ASKING VEGETARIANS INCREDULOUSLY how they get their protein is more than a cliche — it’s also a slap in the face to cookbook authors such as Lynn Alley, author of “The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker” ($20, Ten Speed Press). Her new book offers a passport full of meat-free global eats, with rejiggerings of the greatest hits of your favorite takeout spots, from Italian polenta lasagna to Japanese-style braised tofu. The book gives both vegetarians and omnivores a sophisticated excuse to pull out that dusty slow-cooker Great-Aunt Helga gave you for Christmas in 2002.

» Best For: Home cooks looking to spice up their eating ruts with easy, hearty fare.

» Recipes We’re Dying to Try: Minted Potato and Chickpea Curry, Mexican Chocolate Pudding Cake, Polenta Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce and Armenian Apricot Soup.

Written by Express contributor Katie Knorovsky