Mollie Katzen is not only the High Priestess of plant-based cuisine, she’s also an early pioneer, proud proponent, practitioner and author of a dozen cookbooks that provide appealing alternatives to traditional meat and potatoes, including her trailblazing, mind-changing Moosewood Cookbook (1977). Her latest, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation, is a latter-day Moosewood, livelier and lighter, sharper and spicier, showcasing her expanded repertoire and simplified approach. In addition to the usual course categories, there’s a brilliant array of “burgers,” like crunchy Mushroom-Barley-Cashew Burgers, and savory “cozy mashes”—think beets, celery root, peas and more—that can stand alone or ornament other creations. Try custardy Mushroom Popover Pie for a weekday dinner, or Curried Cauliflower Stew with crisp Onion Pakoras for a party. Every recipe is introduced with Mollie’s infectious enthusiasm and followed by “Optional Enhancements” that offer intriguing improv options.
PASTA—THE REAL DEAL
There’s never been a shortage of cookbooks claiming to unlock the secrets of real Italian cooking. Most don’t, and anyone who’s savored a plate of pasta in Italy knows that what we make here, in restaurants and at home, just doesn’t taste as good. With the publication of Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way that sad state of affairs has been remedied. Oretta Zanini De Vita, a renowned Italian food historian and pasta authority, and Maureen B. Fant, an American who’s lived and cooked in Rome for more than 30 years, have teamed up to give us 150 recipes written by and for Italians but adapted for American expectations (more measurements, more detailed instructions). There’s a glorious selection of sauces and soups with suggestions for the pasta shapes—some familiar, some not—that go best with them, recipes for making pasta from scratch and, most importantly, advice on approaching pasta as Italians approach this most-loved food that is “synonymous with family, hearth and home.”
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook is gorgeous, fabulous and filled with recipes that will make even the most jaded cook jump for culinary joy. Acclaimed London restaurateurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem won this year’s coveted IACP award for Cookbook of the Year, causing an outbreak of “Jerusalem fever”—people compulsively, and happily, cooking dish after dish and throwing lots of Jerusalem dinners. So I predict that Ottolenghi —actually their first book, never before published in the U.S.—will stir up another rapturous feeding frenzy. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s unique realm of flavor is sunny, colorful, zesty and bold, appreciably Middle Eastern, with Mediterranean and Californian influences and universal appeal. They keep prep unfussy and simple. They want you to have fun with their food and, most of all, they want you to say “wow!” And it’s hard not to when you taste something as simple and exciting as Grilled Broccoli with Chile and Garlic, as satisfying as Beef and Lamb Meatballs Baked in Tahini, as heady as Harissa-Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad, as decadently rich as Khalid’s Chocolate and Chestnut Bars. “Wow!” is the best description of the whole book.