Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Recipes That Make a Meal

by Marie Simmons

Approximately 150 simple vegetarian dinners.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547368917
  • ISBN-10: 0547368917
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication Date: 04/07/2011
  • Carton Quantity: 24

About the book

Marie Simmons loves bold, imaginative flavors from around the world, and her magically simple combinations have been featured in many magazines, from Redbook to Bon Appétit, where she was a popular columnist, and in her award-winning cookbooks. Over the years, she has come to rely more and more on vegetables and grains, because, as she says, "They taste good and they make me feel better."

Now, in Fresh & Fast Vegetarian, she offers up more than 150 of her favorite dinners. Most can be made in half an hour or less, and for each one, Simmons provides an equally easy accompaniment. Like Roasted Vegetables and Mozzarella Quesadillas, some are meals in themselves, while others are smaller dishes that can be paired to create a quick but sumptuous dinner. A number of Simmons's nearly effortless, vibrant recipes are vegan. Each tells exactly how long it will take to prepare. Fresh & Fast Vegetarian also provides hundreds of tips for shortcuts and substitutions.

About the author
Marie Simmons

The winner of a Julia Child Award and two James Beard Awards, MARIE SIMMONS is a cooking teacher and the author of more than a dozen cookbooks, including Sur La Table'sThings Cooks Love, Fresh & Fast,The Good Egg, and 365 Ways to Cook Pasta.She was a columnist for Bon Appétitfor eighteen years.



My transition from omnivore to mostly vegetarian was gradual enough to register

as a nonevent. I only wish I had a dramatic revelation to share. Although

I care deeply about the health of the planet, the treatment of the animals we

eat and how our food is grown, there was nothing sudden or militant about my

choosing vegetarian meals. The simple fact is I eat plant-based foods because

they taste good and they make me feel better.

I come to the vegetarian table as a person who loves food, loves to cook and

loves big, bold imaginative fl avors. As my repertoire of ingredients and techniques

and my knowledge of cooking grow, I fi nd myself cooking meat less and

less often. My mantra is fast, great-tasting recipes that use the freshest ingredients


I grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley, surrounded by farms. It wasn’t unusual to

come home after school on a September afternoon to bags of freshly harvested

tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini (and their glorious blossoms, which Mom fried and

we ate like potato chips) or just-picked corn lined up on the back steps. These

were gifts from neighbors and relatives, happy to share the bounty of their


My mother, a schoolteacher and an excellent Italian cook who often quoted her

grandmother’s saying, “I’d rather spend money on good food than on the doctor,”

believed that food was the medicine we needed. And to Mom, that meant

lots of vegetables. Vegetables, she claimed, had magical powers that would

make us big and strong, give us bright eyes and shining hair and ward off that

dreaded visit to the doctor. I believed her.

Another major reason for the vegetarian shift at my table must be credited to

the growth in the glorious farmers’ market movement. Growing up in an agrarian

region, I took the local farm stand bounty and the produce from neighbors

for granted. Later, as a young adult, I made my way to the big city. It was a time

of change. The Union Square Market in the middle of Lower Manhattan opened.

Saturday mornings, without fail, my husband, John, and I hopped on our bikes

and pedaled over the Brooklyn Bridge to stock up. We must have been quite

a sight, with ears of corn bungeed over our back wheels and backpacks bulging

with peaches, tomatoes, green beans and, of course, a bouquet of fl owers

sticking out of the top. This adventure was simply an extension of my childhood.

Some of the same farmers who supplied the local farm stands I visited with Mom

as a kid were even there.

But no matter how experienced a cook you are, getting a vegetarian meal

on the table day after day can be a challenge. One solution is to move the

starch — whole grains or beans — to the center of the plate and surround it with

ample servings of vegetables. One of my favorite meals is creamy white cannellini

beans topped with blistered cherry tomatoes and salty black olives, served

with a side dish of broccoli fl orets stir-fried with crunchy walnuts and red onion

slivers. The comforting meatiness of the beans, the tanginess of the tomatoes,

the saltiness of the olives and the exciting mix of fl avors and textures in the

broccoli give the plate contrasts in taste, color and texture — all the elements I

look for in a meal.

In this book, “fast” means a meal that takes between 30 and 45 minutes to

cook. Since prep times vary according to your skill and style in the kitchen, it’s

diffi cult to estimate them reliably, but most of the recipes in this book can be

made in half to three-quarters of an hour. If a recipe does take longer than 45

minutes, it is marked “When You Have More Time.” All the recipes include

menu ideas for combining two or three dishes — suggestions intended to help

you pull together a hearty, satisfying and delicious meal. Use them as a springboard,

but feel free to mix and match the recipes throughout the book to create

your own favorite combinations.

Recently, a friend who was attempting to transition into cooking more vegetarian

meals complained, “Gosh, I spend a lot of time chopping.” It’s true that

when you’re dealing with fresh produce, there can be a lot of trimming, rinsing

and chopping, but over the years, I’ve discovered ways to reduce prep and cook

times. For instance, potatoes, beets and winter squash cook in half the time

when the pieces are sliced or cubed. Searing food in a heavy skillet is quicker

than oven-roasting. Although I prefer vegetables fresh from the farmers’ market,

I keep bagged, trimmed supermarket vegetables on hand for emergencies. The

quickest-cooking members of the grains-and-beans clan — quinoa, bulgur, farro,

white rice and lentils — are always in the pantry, and I keep a batch of brown rice

soaking in water, refrigerated, overnight, which cuts the cooking time almost

by half.

To help you avoid the frustration of not having a specifi c ingredient, I’ve included

user-friendly substitutions at the end of many of the recipes. And for

those who prefer no dairy or eggs, more than half of the recipes in this book are

labeled “Vegan.” Quick Hits — short recipes that encourage you to add a simple

embellishment to a basic food — appear at the beginning of each chapter. For

example, jazz up a batch of cooked bulgur or quinoa with garlic and almonds

tossed in warm olive oil or add crumbled feta cheese, dried fruit and pistachios

to a salad of mixed greens.

Whether it’s a bowl of fancy lettuces garnished with cheese curls, dried fruits and

nuts or a simple soup or hearty stew laced with exotic spices, a vegetarian meal

need not be a challenge or a cause of frustration. As my mother and grandmother

knew, the ultimate goal of the cook is to be certain everyone has something

good to eat.

Vegetable Black-Eyed Pea and Orzo Soup (Vegan omit the cheese topping)

Think of this as a version of minestrone, with frozen black-eyed peas, orzo, Kalamata olives,

dried oregano and lemon zest giving it a Greek twist. To extend the theme, top each

steaming bowl of soup with crumbled feta. If you don’t have the precooked vegetables

from the broth on hand, follow the “from scratch” recipe.

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6

6 cups Easy Basic Vegetable Broth

(page 46)

2 cups frozen black-eyed peas

. cup orzo

2 cups cooked vegetables from Easy

Basic Vegetable Broth

. cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Coarse salt and freshly ground black


.–. cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1 Bring the broth to a boil in a soup pot. Add the blackeyed

peas and the orzo and cook over low heat, stirring

occasionally, until the orzo and peas are both soft to the

bite, about 20 minutes.

2 Add the cooked vegetables, olives, oregano and lemon

zest and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3 To serve, ladle the warm soup into bowls and sprinkle

each with about 2 tablespoons crumbled feta, if using.


“From-Scratch” Vegetable, Black-Eyed Pea and Orzo

Soup: Cook the vegetables in oil as instructed in step

1 of Easy Basic Vegetable Broth (page 46). Add 6 cups

(instead of 9 cups) water and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Scoop the vegetables out of the broth with a slotted

spoon and set aside. Add the orzo and black-eyed

peas to the broth as instructed in step 1 of the soup

recipe and proceed.

Make a Meal

Serve with Twice-Cooked Broccoli

Rabe with Red Pepper and Garlic

Oil (page 179...


"Recipes do live up to the book's title...definitely appealing, and a notch or two more interesting and sophisticated than standard vegetarian fare...a practical resource for those who want to add more easy meatless options to their repertoire."

Publishers Weekly

"Marie Simmons consistently and quietly works her magic without fuss or fanfare. Put yourselves in her capable hands, and all will go well in your kitchen, meal after delicious meal."

—Mollie Katzen, author Moosewood Cookbook