Jeanne Lemlin sets the standard for accessible and appealing vegetarian cooking. Vegetarian Classics is Jeanne's most useful and comprehensive book to date: an essential collection of 300 no-fail recipes for soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, calzones, casseroles, stir-fries, stove-top dishes, sides, snacks, desserts, and breakfasts. Each recipe is deeply satisfying and surprisingly simple, reflecting Jeanne's trademark dedication to uncomplicated techniques and unparalleled flavor.
In this ideal starter book, Lemlin (Vegetarian Pleasures; Simple Vegetarian Pleasures) presents the comfort foods that have sustained the vegetarian movement for the past 40 years. She introduces the new vegetarian to staples like bulgur, wheat berries and rice in a helpful guide to ingredients, along with a few standard recipes such as Classic Tabbouli, Classic Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Classic Lentil Soup. Yet Lemlin isn't puritanical; eschewing the heavy lentil and sunflower-seed loafs of yesteryear, she encourages cooking that is "more in keeping with our need for pleasure." Thus, she includes Tortellini with Spinach, Garlic and Smoked Cheese but not, say, Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Tofu and Tomato Sauce. Still, there's little here to satisfy the gourmand: some dishes are bland (Chickpea Soup with Garlic Crostini), all of the tart dishes call for frozen puff pastry and bread crumbs appear in otherwise respectable recipes (Crustless Yellow Squash, Red Pepper and Spinach Pie and Greens, Potato and Feta Cheese Pie). However, the dessert chapter, with Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread and Lemon Almond Cake, will satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth. Too many vegetarian cookbook writers forget the joys of white flour, but not Lemlin: homey recipes like Ginger Cream Scones, Best-Ever Doughnuts and even a popover recipe make this a must-have for beginning bakers and vegetarians alike.