by Sybil PrattJuly, 2004
A feast of seasonal vegetarian treats
I'm an omnivore myself, but really good vegetarian cookbooks light up my culinary life. It's fascinating to see how memorable meals can be crafted without meat, fish or chicken. And for vegetarians, a new crop of recipes and ideas is a welcome way to, pardon the expression, beef up their non-beef repertoire. Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for the Family and Friends is a delight for the committed and the curious. Bishop, executive editor of Cook's Illustrated, author of two previous cookbooks, husband and father, somehow manages to cook vegetarian dinners for his family almost every night. He asks two things of his recipes that they be convenient and that they "pack plenty of flavor," and sums up his food philosophy as "shop local and cook global, but keep it real." To that practical end, he urges us to frequent local farmers' markets when possible and shop seasonally in supermarkets when it's not. The 248 recipes are arranged by season, with suggestions for menus that follow suit. Spring starts with a lovely PurÅ½ed Pea and Lettuce Soup topped with intense Chive Puree; summer features tomatoes, squash blossoms, grilled vegetables and salads galore; Orecchiette with Spicy Broccoli and Chard Bundles with Lemon Rice and Sage Butter follow in the fall; and winter brings on comforting chilis, tofu dishes, risottos and bean casseroles. Spending a year in Jack Bishop's kitchen is a pleasing way to explore vegetarian cooking at its sumptuously simple best.