I start of my Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles Challenge swinging for the wall with The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook  by Diana Shaw. My edition is from 1997. This 612 page tome covers everything you need to know about vegetarian cooking but were afraid to ask. The subtitle says it all “Your Guide to the Best Goods on Earth: What to eat, where to get it, how to prepare it.” That pretty much covers it.
This cookbook focuses on creating a balanced and nourishing vegetarian diet, features menu plans as well as great advice. There are also guides to herbs, spices, rice, grains, soy, flours, kitchenware and more.
The presentation is a little ho-hum as its presented in one color – green. It does have some hand drawn illustrations to punctuate ingredients but none of the illustrations reflect finished products or cooking techniques.
But, who needs glossy pictures when the recipes are very in depth and also very easy to follow. (In fact, the author takes two pages on how to make the humble pancake, and she’s passionate about how to make it right.) Each recipe has a description or introduction and specifics on nutrition. You also see total time but also “time to prepare” and “total cooking time”. Which I find informative – am I going to spend five minutes in preparation and 18 hours cooking, or 18 hours preparation with 5 minutes of cooking? I also find the “do ahead” options and how to store the finish product hints helpful, too.
Finally, the index is presented both by recipe and ingredient which helps when you’re not quite sure what to make…but you know what you have.
This cookbook is chock full of hints, stories and suggestions. I probably need to curl up on the couch and read through it from cover to cover sometime. In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and present you with this recipe.
I was looking for a fast, easy and tasty option for a cookout I was having. Most importantly, it had to store overnight so I didn’t have to rush to prepare it. This pasta salad worked out really well and it made plenty to feed a crowd.
Chilled Pasta Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Chickpeas, Olives & Feta Cheese
from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook , Diane Shaw, 1997
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 minced fresh basil
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (Note: the cookbook goes into nice detail on how to peel and seed the tomato, I did not peel the tomatoes in this preparation, but I did seed them.)
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped oil-cured black Greek or nicoise-style olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons capers
6 cups cooked short pasta, such as penne rigate, farfalle, or radiator (Note: I used a rather cute mini farfalle pasta)
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and swish it through the oil until it starts to color, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard it. Add the basil and stir well to flavor the oil. Remove the skillet from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, feta cheese, and capers.
Add the pasta and the basil oil, and toss well. Chill for at least 3 hours. Toss again before serving.
Total time: About 3 hours, 30 minutes, including time to chill, but not including time to cook the chickpeas (Note: I used canned chickpeas which saved some time…)
Time to prepare: About 25 minutes
Cooking Time: Included in time to prepare
Do Ahead: You can make this up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate until ready to use
Refrigeration/Freezing: Refrigerate up to 2 days. Do not freeze.