If the adjective “vegetarian” immediately calls to mind side dishes and incomplete meals, this lively cookbook aims to convince readers otherwise.
Volger (Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, 2010) dutifully covers all the vegetarian basics. In seven chapters, the author details the finer points of pantry staples like grains and beans; outlines several hearty meals comprised of soups and salads; and tackles meat-free noodle and curry dishes, among many others. Volger does not rely on meat substitutes such as seitan or tempeh, and only occasionally make use of tofu. Vegetables may be the stars, but, unfortunately for vegan readers, the author makes liberal use of dairy. The author’s recipes are simple, and he mainly avoids exotic, hard-to-find ingredients. Most dishes can be completed quickly by the amateur chef, with a few standouts that require more in-depth preparation. His foundational recipes leave readers much room for substitution and improvisation, depending on what’s seasonable or available in their panty. Volger clearly enjoys cooking and is eager to inspire others, but this causes the author some minor trouble. He dedicates much space in a lengthy introductory chapter with non-essential and rather obvious information. That space should have been used for the paltry and unimaginative dessert section, which features a mere five recipes compared to the author’s lengthy discourse on pizza and the 11 recipes that accompany it.
The pros far outweigh the cons, but a more apt title would have been Vegetarianism for Beginners.