Perhaps no cookbook author has done as much to glorify vegetables as Mollie Katzen, who is credited with changing the way many of us eat.
Now, with her new book, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation, she shares the joys she has discovered over four decades in her garden and kitchen.
There also are practical tips on essential pantry ingredients and tools and clever menu suggestions. Katzen's impressive artwork and photographs add to the book's appeal.
"My food is sharper, livelier, spicier, lighter, and more relaxed than it used to be," Katzen writes in the introduction. Her new recipes rely on nuances of seasoning and creative combinations of colors, flavors and textures. Take, for example, green beans and beets with pickled red onions, or couscous with dates, pistachios, pine nuts and parsley.
Included in the 250 recipes are soups that make you long for cold weather. There's a Tunisian chickpea soup, wild rice chili-mango soup, and green matzoh ball soup, to name a couple.
And you gotta love a cookbook with a chapter called "Cozy Mashes." (How tempting is this: smoky mashed caramelized eggplant and onions.) Writes Katzen: "In a vegetarian setting, a cozy mash can be served solo, as a little bowlful of pure comfort on its own, and it can also be spread or spooned thickly as a substantial topping over, or a bed underneath, other dishes."
Throughout, there are suggestions for "optional enhancements," encouraging cooks to improvise according to their own tastes or what happens to be on hand in the pantry and fridge.
Many recipes are perfect for feeding a crowd during the holiday season. One of our favorites is a mushroom bread pudding, which works as a Sunday brunch entree or as a side dish at a dinner party.
Turn the page for Katzen's recipe for mushroom bread pudding...