Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Cookbook Review: Fast And Fresh Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Pros: colour photo center spread, tips at the start of each section, 'make a meal' box on recipe pages, lots of recipes

Cons: recipes require lots of ingredients and can be time intensive, some ingredients are hard to find

To review this cookbook I tested 6 recipes. Here are the results.

First up, Quick Supper Frittata. It took longer than the stated 30 minutes to
cook, and there were several mini steps (some of which are better prepared in advance rather than when you're cooking, like the egg mixture). I used roasted red peppers rather than piquillos and a sharp cheddar instead of Pecorino Romano. But for all the effort of making this dish, it was worth it.

Second I made the Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Smoked Paprika. I'm not a fan of celery so I left that out. It did make the soup less 'full' looking, so in future I'd try to substitute something in its place, like sliced cabbage. I also couldn't find smoked paprika (I finally located it a few days after trying this recipe). I used sweet paprika instead, which has a much mild
er flavour and didn't do the soup justice. My version was bland, so I added in some roasted garlic and red pepper spice. With the smoked paprika the spiciness would be fine. Also realize that if you're adding the yogurt or sour cream (which is what I used), you won't taste much of the spices anyway because the cream will supersede everything.

Next I did two recipes for a meal. Toasted Flatbread With Goat Cheese, Sauteed Greens and Crispy Shallots for the main and Roasted Asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano Crumbs as a side. While the asparagus was easy to prepare, I found the amount of parmigiano used made it on the strong side for my taste. But the asparagus themselves were perfectly baked, cooked through yet crisp. For the flatbread recipe, again there was a fair amount of preparation involved and I didn't use enough of the greens (I halved the recipe to serve 2 people and didn't realize how much the greens would wilt, so keep that in mind). Even omitting the crushed chilies, the cheese and greens were flavourful enough that it wasn't a problem that the flatbread wasn't completely covered.

The one recipe I tried that I didn't really like was the labour intensive Broccoli, Dill and Lemon Spread. I think I'd have preferred this one had the broccoli not been boiled before pureeing all the ingredients. Making this required boiling the broccoli, sauteing the garlic and using a food processor. So in addition to the prep work, there's a lot of clean-up required.

Finally, I made the Lentils With Roasted Red Peppers, Dill, Mint and Feta. I was afraid the peppers would be too 'smoky' to blend well, but the combination - especially the feta - worked well. Eaten on rice, this was a filling and delicious meal.


Anonymous said...

is brad enjoying the meals too?


Jessica Strider said...

I get mixed reviews from him. He's liked some of the recipes, and not others. I did a great mushroom ragout that he didn't like as much as I did, and other things he wants me to cook again some time. He's been a great sport!