05 May 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review: A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop

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Do you know Jack Bishop? If you're on the America's Test Kitchen bandwagon, have watched The Today Show, or have subscribed to Cooks Illustrated magazine, you'll probably recognize his name. I've been a fan of his for many years and own most of his cookbooks. One that sits within easy reach of the kitchen, especially in the summer, is A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.

Bishop's recipes are inspired by a global perspective, and you'll find dishes with Mexican, Caribbean, Italian, French, Spanish, Indian, and Asian flavors. There is nothing boring in this book. And better yet, Bishop does not rely on soy and soy protein products to make meat dishes into vegetarian.

Instead he calls for mostly fresh ingredients, rounded out by some canned items when necessary (such as coconut milk or beans). In addition, Bishop's recipes will encourage you to push your food envelope. He may call for ingredients you've never used before (or maybe never heard of), but they are readily available. Despite complaining about unusual ingredients last week, I love to try new dishes and to learn to cook with new foods, but I hate being frustrated when it comes to tracking them down. So I'm happy this isn't an issue with A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.

To make using the cookbook especially easy, Bishop provides dozens of sidebars describing ingredients, dishes, tips, and techniques. I turn to that information time and again:
  • What are the best tomatoes for homemade salsa?
  • What are some seasoning ideas for roasted potatoes?
  • How can I add more flavor to a bean-based soup?
  • What's the secret to great mac and cheese?
The book is divided into seasons and includes suggested menus and a section on everyday basics. The subtitle of the book is Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends, and the recipes are very doable for almost every cook. One encouraging fact is that Bishop cooks vegetarian meals at home almost every day. This means he has a pretty broad repertoire and some tricks to get fresh meals on the table even after a busy day. It's also important to know that at the time he wrote the book, he had two small children, so he really does have a clue about feeding kids.

This is a great reference for those of you who are already vegetarian but want new ideas and for those who want to cook vegetarian a few times a week. Are you running out of ideas for your CSA basket? Look to Jack Bishop. Vegans will be well-pleased with A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen; if the dish isn't already vegan you won't have any trouble making it so.

I've made many dishes out this cookbook, but I'll share one that's a favorite and appropriate for Cinco de Mayo. These burritos are good even without the tortillas; just serve the filling on the rice and top with sour cream and salsa. The recipe is easy to adjust to what you have on hand: I've used kale and spinach instead of the chard, and we usually use brown rice (though it takes longer to cook). In the winter when tomatoes are hard to get, I use store-bought chipotle salsa. We also like to add cilantro to the burritos before rolling them up.

Chard Burritos with Tomato-Chipotle Salsa

Serves 4 as a main course

Bishop's note: The chunky salsa--more like a diced tomato salad--adds substance to these burritos. I prepare this recipe when I have some leftover rice on hand, because the rice doesn't need to be hot. Just bring it to room temperature before using it if it's been refrigerated.

Tomato-Chipotle Salsa
  • 1 pound tomatoes, cored and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 small chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
  • salt
Chard Burritos
  • 1 pound chard, preferably rainbow, leaves washed, shaken dry to remove excess water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • salt
  • 4 large flour tortillas (12-inches in diameter), warmed one at a time in a large skillet
  • 2 cups cooked white rice (from 2/3 cup raw rice)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
For the salsa: Combine the tomatoes, chile, oregano, and salt to taste in a medium bowl. Set aside.

For the burritos: With a chef's knife, separate the fleshy stalk from the green portion of each chard leaf. Trim the ends of the stalks and chop fine.You should have about 2½ cups chopped stalks. Stack the leaves and slice them crosswise into ½-inch -thick strips. You should have about 8 packed cups of sliced leaves.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and chard stalks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chard leaves (it's best if they are still slightly damp from washing) and salt to taste. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 7 minutes. If the greens are soupy, remove the cover and simmer for a minute or two. Adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, if necessary.

To serve: Lay the warmed tortillas flat on a work surface. Spoon ½ cup of the rice over the bottom of each tortilla. Top with some chard (about ½ cup) and 1 tablespoon sour cream. Roll the tortillas, tucking the sides toward the center to form neat bundles. Slice each burrito in half and serve, passing the salsa at the table.

Buy A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004
ISBN-13: 9780618239979
Rating: A
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Too Fond 5/5/12, 7:39 AM  

Looks good! We're doing Mexican tonight for Cinco de Mayo, but we're having fajitas and not burritos.

Lisa@ButteryBooks 5/5/12, 7:42 AM  

Happy Cinco de Mayo! This recipe, along with a Mexican martini, would be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday.

Libby 5/5/12, 7:44 AM  

The chard burritos sound good! Actually the whole book sounds good - I love the cover! I like the idea of the informative little sidebars too...thanks!

caite 5/5/12, 7:49 AM  

I don't think I have ever had chard! this sounds so good..

Rikki 5/5/12, 7:58 AM  

I never would have thought of combining chard with burritos, but this sounds really nice. I will have a closer look at this book. I am sure it is a great resource. Thanks!

SprungAtLast 5/5/12, 8:32 AM  

OK, every time I stop by here for Weekend Cooking I discover another cookbook that I don't have yet and really need to buy ... this one sounds great, especially the fact that he understands kid eating! Thanks for another great idea.

Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook 5/5/12, 8:37 AM  

I've never had chard, and I'd like to try. A burrito sounds like a great introduction, it sounds delicious. Have a great weekend!

Peggy Ann,  5/5/12, 8:49 AM  

Sounds good Beth. I'm one of those who would like to incorporate more veggie dishes but not sure how to go about that. This sounds right for me! Not posting today just visiting.

Julie P. 5/5/12, 8:50 AM  

In theory, I'd love to cook more vegetarian dishes, but they just don't seem to fly in my house.

stacybuckeye 5/5/12, 9:38 AM  

I'm trying to serve more vegetarian around here, but my husband's resisting!

Beth S. 5/5/12, 9:56 AM  

This book sounds fabulous! Off to see if my library has it...

Anonymous,  5/5/12, 10:16 AM  

So what is the secret to great mac 'n cheese??

Christine 5/5/12, 10:45 AM  

This cookbook sounds fabulous! Exactly the kind of cookbook I love these days.. fresh, wholesome ingredients, familiar recipes with unique flair, and ethnic variety. Sidebar tips and tidbits sometimes reveal the best cooking secrets. I am checking this one out for sure.

I subscribed to Cooks Illustrated for a while .. I don't anymore, but I do pick up an issue from the newsstand now and then. I love their magazine.

Chinoiseries 5/5/12, 10:50 AM  

Cinco de Mayo always coincides with Dutch Liberation Day, which means that we get to celebrate our freedom with delicious Mexican food every year!

This cookbook looks like a great reference book, I hadn't heard of it before but will have to wishlist it now!
The recipe sounds easy and delicious. Time to find some chard...

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 5/5/12, 11:16 AM  

This might be a good book to add to our kitchen shelves, with my 14 yr old's new vegetarian regimen!

Jack Bishop is a wonderful chef, and his explanations (on the page and on the ATK shows) are always clear; quite a range of food he cooks, too -- seems his specialty is "everything!" A talented family, his wife wrote that COOKIE SWAP book I love.

Uniflame 5/5/12, 11:16 AM  

This sounds so good, that I might have to hop over to the book depository to buy iy :D Thanks for the great review :)

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/5/12, 11:29 AM  

What a terrific Cinco de Mayo recipe, thanks for sharing. My nephew is eating vegan, and I think he would like this book.

Daryl 5/5/12, 1:10 PM  

I am recycling the CDP theme photo .. bakeries ..

Linda 5/5/12, 1:18 PM  

Sounds like a great cookbook. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Heidenkind 5/5/12, 1:55 PM  

So it's kind of like a Chipotle burrito bowl?

Peaceful Reader 5/5/12, 2:21 PM  

This sounds delicious. I think I need this cookbook! Thank you for the recipe; this could go on this week's menu planning.

Carole 5/5/12, 3:47 PM  

Thanks, Beth. Sorry I couldn't find a veggie post to link up!

Unknown 5/5/12, 7:08 PM  

This cookbook sounds really great - I need to check it out. While I'm not a complete vegetarian, I eat meat infrequently. Except for bacon. I like to pretend that bacon is its own thing - separate from all other meat.

Joanna 5/5/12, 10:12 PM  

These sound so good! I rarely cook Mexican food at home, for some reason. It's not difficult, but we have a wonderful Mexican place near us -- eating in or taking out is so much easier than cooking sometimes!

Joy Weese Moll 5/5/12, 10:48 PM  

That looks like a terrific cookbook. I've got chard almost ready to harvest in the garden. Those burritos would be a great use!

Heather S-G 5/6/12, 9:43 AM  

Oh yeah - Jack Bishop! I wouldn't have recognized him by just the name, but I know who he is now. This sounds like a good book to have around. If for those burritos alone... YUM!

Gilion at Rose City Reader 5/6/12, 11:45 AM  

It's good to have at least one vegetarian cookbook for inspiration. I figure I can always add bacon to make something palatable. :)

Karen White 5/6/12, 1:09 PM  

I have this book - it's great. Almost better is an older book of his called VEGETABLES EVERY DAY. It goes through a long list of veggies - common and not - and talks about how to choose them, the best basic way to cook each, then has a bunch of recipes for each. Excellent resource.

laura 5/6/12, 3:35 PM  

I agree that you should never discount a book just because it is labeled "vegetarian" or "vegan." I am a very proud omnivore and we all need our veggie days! This looks like a great resource...thanks for reviewing it!

joanna 5/7/12, 5:44 AM  

That book looks great! I never know what to with chard and in fact just opted out of it for this week's veg box. Next time!

JaneofAustralia 5/7/12, 11:36 PM  

ooo being the White Rabbit here ' I'm late / I'm late / For a very important date. / No time to say "Hello, Goodbye". / I'm late, I'm late, I'm late'
Alice in Wonderland.
But hey I got here....

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog 5/8/12, 7:47 PM  

yum!! i absolutely love vegetarian recipes! thank you for sharing!

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