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Flexitarian Table - cookbook report

The local librarian was kind enough to set this book aside for me. She knows of my slight obsession with testing out cookbooks. She thought I would like this one because of the pretty pictures.

From the beginning, I was completely and utterly entranced with this cookbook. As soon asI flipped it open, I wanted to buy a copy. This rarely happens to me. Other than the (ridiculous) title of the book (which opens itself up to endless mocking), the book is appealling, both for the use of local veggies and for the flexible nature of the recipes themselves. The sub-title is "inspired flexible meals for vegetarians, meat lovers and everyone in between). The premise is that you can please many members of your family without having to make a separate meal for each one. The "base" recipe (rice or other grains) and the sauces are similar, it's just the protein that changes (either meat, fish, tofu or seitan).

The book is organized like Suzanne Goins, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. It's organized by season and then by menus. Each menu consists of 2-4 items. The recipes are significantly less labor intensive and at the beginning of each menu, it gives the cook a plan to help organize the cooking. This is a clever idea that more cookbook authors should pick up on.

So far, I have made two partial menus and have been quite pleased with the results. This could be my new favorite cookbook. Part of this could be that I used recipes showcasing the native corn and tomatoes that are in season, but the other seasons' menus look just as appetizing. Posts to follow.

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  1. Grilled Shrimp in Harissa/Fresh Corn Polenta with Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes (pg. 111, menu 3)

    This recipe was fabulous. Admittedly, I chose the recipe because of the polenta with cherry tomatoes. For the veggie eater, the author suggests topping the polenta with fried eggs as the protein. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to check out the harissa shrimp and I did not regret my choice.

    Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical with the shrimp. The recipe states that the shrimp only had to be marinated in the harissa (combo of cumin, fennel, caraway, cayenne, salt, olice oil and lemon juice) for *15* minutes. But, I followed the recipe and 15 minutes were more then enough. I grilled the shrimp but this could also be broiled. The spicy, savory harissa completely penetrated the shrimp and our mouths exploded with flavors.

    And, to complement the spicy shrimp, there was the sweetness of the polenta and the sauteed tomatoes. The polenta was very easy. Mix the corn grits and corn kernals in a small pot with water, butter and salt. Simmer and stir for about 5 minutes. Add a bit of scallion greens to the polenta and transfer to an oven to keep it warm.

    Meanwhile, saute the tomatoes with scallions with scallion whites, garlic and red pepper flakes until the tomatoes release their juices. Stir in a mixture of herbs (I used basil, tarragon and thyme) and add salt and pepper.

    A quick easy meal that showcases the best of summer produce.

    2 Replies
    1. re: beetlebug

      I made this this weekend and it was a huge hit. We also have made a frittata from the spring section and it was wonderful. This is my new favorite cookbook right now! I'm enjoying your reviews of the recipes I haven't tried (and the ones I have!)!

      1. re: beetlebug

        Did the grilled harissa shrimp/polenta/tomatoes and grilled zucchini tonight. Actually I was using up stuff from the freezer, so I used frozen sweet white corn in the polenta instead of fresh. The only other difference is I didn't make the mint oil for the zucchini. I grilled the shrimp and zucchini on my Griddler... the zucchini picked up the flavorings from the harissa, so was flavorful enough. Loved loved loved these recipes! (almost as much as the tofu...). He has the most interesting combinations of flavors. They really work.

      2. Farro with Corn, Red Beans and Bacon/Soy Sauce and Scallops/Avocado (pg. 139, menu 7)

        Note: the "/" is to show the meat v. non-meat aspect of the recipe. I chose the scallops although the soy avocado also sounded tasty.

        I also took the author's suggestion to substitute pearl barley for the farro.

        Another winner and a quick summer supper. I simmered the barley ahead of time. Saute the corn kernals, canned red beans and scallions until the veggies soften. Add the cooked barley and dill.

        Bacon - cut and saute the bacon pieces, reserving the fat to saute the scallops. Add the bacon to the greens and plate the scallops.

        If you were going to go the veggie way, instead of bacon, add soy sauce to the grains. Slice avocados tossed with lime juice to the grains.

        The dill really shines in this dish without overpowering it. The same with the bacon. It was enough for a hint of flavor but it wasn't bacony. The author also has a recipe for gazpacho with feta cheese to accompany it. I didn't have time to make the soup. Instead, I served this with a tomato gratin and it worked well. All in all, a lovely dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: beetlebug

          I made this again, but this time, going the vegetarian way with the soy sauce and avocados. This was just as delicious and satisfying. I served this with a corn soup and a salad.

        2. I really like this book. So far I've made Chopped Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette, Zucchini/Rice Soup with Basil and Parmesan, and Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine, and Butter Sauce. All were excellent, especially the tofu.

          3 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            I've had my eye on the tofu recipe but I think the first time out, I will be using the striped bass (it's in season now in NE). Glad to hear that it's delicious. Next time I get zucchini in the CSA box, I'll be making that soup.

            1. re: pikawicca

              Wow, that soup and tofu sound amazing. Putting in my amazon order TODAY.

              1. re: pikawicca

                I got the book late last week and made the zucchini/rice soup on Tuesday. I think mine needed a bit more salt (and I'm not a person who normally finds that to be true), but that probably had something to do with using water instead of stock or broth. The house smelled amazing when it was cooking, and with more salt added, we enjoyed it. I think the tofu with lemon, soy, wine and butter will be next, but I haven't had a chance to go through the whole book yet (I have a 16 month old).

              2. I've been seriously considering this book, but have only seen it online - never had a chance to actually look at the recipes. I don't eat any pork, and very little red meat, so this book would make a lot of sense for me. I just had no idea whether or not it was actually any good. You've cast the deciding vote - I'm buying it. Thanks for the report.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LulusMom

                  It's interesting. The meat tends to be more seafood, lamb or chicken. There are a couple of beef and duck recipes thrown in for good measure. I think the author and his family must really enjoy and/or have access to flavorful lamb and chicken because there is at least one lamb or chicken recipe in each season.

                2. Thanks for the review beetlebug. I have a couple of other Berley books that I really enjoy. I haven't purchased this one yet but was wondering if it would be a good rec for friends who want to cut back on their number of meals with meat.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: debbiel

                    I think it would be an excellent choice as a gift - esp since your friends are cutting back on meat. The recipes are versatile and has a variety of meat (including seafood) and no meat choices. Also, I don't know what kind of meat your friends are giving up, but there are a number of chicken recipes that also look tasty.

                  2. Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine, and Butter Sauce
                    Striped Bass with Lemon White Wine and Butter Sauce
                    Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Corn and Tomatoes

                    (pg. 126, Summer Menu 5)

                    Originally, I was only going to make the fish dish to go with the quinoa. But, between pikawicca's recommendation below and my love of tofu, I had a hard time deciding. So, I decided to make both. Afterall, leftovers are a good thing. I also thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the flavors and textures of the meat v. non meat items in this menu. The tofu was the clear winner in flavor.

                    Both the tofu and fish dish had similar preps. The tofu is sliced and laid flat in an oven proof skillet. The fish also is placed single layered in a separate skillet. Both proteins had pats of butter, lemon juice, white wine and shallots. The tofu also had additional soy sauce and ginger scattered over it. Both skillets are brought to boil on the stove and then placed in an oven for 10 minutes. Afterwards, both sauces are thickened.

                    The fish was delicious. Afterall, it's a white fish with butter, shallots and wine. By itself, I would have loved this dish. But, it paled to the tofu. The tofu was infused with the soy ginger flavor - enough umami to awaken the taste buds. And, it (and the fish) paired beautifully with the quinoa salad.

                    Quinoa Salad - again, fairly easy to put together. Cook the quinoa and add cherry tomatoes (I used de-seeded tomatoes and a couple of grape tomatoes), blanched green beans, blanched corn kernals, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, parsley and chives. This was an incredibly fresh tasting salad. I'm not usually a quinoa flavor, it's a bit too nutty and crunchy for me. But, all the flavors of summer were in a bowl and the quinoa complemented it well.

                    21 Replies
                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Hey beetlebug,

                      Thanks so much for the the reviews of this cookbook! I just bought it this week and am hoping to start cooking with it this weekend. You definitely have me feeling inspired and I love hearing that the tofu was the star of the meal!

                      1. re: beetlebug

                        Beetlebug, I have a quick question if you happen to be lurking today. I'm planning to make the tofu for dinner, but noticed that when he says to take the fish out of the oven and thicken the sauce, he specifically says to take the fish out; he doesn't say the same with the tofu, but I assume he wants us to do so ... but I'm fairly new to tofu and just slightly concerned that maybe he didn't make it specific because in fact we're supposed to thicken the sauce with the tofu in the pan. Which way did you do it? Anyone? And thanks!

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Both times I made it, I kept the tofu in the skillet as I was thickening the sauce. This way the sauce continued to infuse the tofu.

                          Also, the first time I made it, I didn't have any honey and I didn't notice a difference in taste when I added honey the second time around. But, that could be because I added a LOT of ginger and shallots the second time around (cut up too much).

                          I adore this tofu preparation. I'll probably make it again this week with the quinoa salad.


                          1. re: beetlebug

                            Thank you so so much. As I said, I'm fairly new to using tofu, so your input really helps a lot! I'm very excited about trying this recipe. My husband isn't a big tofu fan, so I planned this meal for a night when he's home late, but once he heard what is in it he said "can you hold a plate of that for me?"

                            Thanks again for your help.

                        2. re: beetlebug

                          Made the tofu last night. WOW. Really amazingly good, and so easy. I was having to deal with my 16 month alone, so I just served it with plain rice and some roasted veg. Lots and lots of great flavor, even my tofu-phobe husband was impressed. The only slightly off thought - why bother with the thyme? But basically a great dish that is easy, and will become a regular.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            So glad you liked it. It's funny that you mention about the thyme. So far, I've tried it with thyme, rosemary and tarragon and each time, I've never really noticed the flavor. I wonder if there is some sort of subtle infusion that I am missing.

                            The sauce must have gone great with the white rice.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              The sauce was just amazing over the rice. I think next time I may just skip the thyme. The little bit that I noticed it, it just seemed slightly discordant (spelling?), but as you say, it isn't strong enough that you notice it much. And you were absolutely right about leaving the tofu in. I think it definitely helped it soak up the flavors in those last couple of minutes.

                              Have you tried anything new recently that you suggest I *must* make? I'm so glad you started this post because it is what got me to order a book I'd been on a fence about.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                I haven't tried anything new. Everything I've made from this book is on this thread. But, before the summer ends, you must make the corn polenta with cherry tomato sauce coupled with the harissa shrimp. It's quick and easy, esp if you don't toast and grind the spices (I do but I have more time on my hands than you do). I also have fresh frozen corn in the freezer so it makes the prep even faster.

                                Another hint for this, when the shrimp are marinating (15 minutes), that's when you start the prep for the tomatoes first (wash tomatoes, herbs, etc.). Right before the shrimp go on the grill (or in the oven), start sauteeing the tomatoes and then start the polenta. This way, the polenta doesn't have to be kept warm in the oven. Everything has such a quick cooking time but doesn't need a lot of watching over the stove.

                                I also love the corn, green bean and quinoa salad. It looks more labor intensive than it really is. The thing that takes the longest is taking the damn ends off the beans. Other than that, it's a fast recipe. I often make too much of this and end up eating the leftovers as a snack throughout the week. A half portion is more than enough for 3-4 servings. As other hands can attest, I eat a LOT and I'm always satisfied with this dish.

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  I had my eye on the harissa shrimp (I'm on a serious moroccan binge lately). That will definitely be one I'll try soon. Thanks for the hint, and the tips.

                          2. re: beetlebug

                            I've been lurking on this thread and actually purchased this book and Modern Vegetarian Kitchen because of your rave reviews. Now that I've gone through both books, I figured it was time to get cooking!

                            I made the tofu and quinoa salad last night. Definitely easy, and super yummy. So much so that I told my husband that if I could eat like this every day I wouldn't miss meat at all.

                            Thinking of doing this menu again - this time with the fish - for friends... one of whom isn't a "fish" person. It would definitely work.

                            1. re: mimilulu

                              The tofu is killer. I plan to make it again next week. Let us know how the fish turns out for you.

                              1. re: mimilulu

                                I love the tofu and quinoa dish. I think I've made it almost every week since discovering this book. So quick, easy and flavorful. I'll be interested in hearing you and your guests' impressions on the fish v. tofu. As I stated above, the fish was good but the tofu rocked. Haven't made the fish since.

                              2. re: beetlebug

                                Since the thyme doesn't seem to make an impact in the recipe, it seems an apt year-round dish. And it sounds absolutely fantastic! Would you mind a quick paraphrase, beetlebug? I'm mostly wondering about the liquid-to-tofu ratio, oven temperature, and how the sauce is thickened.

                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                  Sure, and thanks to you, I flipped to the index and saw a lot more tofu recipes that I can try this winter.

                                  1 lb firm tofu, sliced into 6 1/2 inch thick slabs
                                  1/4 cup dry white wine
                                  2 T soy sauce
                                  2 T lemon juice
                                  2 t honey (although I've forgotten to add this and it's been fine)
                                  3 T unsalted butter, cubed (I cube into 12 pieces)
                                  2 T finely diced shallots (I use more)
                                  1 slice fresh ginger about 1/2 thick - peeled and finely chopped (I use more)
                                  1/2 t kosher salt
                                  pinch of red pepper flakes
                                  3-4 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary (not sure if this adds anything but I usually have some on hand)

                                  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and have the oven rack on the upper third of the oven.

                                  In a small/medium skillet where the tofu will be able to lay in a single layer, mix the wine, soy sauce, lemon juice and honey. Stir it up. Place the tofu in the skillet and then flip them (this way both sides are juiced (alternatively,lay the tofu in a single layer in an ovenproof skillet, mix the ingredients in a bowl and then pour over the tofu).

                                  Scatter the butter, shallots and ginger over the tofu, season with salt and red pepper flakes and place herbs on top.

                                  Bring to boil over high heat and then bake for 10 minutes. After baking, place the pan over high heat again to bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce (about 3-5 minutes). Discard the herbs and serve.

                                  The sauce tastes great with rice. Enjoy.

                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                    Ooh, thanks - now I can't wait to try this.

                                  2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    I haven't bothered using the thyme since the first time I made this, and haven't noticed any difference at all.

                                  3. re: beetlebug

                                    I have had this book since Christmas but not made anything out of it (as I commented in the pre-voting thread, nothing had yet inspired me from it). Given comments here decided to dig it out. I made the tofu with lemon-butter-soy last night and paired it with an altered version of the quinoa salad (given the time of year, skipped the corn and substituted asparagus for the green beams).

                                    The tofu was really good-- even my daughter who professes to "hate tofu" ate her piece without comment or complaint (a big deal). My husband and I really liked it a lot. The salad was good, but IMO nothing too special, though I like his technique of cooling the blanched vegetables on a kitchen towel instead of in cold water.

                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      I think that tofu recipe could convert even the most adament tofu-hater. I usually serve it with rice and some roasted vegetables.

                                    2. re: beetlebug

                                      Tonight I tried the Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine, and Butter Sauce and Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Corn and Tomatoes.

                                      What can I say. Should something that tastes this good be allowed to be this easy and healthy? Amazing! I bought this book a couple of months ago and have been feeling guilty that I haven't been cooking from it. Now I feel bad that I've lost out on two months I could have been cooking this dish! Ha! This one dish has completely justified the price of the book in my mind.

                                      Me being me, I made a couple of substitutions.

                                      Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine, and Butter Sauce: for this, instead of dry white wine, I used my Shioxing Wine (leftover from my Dunlop cooking) and instead of butter, 4 tsp of Canola oil. Really fantastic and, shockingly, craveworthy.

                                      I didn't have as much luck with the quinoa, mostly because I thought I had tomatoes at home. I did, but they were older than I thought and I had to throw them out. I was thinking I'd find a can of chopped tomatoes in my pantry, but to no avail. Since I thought tomato was an essential element in this dish, I added a half cup of salsa, which introduced some flavors that probably didn't belong. Obviously, I need to try this again with tomatoes, but, even so, it was still pretty good!

                                      I'm posting a photo of the tofu and quinoa salad (sorry my presentation isn't better--I suppose I should try to work on that.) The little ramekins surrounding the plate are filled with Strawberry Pots de Creme from the April COTM Hopkinson's "Roast Chicken and Other Stories". I'll post about that in the April COTM Dessert thread tomorrow. (Still waiting the obligatory 6 hours for my "Pots" to chill.)

                                      I can't wait to cook from this book again. I just have to decide which recipe to try next!


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Yay! That recipe truly is killer. I'm glad to hear that even with the changes it was so good. FWIW I normally serve it with rice and roasted vegetables. Makes dinner especially easy, and healthy too.

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Everyone has made the tofu sound so good that I'm linking the recipe for future reference. I'm going to make it this weekend I think.


                                          Edited: Just noticed Beetlebug already posted this above. Soooo, any chance on getting the quinoa recipe too?

                                      2. Gazpacho with Crumbled Feta Cheese (Summer menu 7, pg. 138)

                                        Wow, this was tasty. Slight change from traditional gazpachos with the optional addition of the feta cheese. But the brininess of the cheese truly brought out the taste of my homegrown tomatoes.

                                        Fairly classic preparation:

                                        Blend tomatoes, juice and olive oil. Add finely chopped cucumber, red onion, mixed herbs (I used basil, cilantro and chives), jalapeno, garlic and a yellow pepper (I used corn kernels instead). In addition, add ground cumin and balsamic vinegar.

                                        Stir it up, chill and eat.

                                        1. Pan Seared Lamb Steak with Thyme, Lemon and Mustard
                                          Carrots with Black Olives and Mint
                                          Spicy Lentils with Pumpkin and Greens over Couscous

                                          (Fall menu 9, pgs. 238 - 241)

                                          This was an excellent dinner for a cooler summer evening. I chose this menu because I had virutally all the veggies needed and I had to use them. In one fell swoop, I used up a bunch of carrots and 2 bunches of mustard greens. I didn't use the pumpkin for the couscous but did not feel that my version lacked anything. There were a lot of flavors going on in all the dishes.

                                          Carrot Dish - this was a simple dish with a subtle flavor. On it's own, it would have been extremely tasty. But, the lamb and couscous dish overwhelmed it. I would make this again, but would probably only serve it with the lamb dish or as a separate side. What's nice about this dish is that it can be prepared ahead of time since it can be eaten hot or cold.

                                          Lamb Steaks - This was excellent. My lamb steaks marinated for about 4 hours. I shorted the marinade a bit but it was still fine. The marinade was mustard, thyme, lemon zest, garlic and salt. When you're ready to cook, just pan fry them.

                                          Spicy lentils with greens over couscous - there were a lot of flavors going on here and it really complemented the lamb. Again, fairly straightforward but just tastes more complicated. Saute onions, paprika, cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes. Add the lentils and simmer until the lentils are done. (If you were using the pumpkin, you would simmer the lentils for 20 minutes, add the pumpkin and then simmer some more). Boil the greens in a separate pot for a couple of minutes. Toss all of the above with the cooked couscous.

                                          1. Pan Seared Baby Lamb Chops with Lemon and Green Olives (Spring menu 6, pg. 62)

                                            Yum, yum, yum. I used regular lamb chops instead of baby ones. But, the lamb mixed with the green olives was absolutely scrumptious. The slight brininess of the green olives really accented and complemented the lamb itself. Both C and I were trying to make sure that each bite had both flavors.

                                            Green olive mixture - saute onions, celery and salt until softened. Stir in white wine, chopped green olives, garlic, thyme and rosemary.

                                            Lamb - Season the lamb with salt and pepper and brown the lamb chops. Pour out the fat and add the green olive mixture to the lamb. Bring this to a boil and roast for about 4 minutes (for medium rare).

                                            1. Butter Braised Radishes with their Greens (Spring menu 6, pg. 64)

                                              I didn't love this recipe. I liked it, but it's on the bottom of the list so far. I think it's because I love raw radishes but decided to try cooking with them instead.

                                              I also served this with the lamb chops with green olive mixture. That was so great that it was hard to focus on the radishes themselves.

                                              Another easy recipe - simmer the radishes with butter, brown sugar, salt and water. Add the greens on top and simmer some more. Remove the greens and squeeze the water into the pot. Remove the radishes and place on top of the greens.

                                              As I am reporting on this dish, I realized I skipped a step. Probably a huge reason why I just thought the recipe was ok. I did everything as above.

                                              I was then supposed to add white wine vinegar, pepper and nutmeg to the liquid in the pot and then boil until the liquid turned syrupy. This syrup was supposed to go over the radishes. Instead, I added the condiments directly to the radishes and their greens without the boiled until syrupy part. Oh well, live and learn.

                                              Still, a very pretty dish.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                I made this dish the other night exactly as written -- with the syrup -- and it was the surprise hit of the dinner party. Absolutely fabulous, but it does need the syrup.

                                                1. re: amymon

                                                  I loved those radishes - they really area a surprise. Now that it is spring I should look for some radishes at the farmers market so I can make this again.

                                              2. Oh! It's Peter Berley! I have Modern Vegetarian Kitchen and Fresh Food Fast and am a fan of his. I'll have to check this out of the library!
                                                thanks for the tip.

                                                1. Baked Baby Eggplants Stuffed with Rice, Feta and Rosemary (pg. 148)

                                                  Another winner from this book. A lot of this can be prepped ahead of time and the most difficult thing was to scoop the flesh out of the raw eggplant. The stuffing consisted of eggplant, onion, yellow pepper, jalapenos, rosemary, basil, parsley, basmati rice and feta cheese. There is a simple tomato sauce that went on top of the stuffed eggplant. The beauty of the recipe is that I either grew or received from my CSA, all the veggie/herb ingredients.

                                                  All the flavors came together beautifully and like all the other recipes, tasted of essence of summer. The way he combines the veggies and starches just complement each other.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                    OK - I give! I am getting the book. Now. Thanks, beetlebug.

                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                      How powerful is the jalepeno, and could it be omitted?

                                                      1. re: enbell

                                                        The jalapeno is tangential. You could easily leave it out.

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          Well, I did it last night for dinner. I left out the jalepenos and feta. I added fresh moz right at the end on top of those tasty little suckers. I thought I'd heed your advice about scraping out the cold eggplant meat. My solution soak them in warm water for about 30 min before starting. I don' really think this helped though! Oh well, it was definitely worth it, and I feel confident enough about this dish that I will surely add it to my entertaining rotation. Thank you so much for this thread!

                                                    2. Barley Mushroom Soup and Gratin of Winter Vegetables (winter menu 2, pg. 261)

                                                      The gratin was delicious but I've made better barley mushroom soups. The mushroom soup is doesn't use stock as the base, which to me, isn't as flavorful as using chicken or beef stock.

                                                      The gratin is a winner and perfect for a cold day. Be warned, there are a lot of bowls involved. In a skillet, saute onions with garlic, caraway seeds, pepper flakes and salt. Put the mixture into a bowl. (Bowl 1)

                                                      Bowl 2 - toss rutabagas and potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.

                                                      Bowl 3 - Sliced cabbage is tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

                                                      Bowl 4 - breadcrumbs mixed parmesan and gruyere cheeses with olive oil.

                                                      In the original skillet, layer half the potatoes and rutabagas. Then layer with half the cabbage and half the onions. Repeat the layers. Spread the breadcrumbs on top and bring the skillet to a boil. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

                                                      The flavors all worked and it was sheer comfort food. I really liked the caraway seed flavor with all the veggies. It's a lot of bowls but the whole thing is pretty easy to put together.

                                                      1. Shrimp with Brown Butter and tons of herbs/Soft Polenta/Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan (Fall menu 6, pg. 212).

                                                        This was great even with my end of fall shortage of herbs. The chopped herbs were parsley, tarragon and thyme. But I also used oregano since my thyme was very sad looking. Browned butter is poured on the herbs as the sauce. The shrimp is a simple saute with brown butter and lemon juice.

                                                        The roasted broccoli was ok. Generally, when I roast broccoli, I cut everything up with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and toss the whole thing into the oven. Plain and simple. This recipe was slightly different with chopped broc, olive oil, red pepper flakes and s/p. The pan is preheated and the broccoli added with cheese. After roasting, remove the broc from the pan, add white wine vinegar to deglaze and pour over the broc. I think I just like plain broccoli with all the accoutrements.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          Amazing ... just this week I was struggling over whether it was time to try the white bean variation on this (it lost out - just barely - to the tofu yet again). I think it sounds like perfect winter comfort food. I'd probably skip the broccoli and do some other roast veg instead - maybe butternut squash (it would be nice soaking up some of that brown butter too, I imagine).

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            Thanks for the reminder. That tofu will go on this week's dinner menu.

                                                          2. re: beetlebug

                                                            Finally got around to making the Beans with Brown Butter and tons of herbs over polenta. This dish blew me away, and even more amazingly did the same to my husband, not a huge fan of vegetarian mains. I started the beans on Sunday, they got a nice long soak and then simmered away on the stove for a long time. Delicious. But the butter is what makes this dish. Husband actually said "you should put this in heavy rotation." I didn't follow the polenta instructions, just did my usual polenta thing.

                                                            Given Beetlebug's so-so review of the broccoli, I went with another side from the book - fennel with lemon and fennel salt (winter recipe 7). I think I would have liked this better if I'd sliced the fennel much thinner than he recommends doing. Still and all, the salt is lovely, and I'm glad I have some left for fish and roasted veg.

                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              Thanks for the report. I'm trying to like beans and this may be another way to try them. Of course, it's going to taste good, smothered in all that butter. Hopefully, I'll try this next week. I actually have thyme and parsley.

                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                a shoe would taste good with that butter sauce (which is exactly how I feel about the sauce on that tofu dish). I'm a huge bean fan, but I realize that isn't how everyone feels. Do rinse the beans as he suggests - it truly did make them less ... um, combustible.

                                                                Given that I have the thyme and (more of a rarity) tarragon on hand, I'm thinking I may try chopping and freezing them so that making this again will be somewhat less expensive (unfortunately I can't seem to grow my own herbs). Do you have any feelings about how well/badly that would work?

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  I've never had success with freezing fresh herbs. I vaguely remember threads on HC or General about freezing/preserving fresh herbs.

                                                                  But, I wonder if it would work if you were to make a butter herb compound rolly thing (I'm sure there's an official name, but I'm blanking). Meaning, take the needed amount of butter, softened, then work the herbs into the butter. Roll, wrap and freeze. Then, for the dish, just brown.

                                                                  The downside is that the herbs will cook with the butter v. being poured on. But, it won't be cooked for a long time since browned butter cooks fairly quickly.

                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                    Yeah, I make those rolly things all the time (compound butter?) and freeze them, but as you say, I was a little worried that the herbs cooking with it would take away some of their pizzaz (sp?), but as you say, so will freezing them. Maybe this is the way to go though.

                                                          3. I wish i liked this book as much as you did, but i guess i'm really funny about layouts. I really dont like that its laid out by season...i just dont always cook that way...it throws off my whole motivation having to bounce around all over the book to look at all the appetizers, or what not.

                                                            it sucks because i was verymuch looking forward to this book and its omnivorousness...

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: TSQ75

                                                              Funny. Goins, Sunday Suppers is laid out the same way and I had the same feeling as you. What slightly irked me was the seasonal vegetables in LA is significantly different than seasonal vegetables in New England. In this book, however, the seasonal aspect really worked for me. In the summer recipes, I was able to use most of my CSA share in a couple recipes. The summer quinoa recipe had green beans, tomatoes (own garden) and corn. Same with fall and winter. It's probably why I haven't tried many of the spring recipes yet. I bought the book during the summer months.

                                                              1. re: TSQ75

                                                                I thought the idea of the layout was going to be a problem for me, but then my usual OCD stuff took care of it. Whenever I get a new cookbook, I sit with it and takes notes/make a list of what sounds best. Then later I go through the list every once in a while to see if there is something new that strikes me at that time. It was in looking up the tofu recipe that I noticed the bean and polenta thing on my list and got intrigued.

                                                              2. Pan Seared Rosemary Tofu and Soba with Garlicky Spinach and Sesame Oil (Winter menu 1, pg. 254)

                                                                Tofu - I really liked this. Not as much as the other tofu prep in this book but this will go into the rotation. It does take a little planning but it's easily doable for a weeknight dinner. The meat variation is with a duck breast which I will try soon.

                                                                The extra firm tofu has to first be pressed to get all the liquid out. Then, it's marinated with salt, rosemary, garlic, pepper and cayenne pepper. This can easily be done the night before. The actual cooking is a snap - hit oil, add tofu and let it fry for 4 minutes. Just like with meat, when it browns, it will release. Flip, repeat and remove. Add lemon juice to scrape up the bits and pour over the tofu.

                                                                Soba - I love noodle soup and this worked out well. So easy for a weeknight dinner. Cook the noodles, reserve two cups of water and drain. Meanwhile, saute the garlic in oil and add the spinach and saute until wilted. Add the noodles and broth. Divide and serve. Before I poured the noodles into the bowls, I added soy sauce and sesame oil to the bottom of the bowls so that it would infuse the broth and noodles. The recipe says it serves 4, but I think we were piggy and finished it between the two of us.

                                                                I served this as a bowl of noodle soup and I placed the tofu on top. The tofu tasted really meaty and it was satisfying. Much meatier than the other tofu below. The rosemary and pepper flavors worked really well with the soup flavors.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                  I have this one on my "to try" list - thanks for the push (that said, I also love duck breasts). I am so thrilled with this book. I'm on a crusade to get us eating less meat and these recipes are convincing my husband that it isn't so painful. And he LOVES noodle soups. I also still haven't tried that shrimp w/ harissa - that is very high on my try list.

                                                                2. I tried another dish tonight - Couscous (originally Bulgur) with Roasted Chickpeas, Red Onion, and Lemon from Spring Menu 2. Served this as a side with a fish main. Yet another winner. He says himself in the headnote that it is ok to sub couscous, and we're big couscous fans. Basically you roast the canned chickpeas with thinly sliced red onions and some spices and lemon juice for 20 minutes, then mix it with either couscous or bulgur. I didn't really feel like the beans got all that much flavor from the roasting but still and all this is a really nice side, and easy. Especially nice - you can serve it at room temp or warm without taking away from the flavor, which is always nice when you've got other last minute attention heavy stuff (like pan-fried fish) going on.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                    I just got this book from Amazon and already like it a lot. Last night I made chicken cutlets and used Flex for side dish recipes. I made the red onion marmalade to go with the chicken cutlets and it's terrific. I had no red onions and I had no red wine, so it was made with regular onions and white wine. I can't rave enough about this tangy sweet/sour marmalade. It's sweetened with honey.

                                                                    I also made the rice with various greens. It calls for basmati rice, but the wanted to use my organic brown basmati I just bought. It was also delicious. It's similar to Robert Lauriston's cilantro rice dish which has a thread here somewhere. I got a bag of "braising mix" in my CSA box this week and used a bunch of the greens from that. I chopped them up and added them to the rice after it had cooked. I put the covered pot over low heat and left it to wilt the greens. Another winner.

                                                                    I'm so glad I heard about Flexitarian Berley here on Home Cooking!

                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                      If you see this post, oakjoan, I'm interested to know exctly what the "braising mix" consisted of. TIA!

                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        Hi, Gio: Sorry this response is so late, but I didn't see it until today.

                                                                        The CSA "Braising Mix" was chard, spinach, some light green leaves that looked like nettles but weren't, and kale. I think that was all. I added some parsley, a bit of arugula and cilantro.

                                                                  2. So, thanks to this post, I bought a copy of Flexitarian Table a couple of months ago. Sadly, though, I've been too distracted to cook from it. But, I was flipping through it last night thinking I should start trying to cook from it. beetlebug, now that you've been cooking with this book for awhile, do you have any general recommendations for how to approach the cookbook and any recipes, in particular, that shine as your favorites? I'm just wondering how and where to start. Also, is there anything I should be stocking my pantry with?

                                                                    Thank you!


                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      Hi TDQ,

                                                                      I haven’t used this book recently and I was wondering why. I think it’s because summer veggies are superior to winter veggies. Most times, in the summer, I would look at my CSA box (it started in June) and figure out what I had a lot of, and then flip to the index to look at the choices. Usually, I could use at least 3 items for every meal. I also grow a lot of my own herbs, so I never really thought ahead with that (he uses a lot of rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil. I also grow hot peppers and would often throw a couple into the dish as well).

                                                                      Consequently, my favorite recipes are from the summer menus. Berley must be from the Northeast because the same veggies are in season. I made some dishes over and over, sometimes once a week. I’ve put asterixes next to the recipes that I’ve made more than four times. So, in numerical order, here are some of my favorite recipes:

                                                                      Baby Lamb Chops with lemon and green olives (pg. 62)
                                                                      **Grilled Shrimp in Harissa, pg. 112
                                                                      **Polenta with Sauteed cherry tomatoes, pg. 114
                                                                      **Tofu with Lemon, soy and butter sauce, pg. 126
                                                                      **Quinoa Salad with green beans, corn and tomatoes, pg. 128
                                                                      **Gazpacho with crumbled feta cheese, pg. 138
                                                                      **Farro with corn, red beans with either scallops or avocado, pg. 139 (I subbed wheat barley)
                                                                      Eggplants stuffed with rice, feta and rosemary, pg. 148
                                                                      Lemon Thyme Tofu, pg. 199
                                                                      **Shrimp with Brown butter and herbs, pg. 212
                                                                      Lamb Steak with thyme and mustard, pg. 238
                                                                      **Mustard Greens with Shallots and Vinegar, pg. 249
                                                                      **Pan seared tofu, pg. 254
                                                                      Soba with spinach and sesame oil, pg. 259

                                                                      This book was also great for my standard, I haven't planned for dinner, dinner. So, I tried to keep on hand:

                                                                      Basmati rice
                                                                      Japanese white rice or jasmine rice
                                                                      Tofu (boxed firm v. locally made tofu)
                                                                      Wheat Barley
                                                                      Spices needed for the harissa

                                                                      If you like/eat seitan or tempeh, that would probably also be useful to have in the fridge.

                                                                      What was especially useful were his menu planning tips at the start of each menu. This way, I could get a rough idea as to what I had to do. Must of the recipes don’t need a lot of marinating time but there was a fair amount of prep time (or at least in my head). De-stemming the green beans always seemed to take forever. But, I would prep the entire share at one time so I could easily use them as the week passed.

                                                                      I do think the oil can be decreased in each recipe. I’m not much of an oil measurer, but I doubt I used a quarter cup of oil if the recipe said so. Also, my favorite dish (tofu with lemon, soy and butter sauce), you could decrease the butter cubes on the tofu dish without losing the flavor. Some of the main dishes uses minimal oil (for the lamb steaks, you only brush the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.) Also, I’m sure you could sub in your wild rice or brown rice in place of the basmati rice. I haven’t done so because I am, unabashedly, a white rice eater.

                                                                      When I first started using this book. I did only buy as needed portions of quinoa and wheat barley. I didn’t want to buy a whole bag of something in case I didn’t like it. Since Whole Foods sells in bulk, it gave me an opportunity to try grains that I didn’t naturally gravitate towards. Now, I buy larger portions of quinoa and barley but haven’t yet tried farro.

                                                                      Essentially, I’ve posted every recipe I’ve tried. Now that it’s almost spring (fingers crossed), it’s time to revisit this book. Actually, I see that baby lamb chop with olive dish coming soon.

                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                        Excellent overview, thank you. We have a relatively new-found love for quinoa at our house, so that fits perfectly. I also have some farro I bought about 2 months ago, but have never used. Maybe I'll try one of those recipes first. All the vegetables here are either shipped in or frozen at this time of year, so, any vegetable we eat between now and June just isn't going to be that interesting anyway, I'm afraid. Nevertheless, we need to eat vegetables, so I have decided to forge ahead. I wish I could find a local source for homemade tofu. I dont' think I have the time or energy to make my own (though, I suppose I could try and see how hard it really is...), so I shall stick with the boxed stuff for awhile.

                                                                        Thank you so much!


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          Definitely try the tofu with lemon, butter, soy. Easy and delicious.

                                                                          I'm making the pan seared tofu over the soba noodles with spinach tonight.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            Well, after more three years, I finally tried the Tofu with Lemon, Butter and Soy... oh my!!!! It's outstanding! Restaurant quality, and will be going into my dinner party file!!

                                                                        2. re: beetlebug

                                                                          Oh, I love love love farro. It cooks up into something fluffy and supremely comforting. Thus far, I've only ever made Suzanne Goin's farro recipe from Sunday Suppers--fried onions, some herbs, and some butter and parsley at the end.

                                                                        3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          I'd also highly recommend the Bulgur (although I subbed couscous) with Roasted Chickpeas, Red Onion, and Lemon from Spring Menu 2. I think this could easily be a veg or vegan main course. Simple to make and lots of lovely colors, and very tasty. Two years ago my husband wouldn't touch chick peas or couscous, and he loved this one.

                                                                        4. Last night I made the Pan Seared Rosemary Tofu and Soba with Garlicky Spinach and Sesame Oil (Winter menu 1, pg. 254). All very easy to make.

                                                                          I really enjoyed the Soba with Garlicky Spinach and Sesame Oil. I think I'd make that again in a heartbeat - simple and full of flavor. I think, however, that I might do something different for the protein. Either just plain tofu or maybe toss in some peeled shrimp (anyone have any other ideas?). This is not because I didn't like the tofu, I just thought the tofu got a little lost in it.

                                                                          I'm wondering how else I could serve the tofu. The garlic/rosemary/cayenne/lemon thing makes me think Italian, and I did like it a lot. But I found that the lemon was overwhelmed by the sesame and soy sauce. Maybe just on a bed of garlicky spinach, with a side of simple pasta with olive oil?

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            My first instinct with the tofu is to serve it with rice. The problem is that there isn't any sauce and I like sauce with my rice as well. The tofu was quite firm - I wonder how it will taste in a sandwich.

                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                              Yeah, pasta and tofu just seems sort of weird to me, I have to admit, but the saucing (that lemon/garlic/rosemary business) would be so nice with something really simple on the side like pasta with just a little olive oil and some garlic. I *do* like the sandwich idea, The crispiness of the tofu was so nice, but for me lost in the soup (I have this problem with duck skin in soups too - that lovely crunch can get soggy pretty quickly).

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                And, maybe use the same spices for the pasta. Or, you can have the tofu on the side instead of in the soup.

                                                                                It's funny, it's the first time I've browned tofu. It came off the pan just like browned meat does.

                                                                                As you've probably noticed, I'm a bit of a tofu fan. I've made spaghetti sauce with tofu in place of ground beef.

                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                  And as you've probably noticed, I'm fairly new to tofu. And it was amazing the way it came off the pan just like meat. Again, I loved that meaty texture it got with the pan frying.

                                                                            2. re: LulusMom

                                                                              What about serving it at room temperature as a toss-in to a nice salad?

                                                                              1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                Served over a fairly simple salad (maybe with some shaved fennel and lemon juice/olive oil) would actually be lovely with this.

                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                  I love flavored, firm tofu as an added protein to salad.

                                                                                  Plus, it keeps well in the fridge for a few days - so make some on sunday and bring it to work in a salad.

                                                                            3. Next pay period, I am SO ordering this book.

                                                                              The reviews/recipes discussed here sound fantastic.

                                                                              1. Steak with Bread Crumb Salsa, page 108

                                                                                We liked this recipe a lot, even though we used a much cheaper cut of steak (tenderized round) than the recipe called for. We also used commercial whole wheat bread crumbs instead of making our own. We used parsley and a little mint for our "fresh herbs".

                                                                                What I thought was amazing about this recipe is the wonderful synergy among all the ingredients. The steak by itself--meh. The bread crumb salsa by itself--meh. Together: terrific.

                                                                                I served this with Cold Spinach with Creme Fraiche, Garlic and Black Pepper (April COTM) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50510... and grilled sweet potato fries (2 sweet potatoes, drizzled with 6 tsp olive, salt, and Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning).


                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  He really has a way of making very simple things taste amazing, doesn't he? I'm so glad you're having fun with the book too.

                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    He does, indeed. So far, with the two recipes I've tried, he's batting 100. (I don't count the quinoa recipe since I botched that so badly by adding salsa since my tomatoes were so pitiful...) I'm glad I finally gave myself the nudge I needed to start cooking from this book. I'm tempted to buy his other books Fresh Food Fast: Delicious, Seasonal Vegetarian Meals in Under an Hour and The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen for when my CSA starts. I think the latter book won a James Beard award for best vegetarian cookbook.


                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      Yep, they'll be going on my wish list.

                                                                                      Hey, any of you ever cooked with seitan? Doesn't sound especially exciting to me, but given how well these recipes seem to turn out, I"m willing to give it a shot.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        No, I really haven't cooked with seitan. I've purchased it more or less already prepared from the fridge case in my local co-op and warm it up, but that's not really the same. I'll be curious to see how that goes, if you try it! I'll eventually get around to trying it...


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          Last night I made another dish from Flex: Fregola Risotto Style with Chard and Feta Cheese. This dish was absolutely delicious. I'm always looking for different veg dishes, since we have a veg. friend who comes for dinner about once a month.

                                                                                          I'd never had fregola before. First, it's beautiful - different colored tiny balls in the cellophane package - reddish, whitish, yellowish,orangish, brownish.

                                                                                          The recipe calls for the fregola to be cooked as for risotto using a veggie broth that you prepare in advance. I cheated on the broth ingredients and used some of that Better Than Bouillon Mushroom base. The broth is water, chopped carrots, onions, celery, thyme and lemon. It also says you can include kombu but I didn't have any. I added some dried porcini instead. Simmers for about 30 minutes and then is strained and used as the liquid for the fregolotto. I actually put some of the vegs from the broth into the freg. while it cooked.

                                                                                          Then you saute onion, chopped carrots, celery, and chard stems
                                                                                          I had some lovely chard with the bright red stems from my CSA box and used that. Then you add chopped mushrooms, garlic and thyme and brown them for a few minutes.

                                                                                          The fregola is then added and he says to cook until "it smells toasty". This is a mistake in the recipe, I think, because the mix of sauteed veggies has a bit of moisture and no toasting is possible. I stirred them around for a few moments, then poured in the stock, brought to a boil, covered and turned down the heat. It simmers for about 15 minutes - a bit longer in my case - til the fregola is tender. Then you mix in the feta and some pepper (and salt, if needed).

                                                                                          I served this with a big salad, an Acme Rustic Baguette, and some asparagus sauteed in a bit of butter.

                                                                                          A VERY successful dinner. Too busy eating to photograph it.
                                                                                          I'm going to try the white bean tomato bread crumb gratin tonight.

                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                            I made the fregola dish last night but used farro. But I agree..to toast the grains you would have to empty the pan of the aromatics. I cheated and used a combination of chicken stock and water and it was quite good. Next time I will do this with fregola.

                                                                                2. Lentil & Rhubarb Curry with Potatoes and Peas, pg 20

                                                                                  We are trying to use up all of last season's rhubarb before this season's is ready, so...

                                                                                  I made several modifications to this recipe to fit my diet and tastes. Not everyone in my house is a fan of cumin, so, I added only half the amount the recipe called for (not to worry--cumin was definitely present in the dish!) I thought I had ground coriander, but didn't. Wah. So, I just left it out. I used canola oil instead of ghee and splenda instead of dark brown sugar. Otherwise, I followed the recipe to the letter.

                                                                                  We liked this okay. It wasn't a home-run, but, probably good enough to try again, with modifications. Since I'm not cooking for vegetarians, I'd probably use chicken stock instead of water and maybe some ground beef or tofu something along those lines--it just needs something with a texture that's not soft, I think. It would be a great recipe if you were fighting off a cold or flu in winter, with the cumin, ginger, onions, cabbage, rhubarb and the addition of chicken stock, it would be a cross-cultural home-cold remedy!

                                                                                  By the way, the rhubarb was a bit lost in this recipe--I had hoped it would be featured or highlighted somehow. I was kind of disappointed from that perspective. Sure, it added some sourness, but the rhubarb didn't seem to contribute much in the way of texture or color. It seemed like you could have accomplished the same with a squeeze of lemon or something.

                                                                                  Photos attached. The second photo isn't out of focus, it's steaming!

                                                                                  Now, I just need one more rhubarb recipe to be free of last season's rhubard...


                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    I'm going to make this tomorrow night and will check in with results. My family (me and hub) love cumin and so won't be cutting back.

                                                                                    I've written about this before, but here goes again. Rhubarb is wonderful over granola or muesli for breakfast. I first had this in Melbourne, Aus. They served stewed rhubarb over muesli with unsweetened yoghurt on top. A really delicious breakfast and a quite healthy one to boot.

                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                      It will be good to compare my outcome to the outcome of someone who actually follows the recipe! :). Let us know.

                                                                                      Though it sounds lovely, I'm not sure I'm a big enough fan of muesli to break my diet for it. Now, if you told me someone in Oz gave you a recipe for rhubarb Lamingtons, that would be another thing!


                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      I've been really thinking about this recipe - just can't get my mind around how it will work. I'm sort of surprised about the texture issue - the photos make the peas look lovely, and like they would pop in the mouth. Did that not happen? Anyway, thanks so much for the report. Helps to hear about it firsthand instead of just trying to figure out how it will taste.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        Oh, the peas were lovely. The potatoes were soft. It was a fine texture. The rhubarb completely breaks down and becomes bits of brown fiber...


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          Think it would work to add the rhubarb a little later so it retains some of its integrity?

                                                                                          (It's just about my favorite substance and we will have the fresh local stuff here soon, snow notwithstanding.)

                                                                                          1. re: karykat

                                                                                            Maybe--it's worth a try, although, honestly, my rhubarb was frozen and, therefore, had little integrity even before I tossed it in. Maybe you get different results with fresh?


                                                                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            Hmm, yeah, that makes sense. I've cooked with it and it does just kind of turn into mush. I wonder if he just put it into the recipe to make it different from the usual potato and pea curry (although you did say it added a little bit of sourness).

                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                              I know! It will be interesting to see what oakjoan thinks.


                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                It's cooking as I write this. Of course I made several substitutions due to lack of attention when writing down the ingredients and orneriness about not really being a big fan of puy lentils and so used regular green ones. I also forgot to buy the cabbage and had to use kale, so this may be an unfair interpretation of Berley's recipe.

                                                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                  Well, we've now eaten the Flexitarian Table's lentils with rhubarb. It was quite nice but nothing spectacularly different from the lentils I usually make. As I said, I didn't have cabbage and used kale as a sub.

                                                                                                  The main feeling I had about this was that the rhubarb seemed to pretty much disappear. I don't mean the texture, but the taste. Maybe it made it a bit sour, but not noticeably. I do love lentils cooked with Indian spices. I served it with some raita I made with yoghurt and chopped green onions and a bit of cinlantro. Also heated up some of those expensive tortillas (Mi Abuelita?) as a naan sub. A good dinner, but nothing impressive and I doubt I'll try this dish in future - I'd rather use the rhubarb for a pie or as I described earlier, over granola or meusli with yoghurt for breakfast.

                                                                                                  My husband felt the same about this.

                                                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                    Yep---this is more or less what we thought, except we liked it enough for variety's sake, and will probably make it again. But, we live in a place that probably begs more warms soups than where you live, and I don't often cook lentils so don't really have other lentils recipes to compete with this one...

                                                                                                    But, yeah, it seemed like a poor use of rhubarb. If this were iron chef and rhubarb were the secret ingredient, the judges would complain about this dish not being rhubarb-y enough.


                                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                      Hmmm, well, it is good to know. It sounds like you and TDQ had very similar experiences. Pretty much made me decide not to bother with that recipe - thanks for being the guinea pigs on this one ladies...

                                                                                                      I made a recipe from the book last night and am fighting the urge to report on it here, thinking I should wait until the CotM links go up.

                                                                                          3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            There's a rhubarb compote in Sunday Suppers that I love. Mixed in with yogurt and flax seeds, it makes for an awesome breakfast.

                                                                                          4. I'd like to resurrect this thread, since I just got this cookbook. I am looking forward to trying all the recipes recommended here, especially the tofu with lemon and wine. About the only other way I eat tofu is in green curry, so this will broaden my horizons.

                                                                                            I have tried 2 recipes so far (it is too hard for me to do an entire menu of new recipes on weeknights). I made the brown rice risotto style with greens. It is a great dish, very simple, and had a great way to cook brown rice that worked way better than other methods I have used (he soaks the rice in a measured amount of water for 4-12 hours in the fridge before cooking). I used brown jasmine because that is what I had on hand, and served it with grilled halibut and a really nice Semillon/Sauvingnon blanc blend. Great Sunday dinner, and the leftover rice was a good lunch a few days later. I will certainly make this again.

                                                                                            Last night, I tried the millet/cauliflower polenta as a side for some oven baked fish filets coated in pistachio crumbs. It was okay, but I didn't love it, I would probably stick to corn polenta (which I love) and leave millet for the birds!

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: dkenworthy

                                                                                              dkenworthy, Flexitarian Table was Cookbook of the Month last May, so you'll get even more intelligence from perusing those threads (and it would be great if you'd continue reporting your experiences on them!).

                                                                                              Here's the master thread, with links to the various threads covering different dishes: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514822

                                                                                              1. re: dkenworthy

                                                                                                Hi dkenworthy,

                                                                                                Flexitarian was actually chosen to be the May 2008 Cookbook of the Month, so you'll find lots more recs and recipe reports here:


                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                  Thanks for the links, I don't do so well navigating through past posts. Cheers, dk