The Part-Time Vegetarian: Flexible Recipes to go (Nearly) Meat-Free, by Nicola Graimes

13 Nov
Four of Five stars

Four of Five stars

The world doesn’t really need another vegetarian cookbook, and a “vegetarian” cookbook that also includes recipes with meat is needed even less. However this one is different enough that it might be an exception.

First things first, this book is definitely not for vegans. Veteran vegan cooks can turn almost any dish into a delicious vegan meal, but these recipes are centered very heavily on non-vegan ingredients and it would be better to just buy a different book.

For my only other complaint, why even call this a vegetarian cookbook? If there are meat eaters in the house then just cook up a delicious vegetarian meal and allow them to add meat to whatever is being served. You never see titles such as “The Mostly Fat-Free Cookbook that Focuses Heavily on Cheese Fondue and Southern Fried Chicken and Gravy.” Or “The Cookbook for Diabetics Who Always Have Insulin on Hand and 911 on SpeedDial!” You know what I mean?

However, putting aside the title, this is a really great cookbook for experienced cooks looking for more Mediterranean, Asian and Southeast Asian recipes. There are no processed foods included, so the ingredient lists can be long. It’s not for the picky eater or beginner cook, as there are ingredients and cooking terms included which even I don’t know, and I’m a pretty advanced cook. Most of these recipes are not simply meatless dishes, neither do they revolve around meat substitutes, they are vegetarian dishes that focus on good clean eating and delicious sauces. Meals made up of rice and vegetables, curries, chickpea and tofu creations, and different takes on many familiar Asian recipes such as lettuce wraps.

Not all cookbooks need to have 10-30 minute recipes, and this is one of those that is instead for cooks who enjoy their time in the kitchen and love to create new flavors with unique ingredients – but not necessarily with complicated instructions. Very few of these recipes contain less than five ingredients, and most ranged around a dozen or more. For people who love to cook like I do, this means a longer time of meditation and creativity during the process, and it’s also a signal that processed foods are not included – better for you and more delicious! There are all sorts of vegetables and Asian inspired ingredients which may not be found in your local grocery (depending on where you live) but you should have no problem finding them at an Asian market. The money spent investing in a few new herbs and spices goes a long way as well. There are also a few names you may not be familiar with but which are actually foods we already have in our cupboards: Did you know a haricot bean is just a Navy bean? So if you see something unfamiliar, try Google first.

At the start of the book the author goes over many of the unusual ingredients, where to find them, how they are used and how to store them. And at the end of the book are several different menus for weekly meal planning and special occasions. In between are many gorgeous photos, and all the recipes include measurements in metric and US standard.

I am all about promoting healthy, clean, unprocessed cooking, and I think there are several very interesting dishes in this cookbook that I would love to try. This book is great for certain audiences:

Experienced cooks
Cooks who love experimentation and creativity
Cooks interested in more Mediterranean, Asian and Southeast Asian recipes
Adventurous meat-eaters

Would I buy this for a vegetarian? Well, no. There are too many actual vegetarian cookbooks out there and I never bought into the “flexitarian” idea. All meat eaters are flexitarian; it’s a rare person who has meat with every single meal. Blueberry pancakes are vegetarian, so is spinach quiche, so are hundreds of pasta dishes.

So my only real problem is the title, and it seems that it bothers me more than I realized now that I’m at the end of this review. I really do wish it was just promoted as what it is instead of what it is not. It’s a great cookbook that people who are solid meat eaters would still enjoy, but they may pass this up when they see the word “vegetarian”. I hope they don’t!

Thank you to NetGalley and Nourish publications for providing me with a copy for review. Now it’s time to get cooking!!

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