Marie Simmons loves bold, imaginative flavors from around the world, and her magically simple combinations have been featured in many magazines, from Redbook to Bon Appétit, where she was a popular columnist, and in her award-winning cookbooks. Over the years, she has come to rely more and more on vegetables and grains, because, as she says, "They taste good and they make me feel better."
Now, in Fresh & Fast Vegetarian, she offers up more than 150 of her favorite dinners. Most can be made in half an hour or less, and for each one, Simmons provides an equally easy accompaniment. Like Roasted Vegetables and Mozzarella Quesadillas, some are meals in themselves, while others are smaller dishes that can be paired to create a quick but sumptuous dinner. A number of Simmons's nearly effortless, vibrant recipes are vegan. Each tells exactly how long it will take to prepare. Fresh & Fast Vegetarian also provides hundreds of tips for shortcuts and substitutions.
Simmons, a James Beard Award winning cooking teacher and former Bon Appetit columnist, describes herself as "mostly vegetarian." In her newest book (after Things Cooks Love) she presents more than 150 meat-free recipes (including many vegan entries), from soups and salads to main dishes and sides. Each features a suggestion for how to make a meal that includes the dish for example, with curried quinoa and apple salad with dried cranberries, she suggests serving her red lentil soup with coconut milk and toasted cumin. Recipes do live up to the book's title: they feature fresh ingredients and they can be made quickly, generally in 30 to 45 minutes. And while they aren't exactly groundbreaking, the recipes such as double-corn and jalapeno polenta gratin; roasted sweet potatoes topped with black bean chili, and a chickpea spread made with pomegranate molasses are definitely appealing, and a notch or two more interesting and sophisticated than standard vegetarian fare. She doesn't fill space with dessert recipes, but instead focuses on savory foods that would work well for reasonably quick weeknight dinners, making this a practical resource for those who want to add more easy meatless options to their repertoire.