Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book review: Fresh and Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Title: Fresh and Fast Vegetarian: Recipes that make a meal
Author: Marie Simmons
Genre: Cookbook
Subject: Vegetarian cooking
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: April 7, 2011
Length: 256 pages
I got this book: From the publisher for review through NetGalley

Marie Simmons shares more than 150 vegetarian recipes in this book and the majority is vegan or easily adjusted to vegan. It are recipes that are easy to make and most of them are made in 30 minutes or less. Some of the recipes are meals on their own and others can be combined. The book also provides a lot of variations and information.

Personal opinion:
This is a book with great potential. Next to the recipes there is a lot of additional information on how to prepare various veggies faster without sacrificing quality. But also on other ingredients like cheeses, nuts, herbs and seasoning. The book is divided into sections: Soups, Salads, Breads, Main Dishes, Vegetable Sides and Grains & Beans. Each chapter starts with some general tips to make tastier meals and how to treat your ingredients. I like this book because the recipes are really easy indeed and the book gives you loads of useful tips. However for a fair amount of dishes you do need lots of ingredients, which does exceed my budget. Luckily this isn't the case with all the recipes so I still had a good amount to choose from. A thing that was confusing to me were the measurements. Of course I am aware that the book uses American measurements but here I found some things I never heard of before, like ears and heads for example. This was a bit weird to me, but I am sure that this is probably my fault and that American readers won't have much problems with it. To me this book has interesting recipes and it isn't more of the same that I have seen in many vegetarian cookbooks. I would say that this is a good book to buy for people who just became vegetarian or vegan but also for people who have been for ages. Because it is easy to follow, yet original.

Of course I had to try at least one recipe before writing my review and I chose to make a Japanese eggplant stir-fry. I will share my adjusted recipe with you below.The reason why I had to make some adjustments was partly due to budget reasons and partly because I was too lazy to convert the measurements. I don't believe that it does matter too much in a stir-fry anyhow :)

Japanese Eggplant Stir-Fry (serves 4)
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 bell pepper (the recipe called for red, but I had an orange laying around)
- 2 spring onions
- 250gr mushrooms (the recipe uses shii take, substituted because of budget)
- 1 glove garlic
- some fresh ginger
- olive oil
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- sesame seeds

Cut all the veggies into small cubes. Put some oil in the pan and wait till it is hot. Then add the eggplant first. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for another 2. Then add bell pepper, garlic, spring onion and ginger. Stir-fry for another minute. Add the soy sauce and stir-fry for another minute. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sesame oil & sesame seeds. I served the veggies with soba noodles.

Purchase links: Amazon
Other reviews: Chinoiseries
If you have reviewed this book and want your link here, please leave a comment with the link, and I will add it :)

This post is part of weekend cooking and whip up something new! Go and see what others have been up to food wise :)


  1. Hmm, I love soba noodles and eggplant. Wonder why I haven't tried the above recipe yet :)

  2. Quite curious about it now! Love the duo-review!

  3. Good substitutions -- stir-fries are very forgiving. And I agree with Chinoiseries -- soba and eggplant do sound great together.

    I never thought about how unit measures would sound to someone not familiar with them: ear of corn, head of lettuce. I remember struggling with British terms for ingredients when I lived in the UK -- aubergine? Oh, they mean eggplant. LOL

    How fun that you reviewed together!

  4. I love this combination also. After reading both your reviews I definitely have to have a closer look at this book.

  5. I'm always in the market for new vegetarian cookbooks; the dish on the cover of this one looks delicious!
    I like the fact that the book contains a good number of vegan recipes; that's not always true with vegetarian books, that can sometimes be quite heavy on their use of dairy.

    Your eggplant dish turned out great!

  6. Looks delicious, love stir-fry for that reason, it's so adaptable! Thanks for the review of the cookbook, sounds like a great book to add to my collection!

  7. I love soba noodle...I love eggplant...and I love mushrooms. I even have some dried shitakes right here!

  8. We've been trying to prepare at least one vegetarian dinner per week. It sounds like this cookbook could be a great resource. The stir-fry looks delicious!

  9. That recipe went together so easily. You must have been eating within minutes.

  10. @ Heather: The cooking time for the recipe is 6 minutes. However, I am slow in the kitchen and I had to cut all the veggies which took me nearly 30 minutes XD But that is just me, I am sure that most people indeed would have this meal on the table in about 15 minutes in total :)

  11. Sounds like a delcious recipe that I'm bound to try! I think this might be a great cookbook for me to check out too... (like you hinted).

    BTW you can get dried shiitake mushrooms at the Asian store rrrreal cheap and you just have to soak them in hot water before using. The soaking luiquid can be used as well.

  12. Thank you, Gnoe, for the tip. I would love to have some mushrooms in store for recipes :)

  13. This looks so good. I love eggplant and am always looking for great recipes to try with it. Thanks for joining in on Whip Up Something New!

  14. I LOVE eggplant but haven't had much luck cooking with it. And hubby doesn't like it all that much (not really a veggie eater due to allergies). Think this might work with everything all cut up into small cubes though! And love stir-fry. Yum!

  15. Sounds like a great recipe. I also have a husband who doesn't like eggplant too much (although, as with many foods, it's more about the idea than the actual taste). It looks like a good vegetarian book.

    What I need in a cookbook are pictures. Are there pictures for (almost) all recipes?

  16. @Leeswammes: Yes there are pictures, but unlike most cookbooks I know, these aren't on the page of the actual recipe but on pages in between chapters.