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The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking: Templates and Lessons for Making Delicious Meatless Meals Every Day: A Cookbook

The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking: Templates and Lessons for Making Delicious Meatless Meals Every Day: A Cookbook

by Martha Rose Shulman


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In The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking, legendary New York Times Recipes for Health columnist Martha Rose Shulman offers a simple and easy method for creating delicious plant-based meals every day, regardless of season or vegetable availability. Accessible and packed with mouthwatering, healthy, fresh dishes, The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking accomplishes what no other vegetarian cookbook does: It teaches the reader how to cook basic dishes via templates—master recipes with simple guidelines for creating an essential dish, such as a frittata or an omelet, a stir-fry, a rice bowl, a pasta dish, a soup—and then how to swap in and out key ingredients as desired based on seasonality and freshness. By having these basic templates at their fingertips, readers—wherever they live and shop for food, and whatever the season—will be able to prepare luscious, meatless main dishes simply and easily. They are the ideal solution for busy families, working moms, and everyone who wants to be able to put a wonderful vegetarian dinner on the table every day, angst-free.

A true teacher's teacher, Martha Rose Shulman takes the reader by the hand and walks them through 100 mouthwatering dishes including: Minestrone with Spring and Summer Vegetables; Vegetarian Phô with Kohlrabi, Golden Beets, and Beet Greens; Perciatelli with Broccoli Raab and Red Pepper Flakes; Stir-Fried Noodles with Tofu, Okra, and Cherry Tomatoes; Basmati Rice with Roasted Vegetables, Chermoula, and Chickpeas; and much, much more.

Whether the reader is brand new to vegetarian cooking or a working parent trying to decipher farmers' market offerings or an overflowing CSA box, The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking is the perfect tool and the ideal, must-have addition to everyone's kitchen bookshelf.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623361297
Publisher: Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 04/22/2014
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 407,297
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Martha Rose Shulman is a prolific cookbook author with a New York Times column, "Recipes for Health."Her book Mediterranean Harvest was selected by Cooking Lightmagazine as one of the top vegetarian cookbooks of the past 25 years.

Read an Excerpt


The Building Blocks: Basic Recipes

THESE ARE THE BASIC, mostly vegetable preparations that I use most often as building blocks for main dishes. Rather than repeat the instructions for preparing the vegetables every time they're used, I've grouped them as recipes here. My frittatas and gratins, for example are often filled with seasoned wilted greens (page 3)—kale or chard, beet greens, broccoli raab, or spinach. Those same greens, in turn, could easily top a big bowl of grains or make up part of a taco filling. I'll use the pan-cooked mushrooms on page 11 or the wild mushroom ragout on page 12 in a risotto, and the same mushrooms in a taco; the Mediterranean stewed peppers (page 6) or roasted winter squash (page 15) that I stir into a risotto on page 158 can also be spooned over polenta, top a big bowl of grains, or fill a frittata.

Some of these recipes can also stand alone, to be enjoyed as a side dish or a small plate. But in this book they're the vegetarian building blocks that make up bigger, more substantial dishes. If you are relatively new to cooking, this is the place where you can begin to walk before you run with the main body of recipes in this book.


THIS IS MY METHOD FOR DEALING with most dark, leafy greens—kale, chard, turnip greens, spinach, or beet greens. It's the first step I take with them before I use them in most recipes, such as gratins and pastas, frittatas and tacos, quesadillas and pizzas. Sometimes, if I'm really organized, I'll blanch (blanching means cooking for a short time in boiling water) or steam my greens as soon as I get them home from the market, before I even know what I'm going to do with them. I refresh the wilted greens with cold water, drain, and squeeze out the excess water, then store them in a covered bowl in the refrigerator (they keep better in a covered bowl than they do in a plastic bag) for about 3 days.

If I find that I'm not going to be able to use the greens because I'm going out of town, or I bought too much at the market, I double wrap the blanched or steamed greens in plastic, bag them, and freeze. It's always great to have them on hand, ready to transform into a delicious dinner.

Each green is a little different in terms of the toughness of the leaf and the amount of time it takes for the leaf to wilt. Collards are toughest and require the most time in boiling salted water or steam before the leaves soften. Some types of kale are relatively tough as well. Spinach is much more delicate and requires hardly any cooking at all, only about 20 seconds. Beet greens and chard are somewhere in between. The sturdier greens lose less volume when you wilt them. Spinach, no matter how lush the bunch is when you begin, cooks down to a mere handful.

After I wilt the greens, I usually season them with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, sometimes red pepper flakes, and herbs—thyme and/or rosemary. I don't proceed with this step until close to the time that I'm ready to make the dish, as the flavors won't be as fresh if the seasoned greens sit in the refrigerator.

Kale, Beet Greens, Chard, Turnip Greens, Spinach, Collards


Whether blanched or steamed, once your greens are drained, you must squeeze excess water out of the leaves. The most efficient way to do this is to take up one handful at a time and squeeze. Once all of the greens have been squeezed, place the clumps on your cutting board and chop coarsely or fine, depending on the recipe.

3/4 to 1 pound greens, stemmed, leaves washed in 2 changes of water


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and fill a bowl with cold water or ice water.

2. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, salt it generously (see "How Much Salt is Enough...?" on page 4), then add the greens. Blanch mature spinach for 20 seconds only (baby spinach needs only 5 seconds); chard, beet greens, and turnip greens for about 1 minute; kale for 2 to 3 minutes; collards for 3 to 4.

3. Using a Chinese mesh skimmer if you have one, or a slotted spoon or spider, lift the blanched greens from the water and transfer directly to the bowl of cold water. Let sit for about half a minute, then drain.


1. Heat 1 inch of water in a steamer; I prefer to use a pasta pot with an insert, as the insert can accommodate a large volume of greens. Fill a bowl with cold water or ice water.

2. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, place the greens in the insert. Cover and steam until they collapse, 1 to 2 minutes for spinach (less than a minute for baby spinach); about 2 minutes for chard, beet greens, and turnip greens; 3 to 4 minutes for kale; and 4 to 5 minutes for collards. To allow the greens to steam evenly, uncover halfway through the steaming time and turn them using long-handled tongs.

3. Remove the greens from the steamer and transfer to the bowl of cold water. Let sit for about half a minute, then drain.

NOTE: Different types of greens yield different amounts. On average, with the exception of spinach, 1 £d of greens (about 8 cups tightly packed leaves) will yield about 1 cup of chopped wilted greens. Spinach yields only 1/2 cup and will serve 1 or at most 2. However, when the greens are building blocks for other dishes, they'll serve on average 4 to 6.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: Wilted greens will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator in a covered bowl and freeze well for a month or two.

How Much Salt Is Enough for Blanching Vegetables?

A cooking teacher at the CIA Boot Camp (at the Culinary Institute of America) in Hyde Park, New York, taught me that the water for blanching vegetables should "taste like the ocean" (he said the Atlantic, but any ocean will do), and I think that's about right. How much salt you need to get it to that point depends upon the size of your pot and the amount of water in it. Tasting the water is the best way to ascertain whether or not you've added enough. It should taste like seawater. If you're using a big pasta pot full of water, begin with 1 heaping tablespoon; taste, and you'll probably add another.

Broccoli Raab (Rapini)


I always blanch broccoli raab; I find it more efficient than steaming and like the flavor better. Because the greens and flowers cook more quickly than the thick stems, I add them separately to the boiling water.

1 bunch broccoli raab (3/4 to 1 pound)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a bowl with cold water or ice water. To prepare the broccoli raab, first trim away the thick ends and cut the stems where they taper, so that the thinner, leafier ends with the flowers are separated from the thicker ends.

2. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, salt it generously. Add the thick ends of the broccoli raab and set the timer for 5 minutes. After 2 minutes, add the thinner, leafier pieces so that they boil for 3 minutes.

3. When the raab is tender and wilted, transfer with a slotted spoon to the bowl of cold water and let cool for half a minute. Drain and squeeze to expel excess water. Chop medium-fine or fine, depending on the recipe. Most will instruct you to toss it in a pan with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes as well, which broccoli raab adores.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: Wilted broccoli raab will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator in a covered bowl and freezes well for a month or two.


I PICK UP A FEW RED peppers every week, even if I don't have a plan for them. They keep well in the refrigerator; they're always welcome in a salad; and stewed or roasted they are endlessly useful as fillings (for frittatas, omelets, gratins, and risottos), toppings for pizzas, and, accompaniments to pasta. Once roasted or stewed, even relatively dull- tasting hothouse peppers pick up plenty of flavor. But nothing compares to the peppers you buy from your local farmer.

Mediterranean Stewed Peppers: Peperonata, Piperade, and Chakchouka


There are variations on the stewed pepper theme throughout the Mediterranean. Italian peperonata is a sweet mixture of onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and garlic. Basque piperade has more spice because of their slender piquant peppers called piments d'espelette. The Tunisian version, chakchouka, is even spicier still, seasoned with the red pepper paste, harissa, and tabil, a spice mix that includes caraway, coriander, cayenne, and garlic.

There are so many ways you can use this preparation, no matter how you choose to season it. Use it the way the Basques do, as an addition to scrambled eggs, or the way Tunisians do, with eggs poached on top (the words piperade and chakchouka are also the names for the egg and pepper dishes). Stir it into a frittata or a risotto, toss it with pasta, spread it on pizza, serve it with grains for a beautiful Big Bowl dinner, or use it for tacos or quesadillas, a gratin, or a quiche.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 large red bell peppers, or a combination of red and yellow bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced or chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt, the garlic, and bell peppers. Cook, stirring often, until the peppers are tender 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, thyme, more salt to taste (1/2 teaspoon or more), and black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat, about 10 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer over low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust seasonings.


Substitute 1 or 2 green bell peppers for 1 or 2 of the red bell peppers. Add 1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and thinly sliced, and 1 minced jalapeno or serrano chile along with the bell peppers.


Use 2 green bell peppers, 2 red bell peppers, 2 Anaheim peppers, and a chile pepper if desired. Along with the tomatoes, stir in 1 teaspoon harissa (page 254) or more to taste, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds, 1/4 teaspoon ground caraway seeds, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. When the stew has cooked down to a thick, fragrant mixture, stir in 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley. Top with poached eggs (page 32) (dish will no longer be vegan).

ADVANCE PREPARATION: The stewed peppers will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Table of Contents

Introduction viii

1 The Building Blocks: Basic Recipes 1

2 Soups, Big and Small 35

3 Frittatas and Omelets 69

4 Gratins 85

5 Pasta 97

6 Polenta 117

7 Whole Grains and Big Bowls 123

8 Risotto 147

9 Stir-Fries 165

10 Beans and Lentils 185

11 Tacos and Quesadillas 203

12 Savory Pies 221

13 Couscous and the Stews That Go with It 249

Acknowledgments 262

Index 263

Customer Reviews

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