The appeal of vegetarian and vegan dishes is growing in kitchens across America, as campaigns like Meatless Mondays persuade cooks to skip meat and dairy, for one meal at least.

If you are considering serving a vegetables-only supper to skeptical family members, you can hardly ask for a more reliable co-conspirator than “Meatless,” the new volume from Martha Stewart Living. “The evidence that eating less meat protects against heart disease, cancer and several other diseases is more and more compelling,” Allana Stang writes in the introduction. “And for all the dietary confusion we face, nutritionists have yet to say a bad word about vegetables.”

Theories make weak seasoning, though. “Any diet that’s worth keeping has to make sense to our taste buds, not just our heads,” Stang says. That’s where Martha Stewart Living cookbooks like Meatless excel: Providing foolproof recipes that not only satisfy the picky, but make you proud to present them at table. (Well, for the most part. There’s only so much you can do to pretty up Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Soup.)

That’s the exception, though. From Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa through Grilled Polenta and Balsamic Mushrooms and Warm Edamame Salad, built on frozen edamame and fresh snap peas, these are dishes that first engage the eyes. There are vivid, detailed color photographs of all the dishes, and with the extensive testing that backs up the recipes, you can be reasonably certain of achieving a fair facsimile.

Recipes cover small plate ideas, stovetop suppers, soups, casseroles, salads, sandwiches and pizzas, and more. The ingredients are mostly available at local markets, and they don’t rely on processed meat substitutes designed to mimic meat. Adding to the volume’s usefulness, the thorough index denotes vegan, gluten-free and special diet (meaning no dairy, wheat, soy or nuts) with easy-to-scan icons.

Each section includes a guide to a dish that can be harnessed to make use of practically any ingredient cooks have to use up. That’s bruschetta, risotto, chili, lasagna, grain salad, pizza margherita, pesto, then mashes and purees. Even those should equip the new vegetarian cook for a year of Meatless Mondays. Find the recipe for Arugula, Potato and Green Bean Salad at the Hungry for More Blog.


By Martha Stewart Living

Potter, 384 pages softcover, $25