The New Vegetarian makes its big entrance!

The New Vegetarian makes its big entrance!

The New Vegetarian is finally out! After the long process of writing, testing, editing, and then just anxiously waiting, my book is finally getting shipped from Amazon and making it onto bookshelves. Whew!

The latest part of the process is, of course, doing interviews and teaching about the book. Just like when my first book came out, I am finding that I learn from the questions and the perspective that others bring to the book. It’s really great fun.

So, when asked, what IS new in the New Vegetarian, I had to think. Firstly, the title originally came to be because it is a series that Chronicle Books (my wonderful publisher) has done for some time. The New This, the New That. When it was suggested, I took it to heart. I’ve been doing the Veg thing for many years, and I thought, yes, let’s really make it new.

The book speaks to a new wave of vegetarian, something different from the sincere-but-clunky way we were doing it 20 years ago. Something more sophisticated, and definitely more global. When Americans go out to eat, they say, hmm, do I want Italian, Chinese, or French? And depending where they live, it might even be, are we up for Ligurian, Szechuan, or Provencal, because travel and immigration have made us much more educated about the foods of the world. Vegetarians have always embraced the foods of other cultures, especially when we could mine them for meatless dishes that were already all worked out and loaded with flavor. So, I filled the book with the kind of exciting, international fare that both foodies and healthy eaters would find appealing.

Another thing that is new in the veg world is the interest of omnivores in eating meatless. The bad economy has suddenly spawned an interest in saving money, and skipping meat is one way to cut back. The environmental crisis is motivating people to look at the carbon footprint of their food choices, and the veg way is a great way to cut the tonnage of carbon that you bestow upon the world. Add the health benefits of skipping all that sat fat and you have committed meat lovers making the effort to eat the meatless meal now and then.

Veg food is just another choice, a healthy alternative. It’s mainstream. I think that’s GREAT. I’d love to be a part of bridging the divisions between the “diet-style camps.” In my professional life, I cross between the high end gourmet world and the crunchy-granola world, and the two are getting more blended all the time. There is no reason that we can’t all enjoy great food. If my recipes can bring everybody together at the table, and delight the omnivores and vegetarians, alike, then I am thrilled. I know they can, because I have been doing it for years.

So, come on in and try the New Veg way, everybody is welcome.

Here is a recipe from the book for you to try. It’s hard to pick, so I went with something seasonal, with my favorite kind of winter squash. It’s a crowd-pleaser, with luscious cheese, crunchy nuts and flaky pastry.

Braised Garlic-Squash Tart with Aged Gouda

(with permission from Chronicle Books, from The New Vegetarian)

The lusty flavors of braised squash, aged gouda and toasted hazelnuts make this tart irresistible. Kabocha is sometimes called Japanese Pumpkin, and is a dark orange, low moisture squash that holds up well for this, but Red Kuri or Hubbard squash would do just as well.

Serves 6

1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 stick butter, chilled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice water, approximately
1 1/2 pounds kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
2 medium shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces aged gouda, shredded
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins rubbed off, coarsely chopped

1. Make tart shell: In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Using the coarse holes of a grater, shred cold butter into the flour and toss with your fingers to coat. Cut until mixture is full of coarse lumps. Quickly stir in ice water just until it sticks together and form into a ball. Chill for 1 hour. Roll out and fit into a 12 inch tart pan.
2. Preheat oven to 400. Prick shell all over and bake for 10 minutes, until edges are browned, cool on rack. While baking, sauté squash in olive oil over medium high heat, stirring. After 5 minutes, add garlic and stir. Add wine and cover for 5 minutes, checking at the end to see if pan is dry. When squash is tender when pierced with a paring knife, uncover and cook until liquids are evaporated. Take off heat and cool squash.
3. To assemble, Sprinkle some cheese in the shell, top with squash, cheese and nuts. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden on top.