21 September 2019

Weekend Cooking: The Forest Feast: Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson

Review of The Forest Feast: Mediterranean by Erin GleesonWhen The Forest Feast: Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson (Abrams, Sept. 17) appeared on my doorstep (thanks to the Abrams Dinner Party), I think I let out a huge Woop! I learned about the Forest Feast last year, when another member of the Abrams Dinner Party shared a black pepper shortbread recipe from one of Gleeson’s earlier cookbooks.

That recipe was so easy and so delicious, I immediately went to the Forest Feast website to explore some more. While there, I signed up for Gleeson’s newsletter. Then I ordered two of her cookbooks. I guess you could say I’m a fan.

The first thing you’ll notice when you open a Gleeson cookbook, is just how absolutely gorgeous it is. Each page is a work of art, with photos, drawings, interesting fonts, and beautiful colors (see the scans; click to enlarge). The second thing is that the vast majority of the recipes are what I would call “simple perfection,” meaning they are easy to make, pretty to look at, and incredibly yummy.

Review of The Forest Feast: Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson

The Forest Feast: Mediterranean is the result of a three-month journey Gleeson took with her husband and young sons. They traveled from Spain to France and to Italy and then went west to Portugal, before flying from Madrid home to California. They stayed in some places for a month and others for a week, and spent a lot of time exploring, photographing, and tasting and eating.

The recipes in The Forest Feast: Mediterranean are adapted from the food the Gleesons discovered on their trip. As Erin says, “the recipes . . . are inspired by the local dishes and ingredients we saw”; they are not necessarily authentic. I say, authentic shmawthentic: the flavors are spot-on.

Another aspect of the this cookbook I appreciate is that all the ingredients are readily available, even in my small town. Pasta, vegetables, fruits, and grains form the foundation of the dishes Gleeson created. No need to order special spices or exotic sauces; just pop down to your regular grocery.

Review of The Forest Feast: Mediterranean by Erin GleesonI’ve had very few cookbooks over the years that beg me to make pretty much every single recipe found within the covers, and Forest Feast: Mediterranean is now in that elite club. I truly want to try all the snacks, salads, side dishes, and pastas as well as the cocktails and desserts.
  • Avocado and Bean Salad • Farro–Cucumber Salad
  • Onion and Fig Tartines • Portobello Empanadas
  • Gnocchi and Cauliflower Casserole • Spaghetti with Chard and Garlic
  • Parmesan-Crusted Tomatoes • Herbes de Provence Winter Vegetables
The pasta dish shown above at the right (my photo) was inspired by Gleeson’s Lemony Pasta Fagioli recipe, which was presented as a simple side dish. I doubled the orecchiette and added some blanched kale to turn it into a main dish that lasted two nights. One of the secrets to this recipe is the blanched and sautéed very thin lemon slices. Seriously delicious.

Recommendation: In case you couldn’t tell, I wholeheartedly recommend this cookbook to everyone—experienced and relatively new cooks alike. The recipes are all vegetarian (not vegan), but omnivores need not shy away. I promise I haven’t finished with Erin Gleeson’s Forest Feast: Mediterranean: I bet we eat at least one dish from this cookbook every single week for many months to come. Meal planning just got dead easy.

Review of The Forest Feast: Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson

As proof for how easy it is to re-create Gleenson’s Forest Feast: Mediterranean dishes, see my photo of the following sweet potato recipe. [Note from BFR: I liked the leftovers cold with lunch.]

Sweet Potatoes with Feta Dressing
Serves 4
  1. Review of The Forest Feast: Mediterranean by Erin GleesonCube 4 medium sweet potatoes (no need to peel) & lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. Roast at 425°F (220°C) for 30 min or until fork-tender.
  3. For the dressing, use an immersion blender to combine 2 tablespoons milk, ⅓ cup (50 g) crumbled feta, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar & a pinch of nutmeg.
  4. Drizzle potatoes with the desired amount of dressing & sprinkle with chopped scallions. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: Recipe and scans are used here in the context of a review and as part of the Abrams Dinner Party. All rights remain with the original copyright holders.

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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rhapsodyinbooks 9/21/19, 6:23 AM  

This one looks fantastic, and totally in line with my tastes. Thanks for letting us know about it - gives me a perfect activity for this afternoon to go look for it! :--)

Diane Standish(crazeedi) 9/21/19, 7:27 AM  

Great review, everything looks and sounds yummy!

Mae Travels 9/21/19, 7:30 AM  

Your cookbook author appears to have a fabulous imagination for combining Mediterranean tastes. As you say, who cares about authenticity (for which you can't make a sensible definition anyway).

I linked my climate-strike rally post even though it doesn't have explicit food in it, because if the climate changes as much as predicted everything about food as we know it will change for the worse.

have a good weekend! ... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

bermudaonion 9/21/19, 7:45 AM  

What a gorgeous cookbook. I want to get a closer look at it.

Jackie McGuinness 9/21/19, 8:09 AM  

The word affogato features in my post too!!!

I am going to check out the websites mentioned.

BTW you look fabulous in pink!

gluten Free A_Z Blog 9/21/19, 8:11 AM  

Sounds like lots of recipes I would enjoy too.. what a recommendation that you would like to try every recipe. If I find 3 or 4 in a cookbook, I consider it a good find! I'll have to check this cookbook out ( library I hope) ..

jama 9/21/19, 9:11 AM  

Excited to hear about a new Forest Feast book! I loved the other ones (and reviewed the Forest Feast for Kids). They're all gorgeous and I can't wait to see this one.

Tina 9/21/19, 10:01 AM  

Oh Yes! I can tell you are a fan and I think I will head over to that website. That's a beautiful book. I have one about Mediterranean cooking with similar artwork and I will have to share that one day.

All the dishes you have mentioned are appealing to me. You make me want to apply to Abrams dinner party next year!

Abigail Pearson 9/21/19, 3:10 PM  

Wow this cookbook looks and sounds amazing!

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