Good Cookbooks: The New Vegetarian Epicure

Confirmed carnivores are often flummoxed to find out that one (or more) of their invited dinner party guests is a strict vegetarian. Though you can always go the route of serving them extra portions of the side dishes, that doesn't work so well when you're serving a big one-pot dinner, or when the sides are just rice and salad.

Enter The New Vegetarian Epicure, an updated edition of the 70's classic cookbook The Vegetarian Epicure. A bible to vegetarians, The New Vegetarian Epicure is also a godsend to dinner-party planners of all types, for the simple reason that its 325 well-tested recipes are organized into seasonal menus for both formal and casual affairs.

Finally, meat-eaters can understand what makes a truly satisfying vegetarian main dish. The relatively simple dinners, (several of them are only appetizer, main dish, and dessert,) can be easily supplemented with a meat dish. But truthfully that's not necessary. For example, her spring menus include

A Mexican Dinner
Fresh Corn Tamales with queso fresco and salsa
Black Bean Chili
Mango Sorbet

For a party, she suggests adding guacamole and chips to start, or a ceviche for those who eat fish. While you could add a baked chipotle chicken casserole, you wouldn't need it for this meal to satisfy most meat eaters, don't you think?

For those looking for something a little fancier, try the

Gala Dinner for Late Spring

Garlic Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Fresh Cheese with Basil Pesto
Cold Plum Soup
Salad of Peppery Greens with Baked Goat Cheese and Olives
Roulade of Fresh Morels
Pink Grapefruit Sorbet
Cornmeal Griddlecakes with Sweet Chipotle Sauce, Nopalitos, Creme fraiche and Pine Nuts
White Peach Mousse in Chocolate Collars with Raspberry Coulis and Fresh Berries

Even if you don't cook from her recipes, just reading the book will inspire you to think about the progression of foods in a dinner party. Her simpler dinners will encourage beginning cooks, daunted by the multipage layouts in most food magazines. And the world influences and healthy approach will inspire more seasoned cooks.

The New Vegetarian Epicure is available at many bookstores and at Amazon.com

Related: Best Vintage Vegetarian Cookbooks

Image: Amazon.com