Cook the Book: 'Almost Meatless'

20090216almost_meatless.jpgIf meat has always been the star of your meal, and vegetables, grains, and starches merely supporting acts, it can be a real challenge to redistribute the roles. But there are many good reasons to switch to an ensemble cast mindset, from environmental health to your own, and Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond are here to help. Almost Meatless is a collection of recipes in which modest quantities of meat—if meat is used at all—enhance, rather than dominate, dishes.

Despite its focus on healthy and responsible eating, the book is neither puritan nor militant in tone. If you've followed the authors' Meat Lite column here on Serious Eats, you'll recognize in Almost Meatless their gentle, persuasive voices and eminently practical approach to cooking and eating. Budget-conscious home cooks themselves, Manning and Desmond have carefully annotated their recipes to include tips on getting the best cut of meat for your dollar, making your freezer your friend, and, where possible, converting their almost meatless recipes into entirely meatless ones.

We'll be sharing an Almost Meatless recipe with you every day this week, like almond gnocchi with a (lamb-optional) lamb ragu, creamy smoked trout chowder, and a rustic lentil soup that uses just a little Italian sausage. And from my favorite chapter in the book, which urges us to liberate eggs from their breakfast classification, we'll be posting spicy chilaquiles and Parisian bistro classic, oeufs en meurette. Michele Humes

Win 'Almost Meatless'

Courtesy of Ten Speed Press, we are giving away five (5) copies of Almost Meatless. In the comments below, just tell us your favorite dish that's big on flavor but easy on the meat.

Contest will end and comments will close at 3 p.m. ET, Monday, February 23, 2009. One entry per community member. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.