Vegetable Books

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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

This wasn't a great year for books to tempt vegetarians. In some ways, vegetarians would be better off digging for non-meat recipes in traditional books such as "The Silver Spoon" or Joan Nathan's "The New American Cooking." Still, here are two vegetable-heavy books to consider:

"Vegetable Love," by Barbara Kafka with Christopher Styler (Artisan, $35): Kafka, a respected cookbook author, covers everything from adzuki beans to zucchini in this 700-page book. As a reference volume, it's indispensable. As a cookbook, we had mixed results. A creamy carrot soup spiced with cumin was pleasant, but Radiant Bok Choy, a dish Kafka calls "one of my proudest recipes," was a misguided combination of too much turmeric and salt.

We also found the book's organization perplexing. Kafka organizes the vegetables by their roots, so to speak, with chapters for the New World, Asia and Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin. Unfortunately, if you don't know where your desired vegetable comes from, you're stuck looking it up in the index.

"Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers," by the Moosewood Collective (Clarkson Potter, $32.50): Here's a surprise: A chapter on fish in a cookbook from a restaurant known for its vegetarian cuisine. It's about the only surprise in the 11th book from New York's Moosewood restaurant. The busy weeknight cook will find this collection dependable yet uninspired.


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