I was ten years old when Deborah Madison's pioneering cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, was released. My family didn't eat many vegetarian meals back then; if we did, it was often something pasta- and cheese-based, as was common in the mid-90s. So I never saw a copy of the book until much later, likely in a used bookstore, its edges frayed and its pages splattered with tomato sauce.
For younger cooks like myself, Madison's newly reissued copy of her seminal work, now called The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, is a godsend. It's been updated with over 200 new recipes and given a fresh new design and gorgeous cover. Some recipes bare traces of the 90s—falafel mix, for example, shows up in a few recipes—but most are as modern and fresh as anything newly published today. Her intention is to teach, but not necessarily preach. Sure, Madison encourages her readers to seek out local, organic, and non-GMO ingredients, but her first priority is clearly to get readers in the kitchen. Her first entry in the equipment section is telling: "Our hands are most essential in cooking. Don't hesitate to use them."
Madison's style is that of a minimalist. Most of her recipes focus on a singular vegetable or technique, and her ingredient lists are often miniscule. This approach is most useful for the novice and harried weeknight cook, but can also be a welcome change for those of us wanting a break from the complex, restaurant-driven cuisine so popular today. Plus, despite their simplicity, Madison's recipes are solid and magnificently tasty. Basic black beans are transformed to an entertainment-worthy dish with not much more than a few chile pods and an array of bright, fresh toppings. Coconut rice is brought to life with a couple kaffir lime leaves or a flurry of lime zest. Kale salad gets a kick from spicy soy-glazed pumpkin seeds.
This week, we'll make those recipes and more: pasta with broccoflower and ricotta salata, stir-fried tofu coated with a spicy-sweet rub, and braised spring vegetables tossed in crème fraîche and mustard sauce.
Win 'The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone'Thanks to our friends at Ten Speed Press, we have five (5) copies of The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. All you need to do for a chance to win a copy is to tell us about your favorite vegetarian dish in the comments section below.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, SFoodie, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.