cover image The Big Book of Vegetarian

The Big Book of Vegetarian

Kathy Farrell-Kingsley. Chronicle Books, $19.95 (319pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-4116-0

This volume, part of Chronicle's ""Big Book"" series, offers easy--if not particularly groundbreaking--vegetarian dishes, ranging from filling breakfast breads and fritattas to familiar, homey desserts. Many of the selections, while tasty, lean toward the crunchy whole-grain school of vegetarian cooking; dishes like the assertively hearty Wheat Berry Waldorf and the Wild and Brown Rice Pilaf bring to mind folk music, morning glory muffins and organic food collectives. However, other dishes are decidedly more sophisticated; the Tomato Basil Galette is seductive when made with ripe tomatoes, and Chickpea Burgers with Tahini Dressing are fragrant with cumin, garlic and lemon zest. And even though many of the offerings aren't eye-opening (what vegetarian doesn't already know how to make pasta and black bean soup?) there are several good, unexpected wheat-free and vegan choices. Vegan desserts are especially well represented, with offerings like Baked Apples with Walnuts, Ginger-Poached Pears and Chocolate Majesty Cake made with silken tofu. Finally, while the back-to-basics layout of the book includes no pictures, the step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and certain to engage even the most kitchen-phobic vegetarian.