Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World's Healthiest Cuisine Hardcover – Oct 30 2007
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“It takes true talent to write a cookbook that will appeal to both neophytes and experts, vegetarians and meat-lovers. For the tenderfoot in the kitchen, this personal introduction to Mediterranean food delivers memorable preparations you'll make over and over. For the expert, it's hard to believe that finally someone has put all our favorite recipes in one place. For the vegetarian, these are delicious all-vegetable recipes. For the omnivore, such as myself, it was two days after reading the book that I realized there were no meat recipes. That's the marraige of a great cuisine with a great cookbook writer.” ―Clifford A. Wright, winner of the James Beard/KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year and the James Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for A Mediterranean Feast
About the Author
MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN is the author of more than 25 books, including Mediterranean Light, the Julia Child Award-winning Provençal Light, and the IACP Award-winning Entertaining Light. Her articles have appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Saveur, the Los Angeles Times, Health Magazine, and other publications. She has taught cooking classes around the country and has been featured on radio and television, including Good Morning America and the Food Network. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
My main frustration with this book is that the author doesn't include estimated cooking times for each recipe. Cooking times are invaluable to me when planning meals: they help me quickly weed out recipes that will take more time than I have available. Unless you read through each recipe, you'll have no idea whether it will take 10 minutes or an hour to prepare.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With a glut of Mediterranean vegetarian cookbooks on the shelves such as The Greek Vegetarian: More Than 100 Recipes Inspired by the Traditional Dishes and Flavors of Greece (Diane Kochilas), Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World (Gil Marks), and The The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen and Vegan Italiano: Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Dishes from Sun-Drenched Italy by Donna Klein, why should you choose the pricey Mediterranean Harvest?
One word: love. Shulman's love of local culture, hidden culinary gems, geography, and regional tastes, her lovely travelogues disguised as recipe introductions, and diary entries from memorable stops along her Mediterranean odyssey, both personal vacations and working in Mediterranean kitchens while researching other cookbooks such as Provencal Light and Mediterranean Light: Delicious Recipes from the World's Healthiest Cuisine(Shulman is author of over 25 books). Also, she touches on some less-commonly-discussed cuisines such as Bosnia, Croatia, and Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, and North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia). There is also a handy index arranged by region.
Shulman's rundown of kitchen equipment and the Mediterranean Pantry (spices, olives and olive oil, cheeses, yogurt, wine, herbs, spice blends, nuts and seeds) is a miracle of compactness, yet provides ample information for the home cook without overwhelming. After a brief section on aperitifs, the all-important topic of breads, pizza, and panini is covered first, since bread serves as the base for many common Mediterranean delicacies such as fattoush (Lebanese bread salad), panzanella (Italian tomato and bread salad), and Castilian garlic soup. Most households couldn't afford to waste stale bread (Tuscan bread was traditionally made without salt), so it was given new life as a base for soups, strata, and vegetable salads (the juices would soften the bread).
The list of sauces and dressings includes such favorites as Salsa Romesco from Spain (almonds, bread, spices, and tomatoes), aioli (garlic mayonnaise) several variations of Italian pesto (basil, olive oil, cheese, and nuts), and yogurt-based sauces common in Greece and the Middle East (tzatziki, skordalia, tahini dressing, chermoula, harissa, and preserved lemons). Tapas / meze (finger food) are given a respectable spread befitting their social importance in the Mediterranean, including Tunisian carrot salad, tabbouleh, several variations of marinated cold veggies, hummus, bean and legume salads, and greens.
The eggs and cheese section captured my heart from its introduction; Shulman recalls a Velazquez painting from 1618 of an old woman cooking eggs, with the simple garnish of onion and olive oil, melon, and wine. Such staples as frittata, Spanish tortilla, omelets, strata, and several varieties of scrambled eggs delight, along with a recipe for homemade ricotta cheese.
The "small catalogue of pasta" (if this is the small catalogue, I'd love to see the large one!) is a chef's dream, and there are numerous sidebars to aid you in properly cooking pasta, making homemade pasta dough, and shaping homemade ravioli and garganelli.
The rest of the book is dedicated to savory pies, gratins, vegetables and beans (stews, sauteed/ pan-fried veggies, potatoes), rice, couscous, and grains (risotto, polenta, pilaf) and topped off on a sweet note with sweets and desserts (biscotti, clafouti, granitas, fruit compotes, ricotta cheesecake, baklava, and dessert couscous). A brief page of online resources for Mediterranean ingredients is included, as well as a select bibliography. Thankfully, sidebars are also included in the index as they are numerous and enlightening.
Overall, this may be the most complete look at Mediterranean cuisine that I've had the pleasure to read, vegetarian or not. Shulman's obvious respect and love for the region and its varied, healthful cuisine shines through every page, and her down-to-earth instructions and informative sidebars add to the experience. The visual design is simple and uncluttered (no photos or line drawings), with the focus appropriately on the magical recipes that transport you around the globe. The recipes are generally straightforward and simple, take advantage of fresh produce (although some shortcuts such as canned tomatoes and canned beans are used), and are delicious. If you're looking for one cookbook that combines the charms of Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, and Middle Eastern cuisine along with delightful commentaries on local culture and dining, Mediterranean Harvest is the book for you.
"I am at a disadvantage since you did not mention in which recipes you found the offending mentions of chicken stock, pancetta or fish, but I am extremely skeptical of this and wonder if, in fact, you are confusing this book with another. I went leafing through my copy and could find no recipes that ask for chicken stock at all. In fact, in the soup section, Shulman mentions that where a traditional Mediterranean soup that might have otherwise been a logicl inclusion would not translate well with a vegetable stock, she left it out rather than try to kluge a vegetarian version together. Elsewhere, she mentions adding parmesan rind to replace the salty umami of pancetta in a recipe. These comments suggest to me that you are mistaken about your assertion that any recipe in this book "calls for" meat - stock or otherwise.
If she mentions in a HEADNOTE that a particular dish was served to her with meat or that it traditionally contains meat, I hardly think that makes this book a non-vegetarian cookbook, but I suppose that is a matter of interpretation.
Finally, since Shulman is translating some dishes that are usually made with meat in their home countries, of course some won't be "authentic." You can't have it both ways - complain that the food isn't traditional enough and then insist that there be no mention of meat. All in all, your complaints do NOT warrant the sole one-star review of this cookbook."
I have not yet made any of the recipes in this book, but I can at least assert that it is indeed a vegetarian cookbook. Not only is a vegetarian cookbook, but it is written by a woman who is clearly passionate about cooking with vegetables. I have bookmarked several dozen recipes and look forward to returning here to write a review of them.