Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone seems to peek out on many a vegetarian, and non-vegetarian, cookbook shelf. It is probably so ubiquitous because it’s one of the best vegetarian cookbooks out there featuring great recipes that are not overly fussy and taste great. My edition is from 1997.
This is definitely a cookbook that you can curl up on the couch and be lost in it for hours. There are sections about knives, kitchen equipment, seasonings, wines, menu planning and cutting and illustrated chopping techniques.
I like that the information about purchasing and preparing the vegetables are not in the front section but rather in with the recipes that are divided by the ingredient. So, all the chard recipes are introduced with a page about types of chard, what to look for, how to store, how to use, etc. I like this because as I’m perusing what to cook with a particular ingredient, I can take a look at information about the ingredient without having to remember to flip to the front or back of the book.
There are three sections of color photo panels inserted into the book.
Although I’m a fan of photos, I’m ok with few in this cookbook because Deborah Madison is able to pack in more information and more recipes. Some pages have as many as four recipes or serving suggestions listed meaning no wasted space at all – you definitely get your money’s worth.
The descriptions included with the recipe are written as if Deborah is in the kitchen with you. She is also a fan of suggesting simple and alternative ways of preparing the recipes and adapting them to the ingredients you have on hand. That’s why I didn’t think twice when adjusting the Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil recipe to Pasta with Zucchini and Basil. I still had the spirit of her recipe but instead used a large pearl couscous. I also used a 2% milk rather than cream.
We have been fortunate to be the beneficiary of a friend’s zucchini bumper crop in her garden and this recipe honored the freshness of the ingredients. This dish was creamy and filling with the basil bringing a brightness to the dish.
Pasta with Zucchini and Basil (Originally: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil)
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
1 1/2 pounds small or medium zucchini
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil to taste
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup mixed freshly grated Parmesan and Romano
Handful basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk (Note: I used 2% milk.)
Start heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Warm the oil with the garlic in a wide skillet. Add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the squash is soft and browned in places, about 20 minutes.
Add the half-and-half and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring more frequently.
Meanwhile, add salt to the boil water and cook the pasta. Drain and toss it with the zucchini, cheeses, and basil. Taste for salt and season with pepper.