Classic vegetarian cookbook gets a major update

Washington PostJune 10, 2014 

When Deborah Madison wrote “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,” who knew that the title would end up being so close to prophetic? The book has more than 400,000 copies in print.

I wasn’t vegetarian when I started cooking from the book, shortly after its 1997 publication. But I was certainly interested in vegetables. Madison opened up a universe of possibilities for cooking them, and a streamlined, elegant, modern sensibility that made many of the vegetarian cookbooks that came before hers seem fusty by comparison. Madison has continued to write interesting, beloved books since, including last year’s “Vegetable Literacy,” but this year she decided to update her magnum opus.

“The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” (Ten Speed Press, 2014) is an even fresher, honed version of her formidable vision, including an easier-to-read design, 200 more recipes (for a total of more than 1,600), and a new introduction. Out: soy milk and deep-frying. In: coconut oil and the slow-cooker.

“I really want to make it resonate more in the times that we live in,” she told me by phone from her Santa Fe, N.M., home. “There’s a whole new generation of young people who are looking for this kind of information.”

Here are excerpts of our conversation:

Q: How does the book reflect some of the biggest changes in vegetarian cooking over the past two decades?

A: There’s just been kind of an explosion of ingredients. Today you have almond milk, hemp, rice, coconut – all these non-dairy beverages. There are lots more possibilities for smoky flavors.

Back then, if you were a vegetarian and you were trying to work smoke in and you didn’t want to use liquid smoke, your only choice was chipotle, so everything was hot. Now we have smoked paprika and smoked salt, even smoked tea. Ghee has suddenly become popular. It’s not a new ingredient, just new to many of us. Or coconut oil, people are nuts about that. I love it, too.

Dairy has gotten so much better. We have access to grains we didn’t then: einkorn, farro, spelt. We have red and black quinoa.

Certain things I took out. I’ve never been a fan of canola oil, and I am less and less – same with soy oil, same with corn oil. I thought, I’m just leaving them out, even if they’re organic or supposedly GMO-free. So many times those oils are rancid, and there are better fats to choose from anyway.

And I always wanted to label the recipes that happen to be vegan, because so many people use this book because they’re cooking for somebody else – a child, a spouse or a family member – so why not make it easy?

I didn’t try to turn things into vegan recipes; I just labeled things that just happened to be. Romesco sauce just happened to be vegan.

Improving old recipes

Q: Are there things that haven’t changed much, and you don’t think they will? What are the constants?

A: It was a very interesting process to redo a book rather than write a new one. The point wasn’t to write a whole new book, it was to bring things up to date. There are certain American recipes and foods that are constants, for instance, but we can still make them better. Cornbread, that’s a constant, but now maybe you can find freshly milled cornmeal from your farmer’s market or use really great buttermilk and make it even better.

Q: I enjoyed tracking some of the changes between editions. In the original, knives were “your most important tool,” for instance, but in the new one it became your hands, and knives moved to second place.

A: Thanks for noticing that. Hands are not new, but your hands tell you so much. Knives are pretty great, too. I gave a talk at Google, and one young woman said, “Is there anything you would tell me as a new cook?” I said, “Yes, get a really sharp knife and give yourself lots of room to work.” These things are basic and fundamental, and I guess they still have to be said.

More sauteing

Q: And you dropped deep frying from the glossary of basic cooking methods. Why?

A: I realized there is no deep-frying in the book. I just don’t deep-fry. I think a lot of people try to avoid it.

I did want to take out certain recipes that were possibly not appropriate, because they were maybe too complicated, or too rich. One was a risotto gratin, and it’s really good and really rich, and it’s basically risotto that’s baked with lots of butter, and it gets nice and crusty, but I thought, nobody has ever said they make that, and maybe it should go. Then I was giving a talk about that book, and two women said, “You can’t take that out, because we always make it for each other’s birthdays.” Sometimes food is a celebration, so that’s important to remember.

I had a lot of stir-fries in the first book. But I’m not really a stir-fry person, so I went back and looked at the chapter again and pared it way down, and added a group of recipes that are simple sautés; they may use turmeric or chiles or lime, but they don’t require a wok. They’re a little more casual to make.

It’s what I tend to do, when all else fails, and I don’t have an idea or much time. That’s what I like to eat.

What about soy?

Q: You’ve also lost some enthusiasm for soy products, particularly tofu and soy milk.

A: In the ’90s, we behaved like tofu was going to save us. I knew people who just pureed it every morning and ate it plain. Why? Now we know that not so much tofu is better and that fermented forms are best. I left it in because I do think it’s a good food. But in the book I added more with tempeh and miso sauces and toppings.

Q: I’ve grown pretty enamored of tempeh. But it’s a tough sell for some people.

A: It sure is for my husband. But I did learn to make tempeh from scratch – like tofu that you make, it’s so delicious, so delicate, and not like what you buy in the store. But this is not a book about how to make tofu and tempeh; other people have done that extremely well.

Not 100% vegetarian

Q: I’m happy that people don’t seem to harass you for not being totally vegetarian, something you’re very upfront about.

In fact, I noticed that there was just one review on Amazon complaining about that, and dozens of other reviewers jumped to your defense to say that of course it doesn’t matter.

A: I did have 20 years of hands-on experience, so it’s not like I’m jumping on the bandwagon and discovering my inner vegetarian.

I’m doing a book signing ... in Santa Fe, at a butcher shop, with Joseph Shuldiner, who wrote “Pure Vegan.” He sent it to me and I thought, “You can’t possibly be vegan, this is way too much fun.”

We’re both coming from the same point of view. We’re not interested in fundamental lifestyles of vegetarianism and veganism. We’re interested in integrity, which is the same as the person who started the butcher shop. The meat is local, it’s grass-fed, it’s from here. And we admire that.

It’s not about saying no to this or no to that. It can be if you want, or it can be that you simply want to eat some vegetables.

Mung Beans and Rice

With Spicy Tomatoes

The mung beans and rice and the spicy tomatoes can be refrigerated (separately) for up to 1 week; rewarm each on the stove top or in a low oven with a little water before combining and serving. Adapted from “The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press, 2014).

3/4 cup whole green mung beans

1 cup long-grain white rice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 1/4 teaspoons dill seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1 or 2 jalapeno peppers (to taste), seeded and finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

1/2 cup whole-milk or low-fat yogurt (optional)

IN separate bowls, cover the beans and rice with water.

USE a mortar and pestle or a food processor to pound or puree the cilantro, garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne.

HEAT 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a 12-cup saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin seed and 1 teaspoon of the dill seed. Cook until the onion starts to take on color, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the cilantro mixture and cook for 3 minutes.

DRAIN the beans and add them to the saucepan along with 4 cups of water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, keeping the liquid barely bubbling. Drain the rice, add it to the pot and cook, covered, for 18 more minutes or until both the rice and beans are tender and the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

HEAT the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of dill along with the jalapenos. Cook until the seeds start to brown, just for a few minutes, then raise the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.

SERVE the rice and beans warm, garnished with the tomatoes, yogurt (if using) and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Per serving (based on 6): 310 calories, 9 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 540 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Tangerine Pudding Cakes

With Raspberry Coulis

The baked cakes can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months; defrost before serving, and reheat in a low oven if desired. The coulis can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 6 months. Adapted from Madison’s “The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” (Ten Speed Press, 2014).

For the cakes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the ramekins

3 large eggs, separated

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated tangerine zest, plus 1/3 cup fresh tangerine juice (from 2 to 4 tangerines)

1 cup whole milk or light cream

3 tablespoons flour

Softly whipped cream, for serving

For the coulis

2/3 cup water

3 tablespoons organic sugar, plus more to taste

3 cups frozen organic, unsweetened raspberries

3 tablespoons orange muscat wine or other sweet wine (optional)

1 teaspoon fresh tangerine juice, plus more to taste

HEAT the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter eight 4-ounce or six larger ramekins or custard cups and seat them in a roasting or baking pan large enough to hold them all with a bit of space around each one. Boil a kettle of water for the bain-marie (water bath).

COMBINE the egg whites and salt in the grease-free bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until foamy; increase the speed and gradually add 2 tablespoons of the sugar, beating to form thick, glossy peaks. Scrape into a large bowl.

RINSE out the mixing bowl, wipe it dry and return it to the mixer. Switch to the paddle attachment. Beat the 3 tablespoons of butter with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the tangerine zest until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating to incorporate before each addition. Gradually pour in the milk and juice, then sift in the flour, beating on low speed until combined. (A few lumps are okay.)

POUR the batter over the whites and fold them together. Distribute evenly among the ramekins or custard cups. Place the pan on the middle oven rack (pulled out halfway), then pour enough of the just-boiled water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins or cups (to create the bain-marie). Bake for about 30 minutes, until the tops have risen and are golden; they should spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.

MEANWHILE, make the coulis: Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and give it a stir, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the mixture is gently bubbling; cook until the sugar has dissolved.

STIR in the raspberries; cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and let the fruit stand in the syrup for 5 minutes. Force the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl; discard the solids. Stir in the wine, if using, and the juice. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

REMOVE the pudding cakes from the water bath. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Drizzle sauce over each pudding cake; top each one with a small cloud of whipped cream.

Per serving (based on 8, using whole milk): 270 calories, 4 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 43 g sugar

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Edamame and Sesame Puree

Adapted from “The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press, 2014).

1 1 /2 cups shelled fresh or frozen edamame (green soybeans)

Sea salt

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds, toasted (see Note)

1 scallion, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

BRING a few cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the edamame and a few pinches of salt; reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the water is gently bubbling. Cook until the edamame are tender, about 4 minutes, then drain, reserving at least 1 cup of the cooking water.

TRANSFER the edamame to a food processor along with the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of the oil. Pulse, adding the reserved cooking water as needed to make the mixture smooth and creamy – about 1/2 cup or more. Stir in the teaspoon of lemon juice, and taste; add lemon juice and salt as needed.

SCRAPE the puree into a shallow bowl and run a knife back and forth over the top to smooth it. Drizzle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil over the top, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds and scallion.

SERVE at room temperature on crackers.

Note: Heat the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant, 4 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully; they burn easily.

Per serving: 60 calories, 4 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

Yield: 6 servings (makes about 1 1/2 cups).

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