Southwestern Vegetarian

Stephan Pyles, Author, Katie Workman, Editor Clarkson N Potter Publishers $30 (224p) ISBN 978-0-609-60118-1
Right up front, in the first paragraph of his introduction, Pyles (New Tastes from Texas and host of a PBS series) points out that he's a fifth-generation Texan. It could be that the James Beard Award winner is a little nervous, presenting a Texas-inspired cookbook that leaves out the meat. But times and tastes are changing, even in the Lone Star state. This collection offers a variety of dishes that use traditional Southwestern ingredients in newfangled--and occasionally eyebrow-raising--ways. Dishes feature chiles and nopales (the pads of the prickly pear cactus), tortillas and beans, and there are slaws and fritters, refried beans and empanadas. All demonstrate Pyles's comfort with a range of cuisines. The chapter on preserves, for example, is eclectic enough to include the old favorite Bread and Butter Pickles as well as Chipotle Aioli, a Southwestern take on the traditional French dipping sauce. And so it goes throughout the book, from soups and salads to main course casseroles, brunch ideas and desserts. There is Jicama-Mango Tortilla Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Roasted Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Fried Scallions, plus a variety of mashed potato dishes. There are times, though, when Pyles ought to leave well enough alone. Green Chile-Pineapple Risotto? Cilantro Ravioli? This book isn't for those who prefer quick-and-easy cooking, but the recipes will surely grab the cook's attention, bringing vegetarian cooking to a whole new level. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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