by Robin Robertson
2007, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Even if you don’t know Robin Robertson by name, you probably know her cookbooks. She’s responsible for over a dozen cookbooks, including the omnivore favorite Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes, the clever Apocalypse Chow (recipes to make when the power goes out), and the enormous Vegan Planet. Robin’s recipes are accessible yet varied, a testament to her 25 years as a chef, caterer, cooking instructor, and food columnist. Quick-Fix Vegetarian: Healthy Home-Cooked meals in 30 Minutes or Less is Robin’s latest, offering up (as the title suggests), fast and easy meals for those in a rush. All recipes are vegan, even though the title avoids saying so outright.
The chapters are pretty much what you’d expect, covering everything from appetizers to sauces to sandwiches and desserts. There’s also a chapter on slow-cooking and “one-dish wonders.” There are 150 recipes in just under 200 pages, each recipe featuring a one paragraph introduction, something I really appreciate in cookbooks. I like context to a recipe before trying it.
We’ve made a number of the recipes over the last couple of months and they’ve all come out nicely. The Potato “Dosadillas” are an interesting dosa-quesadilla hybrid. We thought they needed a little more spice (which could be because we doubled the amount of peas), but they were surprisingly good and easy. The Curried Couscous and Vegetables is another simple dish that stretches a long way. A few minutes in the kitchen will serve you well for dinner and several lunches thereafter. The Couscous Shepherd’s Pie was also plentiful — the only change we’d make to this one is to steam the tempeh first if you use it instead of veggie crumbles or tofu.
Perhaps the best recipe we’ve made thus far is the Panko-Crusted Tofu Cutlets with Lemon-Caper Sauce. Panko is basically flaky Japanese breadcrumbs and it provides a great crust when fried up on the tofu. And the sour-salty combination of the sauce is wicked good. The only complaint here was that it took significantly longer than 30 minutes to make (we had a similar issue with the Stir-Fried Tofu and Vegetable Teriyaki). That said, it was well worth the effort.
Even if you have some of Robin’s other books, you’ll probably want to take a peek at this one. There are a number of other interesting recipes I’m looking forward to trying: PDQ Pot Pie (the pot pie from Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes is a holiday stand-by around here), Green Onion Hummus with Lime, and Linguine with Edamame Pesto are all on our to-make list.
The book is simply laid out and the recipes are easy to follow, with one per page. The only complaint I have is the same one I’ve had with a few other of Robin’s books: there are no pictures of any recipes. Sure, there are some food pictures, but they’re all stock photos, and that’s no fun. People are inspired by seeing food photos, which is why food blogs are so popular. It’s a shame that there aren’t even a few nice color panels in the middle of the book.
So, thumbs up for Quick-Fix Vegetarian. A few recipes took longer than the promised 30 minutes, but the results have all been quite good so far. I suspect a year from now, this will be a well-worn book on our kitchen shelf.