    Uhm, any veggie dish as I do not tolerate vegetables well! I love them in stir fry though. I would like to make homemade tofu also…that book makes ME hungry!

  12. J Saphow says:

    There isn’t one single dish that I want to improve; it’s more, the idea of cooking veggies, in general. No matter what, the recipes that I make come out flat, no flavor, and not particularly appealling; sad indeed. Thanks for hosting the giveaway and I, very much, enjoy your blog!

  13. Since I was diagnosed with gallstones last year and even since i had my gall bladder removed I’ve had to stick to a very low fat diet. We eat meat every day and I can’t eat red meat any longer so beef is out and pork is dodgy. I can’t eat sausages and burgers so I cook a lot of chicken. I’ve found some new ways to cook it but my girls keep complaining about chicken all the time. I thought it was just a temporary thing while I was waiting for my gall bladder to be removed but it looks like it might be a permanent situation.

    I don’t mind too much (apart from Christmas in Norway is going to be difficult as my Mum’s cooking at that time of year is definitely not low fat) but the girls miss some of their favourites. I’ve considered some meatfree alternatives, especially burgers and sausages, but the ones I’ve tried in the past have been disappointing. I will definitely investigate vegetarian cooking further after seeing that book. Some of the dishes look too fancy for me to attempt,although I think I’m a better cook than I give myself credit for.

  14. Nancy from Mass says:

    Vegetarian Shepards Pie. I would love to find a good vegetarian toutiere recipe too (french meat pie)!

  15. Athena says:

    My winter staple is veggie/bean/barley soups and stews, but I think I need a little variation. Looks like that book has some great soup and stew recipes that I’d love to try!

  16. Susan says:

    I have butternut squash coming along and would love to have more ideas on cooking it than the usual soups that I make. I would also like more ways to enjoy okra. Again, they all seem to go in a pot of soup and there must be okra alternatives!

    Beautiful post! Beautiful book which I would love to own. I’m in!

  17. Yikes! I forgot to name a vegetable dish I’d like to make better!
    I think I am most interested in learning to make hummus and babaganoush without the lemon. I am allergic/highly sensitive to citric acid, and love both dishes. I currently use a bit more sumac and a touch of vinegar, but I think better ideas might be out there. I also would love to try and make Imam Bayildi (The Imam Fainted) without tomato, for the same reason.
    Learning other eggplant recipes to try on my DH would also be good. He liked my grilled Asian eggplant, so I know it isn’t just the vegetable he dislikes.

  18. Suzanne says:

    I am always on the look-out for soup recipes that are hearty. I tend to use the same bean and barley combinations. I would love to find something new and hearty enough to satisfy my husband and son. Lovely photos! Cookbooks with pictures are so helpful. Photos tempt me to try new recipes!

  19. Julie says:

    Mouthwatering pictures. The food looks so delicious that I think I would make and serve some of them as our main dish and to satisfy the two meat lovers in my family, I will serve a small portion of meat as a side dish. It would be the opposite of our usual diet. I’m always looking for ways to increase our vegetable intake.

  20. Judy says:

    I’d like to learn a new recipe for eggplant that my family will eat with me!

  21. Alicia A says:

    wow! what a beautiful book, and having worked in a bookstore for +10 years, i’ve seen a few! we’ve recently made the switch to a more vegetarian based diet and this looks very inspirational. i just need to finish this coffe then i’m headed off to the market myself
    enjoy the long weekend

  22. Becky says:

    Looking at the pictures in the book I spotted the page with the word Risotto on it. I really want to learn how to make a really good risotto. I never get it right. In general I’d like to tempt my decidely carnivorous family to eat more vegetables. I myself do not like red meat and rarely eat it. I will eat poultry though. It’s a beautiful book and I’d like a chance to win it. Thanks Ann!!

  23. Betsy Pratt says:

    Hi Anne,
    This giveaway is so timely! My sister has been cooking (really yummy) vegetarian for quite a few years and I’ve decided that it’s time for us to start, too. I’d like to learn some dishes using lentils. Something hearty and warm for the coming fall.
    Thanks again,
    Betsy in the sunny Seattle suburbs

  24. Mitty says:

    This book looks gorgeous! I am always looking for new ways to use tempeh. We really like it, but my repertoire is limited. Thanks to you and to the cia for this excellent giveaway!

  25. Sharon says:

    We love ratatouile. However my recipe is inconsistent. I would love a better one! THank you for sharing, this sounds like a wonderful cookbook! My daughter is a vegetarian and I’m sure she will be interested in it too!

  26. Miranda says:

    I’d love to perfect my ratatouille… love it but am never quite happy with my results. The book is gorgeous!

  27. Mary says:

    I’d like to learn more ways to prepare beets than my usual salad. This cookbook sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Beth says:

    I am not a vegetarian, but loooooove cooking, and looooooove veggies. I always enjoy your gardenblog entries – especially since I am unable to have my own garden – thank you for them!

  29. KathyR says:

    I would love to learn some new pasta recipes which aren’t heavy on cream sauces (cream doesn’t seem to agree with me). One pot dinner ideas would be great, too! An excellent looking book which seems to have everything covered.

  30. molly says:

    What a great book, and how handy for a vegetable gardener. We love eating the vegies as they come ripe, but sometimes I’d like to have new ideas for combining them all. I’m really in a rut with the peppers!

  31. Debbie says:

    I would love to find a really good cassoulet recipe. Years ago a veggie colleague made this dish for a get together and it was lovely. I’ve never been able to reproduce it without meat!

  32. Kelli says:

    That looks so good! I started reading your blog for the knitting, but love your food and garden posts just as much. I am making a vegetable gratin today with yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and basil. And I would love to have this book for the pasta section, especially for the recipe of the dish with pappardelle, tomatoes and fava beans. Thanks for sharing!

  33. Sharon says:

    I would love to try a recipe for veggie burgers as my husband is a burger fanatic (he could eat one every night!). I’ve tried veggie burgers when dining out that are quite good but haven’t found a “frozen” variety yet that doesn’t taste like cardboard.

  34. Susan Kelly says:

    This would be a cookbook I would pull out over and over again…..

  35. Jan quarles says:

    I want to learn how to make eggplant everything better” — rollatini, parmesan, baked in baba ghanoush, etc!

  36. Liz says:

    I’m like Jan (above)! I can make eggplant parm but would like to know how to make it, and any other eggplant thing, better. I love it!

  37. Ellen Norman says:

    I want to make them ALL! What a book. I’d have to do every recipe. I’ve got my fingers crossed. Would you believe that we crossed paths in Albany/Schenectady recently? WTG

  38. Christine says:

    This looks like a great cookbook for vegetarians, and perhaps vegans, too, with a little tweaking to some of the recipes!
    Would love to learn new techniques for using tofu.

  39. Andrea Grant says:

    Vegie burgers that taste even better than hamburgers, and also hang together well! That cookbook looks great–I have the CIA gluten free baking cookbook and it’s my number 1 go-to on that subject!

  40. Maryjo says:

    What a fabulous looking book! We often eat/cook vegetarian and cook “mostly” from scratch but I’ve never thought about trying to makey own ketchup at home. — that would be fun!

  41. Maryjo says:

    Oh dear — typo above … It is supposed to be
    … Make my own ketchup … :)

  42. Lanafactrix says:

    I would love to make a good ratatouille–I’ve never had one that I truly liked!

  43. Polly McGrath says:

    That looks like Bright Lights chard in the first picture! A great cookbook to bring more vegetables to the table.