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Cookbook review: 'Everyday Vegetarian' includes tons of quick, easy vegetarian dishes

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 2 2014 4:35 p.m. MDT

EVERYDAY VEGETARIAN: Meat-Free Meals in Minutes,” by Brenda Stanley, Front Table Books, $18.99, 111 pages

Idaho-based author and University of Utah grad Brenda Stanley’s “Everyday Vegetarian: Meat-Free Meals in Minutes” is almost exactly what the title says: a good, unintimidating resource for quick vegetarian meal ideas.

As Stanley writes in the introduction, these recipes “are great for those who are new to vegetarianism, those who are thinking about making the leap, or those who simply want to cut back on the amount of meat in their diet.”

Most of the dishes are extremely straightforward and easy to make. Other than the odd radicchio here or polenta there, the “exotic” ingredients are kept to a minimum. That doesn’t mean that the food is boring, though.

There's a huge amount of variety, even in terms of ethnic influences. Recipes range from Mexican hominy soup to Egyptian falafel to a vegetarian Pad Thai that uses soy sauce and brown sugar in place of less familiar ingredients like fish sauce and tamarind paste.

In terms of presentation, though, “Everyday Vegetarian” is pretty barebones. For home cooks who rely on pictures to help pick which recipe to try, this book might be a letdown — it’s all text.

One small quibble, though: Two or three of the recipes call for ingredients that aren’t vegetarian, like chicken broth in the Greek quinoa salad and Worcestershire sauce (which contains anchovies) in the Hungarian goulash.

Overall, “Everyday Vegetarian” is a great resource for anyone wanting to add more vegetables to their diet with plenty of flavor but not a lot of hassle.

*****

Indian-style Eggplant

The warm flavor of Indian spices and the meaty texture of eggplant make this one of my favorites.

Serves: 4

1 eggplant

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

1 medium onion, sliced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven's broiler. Rub oil on the outside of the eggplant, or coat with cooking spray. Place under the broiler and cook until the flesh is soft and the skin is blistering off, about 30 minutes. Turn as needed for even cooking.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Discard the skin; chop up the flesh, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds, and let them crackle for a few seconds and just turn golden brown. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook and stir until tender. Stir in the tomato, turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

Cook and stir for a few minutes. Place the eggplant pieces in the skillet, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes so some of the moisture evaporates. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.

Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website FilmInquiry.com.

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