I am not a vegetarian but I am a lover of good food. Vegetarian with a Vengeance is a full-colour cookbook with a slightly different slant on recipes. The authors are Scandinavians Christine Bille Neilsen and Tina Scheftelowitz, both food professionals, and they offer fun and delicious dishes that just happen to contain no meat.
Many of us these days are semi-vegetarian or even mostly vegetarian without even having taken the conscious decision to banish flesh from our diet. The 21st century presents us with a wider choice of delicious ingredients than ever before. Cheese, grains, vegetables and fruits are found in abundance. We can have a healthy and varied diet and still eat just the fresh produce that is seasonal, plentiful and cheap.
Yes, economy can also be a factor in our vegetarian or almost-vegetarian diet. These times of financial uncertainty focus the mind on ways of maintaining one’s lifestyle while watching the pennies, cents or Euros. Focusing on vegetables rather than meat can be a way of improving health of body and bank-balance.
The recipes here are fascinating. There are wraps, pizzas and pancakes that will entice the younger members of your family away from the greasy foods of the high-street take-away. Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Pizza has a sophisticated and adult topping but the kids will be bound to enjoy the Potato, Nigella and Rosemary alternative. The basic dough recipe is given here so you can mix and match the toppings to suit. You can keep the dough in the fridge for 24 hours, so it makes a practical and fast meal for those days when time is at a premium.
Tex Mex Hot Pot will be the dish for cold winter nights. It’s a hearty plateful of beans, vegetables and spices. It will convert any carnivore, who will hardly notice the lack of beef. Perhaps this is the meal to make for visitors who have never considered that dinner is still dinner even if it does not contain a slab of meat. This is probably my favourite savoury recipe from this volume.
Vegetarians also like desserts. This book isn’t about depriving oneself of the good things in life. The fruit mousses are a delight and would make an attractive end to any smart dinner party. The setting agent is agar agar which is a vegetarian version of gelatine. These are light and refreshing, and the Strawberry Mousse will make the best of that luscious fruit when garnished with the berries in their unadulterated form.
My pick of the book is Fruit Crumble. Oh, yes, you already know how to make that but does your recipe contain chocolate, hazelnuts and cognac? This crumble is decadent and memorable, and in my opinion it’s too good to share. The authors suggest it will feed 4 to 6 people but I am not sure I would want to pass the bowl around.
Vegetarian with a Vengeance is an attractive and practical book that is filled with recipes that one honestly would want to make. Nothing bland and boring here. A book not just for committed vegetarians but more for those who want tasty food. A winner.
Cookbook review: Vegetarian with a Vengeance
Authors: Christine Bille Neilsen and Tina Scheftelowitz
Published by: Grub Street
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018