Title: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook
Author: Kim O’Donnel
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books
Source: Curled Up With a Good Book
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook is a cookbook aimed at those trying to cut meat out of their diet, at least partially. Its aim is not to make the reader a vegetarian or convince people about the evils of eating meat. Instead, Kim O’Donnel explains that, on average, Americans eat a lot more meat than they need to be healthy. Too much meat, in fact. This cookbook aims to help readers find ways to lessen the amount of meat they eat. O’Donnel accomplishes this by presenting a challenge to the reader at the beginning of the book: go without meat one day per week.
For my household (composed of just my husband and me), this wasn’t that big of a challenge – usually, at least half the meals I cook are vegetarian because I was raised that way. While we did eat meat growing up, my mother was vegetarian and, as a result, meat was not cooked in our house. My husband doesn’t mind eating less meat, though I do struggle sometimes to find good vegetarian recipes. Therefore, when I saw this cookbook, I knew I wanted to try it.
Since The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook relies on vegetables (clearly!), it is divided into sections based on seasons. This makes it easy for the reader to choose a recipe with vegetables that will be in season. However, O’Donnel encourages the reader to use the divisions as a guide and not a bible – if something in a different season speaks to you, you should feel free to cook it. The dishes are paired such that each recipe has a main and side dish suggestion. Additionally, certain dishes are labeled as gluten free, dairy optional, and vegan, in case any of those are concerns for you.
I took O’Donnel’s advice – even though it was fall, I chose a summer recipe as my first. I made Zucchini & Corn-Studded Orzo as my first dish. It was definitely delicious and I knew it was healthy. I appreciated that it was pretty loaded with vegetables too. It didn’t take very long to make and was pretty easy to throw together. Additionally, the ingredient list wasn’t horribly long.
My husband enjoyed this dish as well, but I think he might have felt it was lacking without the side dish: Goat Cheesy Roasted Peppers. These were easy as well, but they were messy and the presentation was pretty horrible (hence the lack of a picture). They did taste wonderful though, so I can’t really complain!
A week later, I tried the Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes, but my husband is so I thought that, since this dish was savory rather than sweet, I might like it better. Once again, the prep was easy, but neither my husband nor I loved these. There is uncooked garlic in the recipe and it was just overpowering. I might be willing to make these again, but I’d mince and sauté the garlic before putting it in the food processor next time. They did turn out beautifully though!
Along with the sweet potatoes, I made the suggested side, Pear-Arugula Salad. This dish was really a winner – it’s definitely one of the best salads I’ve ever had! It was substantial, so if you added some grilled chicken or steak to it, it could definitely be a meal on its own. In fact, we both enjoyed it so much that I think I’ll be doing that next time. It took about 5 minutes to prep and throw together, so it was incredibly easy as well.
(I apologize that the beer glass is just as prominent in this picture than the food. I asked my husband to take it; clearly, we can see what he thought the most important element was!)
Overall, I was very happy with the quality of the food in The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook. It tasted good and was relatively easy to prepare. I do have a few complaints about the cookbook, though.
First, I don’t feel like the cookbook is aesthetically pleasing. Instead of glossy pages with pictures accompanying every recipe, it has those soft pages that really soak up liquid (not a great idea in a cookbook), with a few choice recipe shots in the center of the book. Presentation is really important to me in a cookbook, as when I’m in a store I’m more likely to pick up one that catches my eye with great shots and colors (superficial, I know). I wasn’t thrilled with the way this one was presented.
Second, there are no time estimates on the recipes. This drove me a little crazy, as I was going through the recipe and adding times in order to determine how long they would take to make! It’s especially important because they take varying amounts of time; I had to roast the sweet potatoes for an hour before I could make them. I usually go by the Prep Time/Cook Time estimates in recipes to assign dishes to days, and not having those made it difficult in this case.
Despite these complaints, I’ll still be making a lot out of The Meatless Meat Lover’s Cookbook. It’s hard to find delicious vegetarian recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients and are easy to make. I highly recommend this cookbook if you’re looking to lessen the amount of meat you eat, or if you’re just a fan of vegetarian cooking!