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Book Review: The Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour by Kim O’Donnel

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Ever host a social event where some of the guests are omnivores, some are vegetarians, some are flexitarians, and some are vegans? Planning the menu is a challenge. The meat is easy — if you’re going to include it, you only need to make enough for the carnivores (or omnivores). Flexitarians are pretty easy to cook for, too, since they’ll eat just about anything (aside from personal taste taboos and allergies). It’s not hard to come up with recipes for vegetarians and vegans, but you’ve got to make enough for everyone, since you don’t know what the omnivores and flexitarians are going to eat. Will they turn their noses up at sautéed tofu, mushrooms, and onions?

My favorite solution to the problem is to find a restaurant that caters to all, which is nearly impossible. My second favorite, when cooking for my family, is to sauté chunks of eggplant, mushrooms, onions, and red pepper with garlic in EVOO, make it into a nice spaghetti sauce, and serve with pasta, salad, and bread. Since I live 700 miles from my family, this doesn’t get old — I seldom have the opportunity to cook for them.

Kim O’Donnel to the rescue! She gives us The Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook, and nearly promises that carnivores will love these recipes. I already love meatless recipes, though I must admit when left to my own devices sometimes I can’t think past mac and cheese, veggie lasagna, or bowties, butter, peas and mushrooms.

You’ve got to love The Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook. Author O’Donnel is severely allergic to mushrooms, and yet the first recipe is for Tara’s Mushroom Ragout — an incredible combination of leek, mushrooms, wine, butter, and cream (as well as a few other ingredients), served over pasta or rice. It is a simple recipe that produces an impressive dish (I’m always impressed by mushrooms).

O’Donnel offers variations of favorites (lasagna, pizza), and instructions for things that should’ve been easy, if you’d only known the timetable (carmelized onions). Some recipes are flexible (pot pie), and some are exotic (Apple, Blue Cheese, & Carmelized Onion topped Pizza). There is even a large selection of gluten-free recipes.

In addition to comfort foods, there are international dishes representing France, Italy, the West Indies, India, Japan, Spain, China, and Jamaica, among other exotic locales. Many recipes include cheese and other dairy products; when cooking for vegans, be prepared to make substitutions (e.g., dairy-free cheese).

Of all the recipes in The Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook, my favorite is also one of the simplest, Susan’s Eggplant Stack. The next recipe on my experimentation list is Stuffed Bell Peppers, a variation that just screams for tinkering. Or maybe it’ll be the Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes…hmmmm….

Cutting down on the amount of meat eaten is a healthful step for most people. The recipes in The Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook allow us to skip the meat without missing it.

Bottom Line: Would I buy The Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook? Yes. I’m looking forward to trying out quite a few of the recipes; I don’t think FCE will mind at all.

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