The Cookbook Reviewer: A Community Blog

Food writer and recipe tester Linda Avery reviews cookbooks.


Written by Linda Avery, Community Blogger | Dec 11, 2013 7:00 AM

Feast bookcover.r.jpg

Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for any Eater and Every Appetite

by Sarah Copeland
Photographs © 2013 Yunhee Kim

Facts: Chronicle Books, 288 pages, $35.00 (or Amazon Hardcover $22.14, Kindle $13.99)
Photos: about 71
Recipes: 121

Sarah Copeland dubs herself an unlikely vegetarian. Mom and Dad had been raised on farms where the protein of choice was meat and that continued through Sarah upbringing. Over the years she experienced a slow evolution in her diet to eating more salads, veggies, and cheeses, particularly at home.

Then, the man she married was a vegetarian and she found herself thinking that the foods that surrounded the meat were more exciting, and over time there was less and less interest in meat.

Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for any Eater and Every Appetite begins with Copeland's explanation of the vegetarian larder—a discussion of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and spices, and allows for dairy and even fish (pescatarian) as well. In addition, she notes what is essential for an Asian larder and how to store certain items. Most importantly, there is a discussion on nutrition, i.e., sources for plant-based iron and Omega-3s, plus seafood sources for Omega-3s.

The nine chapters are nicely varied beginning with recipes for Breakfast & Brunch and ending with Pickles, Sauces & Such (I asked myself "why didn't she end with Sweets?" and then wondered where would the pickles go?). In the middle are chapters dubbed Little Meals, Meals in a Bowl and Platefuls, among others.

And, she does a neat thing in each chapter: one recipe is presented with four seasonal swaps. Take Caprese for example: Spring = Pea Mash with Burrata and Mint; Summer = Heirloom Tomatoes with Burrata; Fall = Beets and Ricotta; Winter = Lentils and Mozzarella.  The final chapters Prep School, Essential Tools, and Sources round out the book nicely.

This polenta dish is perfect for a stick-to-your-ribs winter choice.

Polenta With Winter Salad, Poached Egg, And Blue Cheese


Photo © 2013 Yunhee Kim

Serves 4

3 1/2 cups/840 ml water
1 cup/140 g polenta
Sea salt
1 1/4 cups/300 ml whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce/30 g cheddar or Dubliner cheese, grated
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 small head radicchio, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 head frisée, torn into bite-size pieces
Dash white or regular balsamic vinegar
4 large eggs, poached
1 to 2 ounces/30 to 55 g Danish blue, Roquefort, Valdeon blue, or Gorgonzola cheese

1. Bring 3 cups/720 ml of the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly add the polenta, stir with a wooden spoon, and add 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is tender and fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Add the milk, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the cheddar to the polenta and stir together over medium-low heat until just warmed through and soft enough to drop easily from a spoon, a few minutes more. Cover to keep warm.

2. Heat the olive oil in your largest skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are charred and have burst, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the radicchio and frisée and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, the remaining ½ cup/120 ml water, and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and toss together.

3. Spoon the polenta into bowls and top with the salad and poached eggs. Crumble the blue cheese over the top before serving.

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