Cook the Book: '100 Best Vegetarian Recipes'

20090803100bestvegetarianrecipes.jpgIt seems like vegetarian meals are always met with back-handed compliments. "This nut loaf is so delicious, I don't even miss the meat!" Or "those portobello burgers were divine, almost as good as a real cheeseburger!" Too often vegetarian dishes try to compensate for their lack of animal-based protein with meat mimicry. In my opinion, this emphasis on meat simulation is part of why vegetarian cooking has developed such a bad reputation over the years.

I was a strict vegetarian for almost ten years and I have eaten countless veggie burgers, soy dogs, and buffalo "wings." A Tofurkey graced my Thanksgiving table for more years than I would care to admit. I am currently a happy omnivore who thoroughly enjoys tofu and vegetables but I can honestly say that these meat impersonators have not reappeared in my life since.

As someone who has spent considerable time on both sides of the meat-eating fence, I've found that the most satisfying vegetarian meals don't try to put on airs and pretend they are something they clearly aren't. These dishes are vegetarian for the simple fact that they are made from vegetables—they are delicious in their own right.

Carol Gelles has put together one of the smartest and most useful vegetarian cookbooks I've seen in a while. 100 Best Vegetarian Recipes is a collection of simple, flavorful, and easy to prepare dishes that appeal to vegetarians and carnivores alike. The recipes don't require a trip to the health food store for hard-to-find ingredients like TVP, seitan, or egg substitute. Every single item called for can be found in any grocery store. Caroline Russock

Win 100 Best Vegetarian Recipes

Every day this week we will be sharing a recipe from 100 Best Vegetarian Recipes. This week's menu includes a Creamy Mushroom Pâté as a starter, a cooling summer Vichyssoise, and some hearty meatless mains such as Shepherd's Pie and Eggplant Rollatini. We'll also be sharing a recipe for Mighty Vegetable Broth that will add a lot of flavor to your vegetarian dishes without harming any animals in the process.

Thanks to the generous folks at Wiley Publishing, we are giving away five (5) copies of 100 Best Vegetarian Recipes this week. All you have to do is tell us about your favorite meatless meal in the comments section below.

Five (5) people will be chosen at random among the eligible comments below. We're sorry, but entry is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Comments will close Monday, August 10 at noon ET. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.