Originally published in 1997, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone was both ahead of its time and an instant classic. It has endured as one of the world’s most popular vegetarian cookbooks, winning both a James Beard Foundation award and the IACP Julia Child Cookbook of the Year award.
Now The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone picks up where that culinary legacy left off, with more than 1,600 classic and exquisitely simple recipes for home cooks, including a new introduction, more than 200 new recipes, and comprehensive updated information on vegetables and vegan ingredients. A treasure from a truly exceptional culinary voice, The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is not just for vegetarians and vegans—it’s for everyone interested in learning how to cook vegetables creatively, healthfully, and passionately.
Reprinted with permission from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Support your local bookstore, or buy the book through our affiliate links at IndieBound or Amazon.com.
Photography used for this excerpt © by Andre Baranowski.
Wine With Vegetables
Wine has largely been consumed in meat-eating cultures, and pairing wines with foods usually links them directly to particular animal foods, their fats and flavors (and their sauces), while vegetables have listed somewhat to the side. So thinking about wine with vegetable involves making a shift to the other center of the plate. And while many think of this as limiting, plant foods offer a challenging but expansive platform from which to think about—and drink—wine. There are plenty of wines that are great to drink with vegetables so you needn’t restrict yourself to Sauvignon Blanc, the wine so often designated for vegetarian dishes. A good Burgundy, for example, can be enjoyed with a mushroom risotto or ragout where earthiness is present in both.
Not only meat’s robust flavor but its fats and salts support bigger wines, which is one reason that cream, cheese butter, oils, and nuts—all fats—can align themselves so beautifully with those fuller-bodied reds or oaked whites that can be harder to place in the vegetarian menu. Even adding a shaving of aged parmesan or Gouda cheese to a vegetable dish can bring it into focus for wine. Fat in some form is what makes vegetables with wine work. Celery with a glass of white wine is not the same as celery stuffed with goat cheese laced with thyme. Then you might want to go right to the Loire valley for a Sancerre.
Many vegetables are naturally sweet, but not all are. Eggplant and mushroom, for example, are not sweet and both tend to be more easily allied with red wines than, say, winter squash. But as tempting as it is to try to match a vegetable with a wine and have that be useful information, what ultimately matters is how that vegetable is prepared and it is partnered with and seasoned with, factors that can change the balance of sweetness and acidity in vegetables. Beets with ginger and chile are different than beets with butter; raw tomatoes are not the same as tomatoes cooked with garlic, olives and mushrooms, or tomatoes simmered with cream. Asparagus is grassy when simmered, but grill or roast it and those grassy notes become something else. Add a sauce of cream and black pepper or with a soft cows’ milk cheese and it’s fine with a fruity red wine, an unoaked chardonnay or a Chablis. Artichokes are more difficult as they tend to make wine taste sweet, but grilling helps change that and so does searing, and mixing them with other vegetables and perhaps a goat cheese helps make them more flexible. If you’re not already drinking wine and the artichoke comes along, consider an acidic white, such as an Arneis, Greek whites, or try a Verdicchio with an artichoke risotto. On the other hand, if you ask a dozen people to advise on artichokes and wine, you’ll probably get as many different suggestions.
Herbs can influence a dish, too. Rosemary, thyme, bay, and sometimes sage set a flavor tone that is much more hospitable to fuller bodied, softer red wines than, say, cilantro, chervil, parsley, and dill, which are happier with sharper whites or even sparkling wines.
When it comes to serving wine with salads, you’ll want to consider making dressings with low-acid vinegars, citrus juices, or a greater proportion of oil to acid than usual so that the salad doesn’t fight with the wine. A little crème fraiche or cream whisked into the dressing can replace some of the vinegar, too. Or consider making a vinaigrette with some avocado in it to lessen its acidity. A good way to make a wine choice is to consider using the salad ingredients themselves as ways to build a connection to a particular wine. Nuts (and nut oils) cheeses, olives, mushrooms (especially when seared or grilled), vegetables, either grilled or fresh, herbs, spices, and even fruits can suggest a linkage to particular wines, though in general, a white wine is what you’ll want for a salad.
If you’re cooking food from a particular part of the world it makes sense to turn to the wines of that area. Tuscany’s Chianti is a natural choice to serve with the foods and flavors of Tuscany. When it comes to Greek wines, look at some of the varietals we don’t have here. Some wines I’ve had in Greece are neither familiar nor pronounceable, but they are absolutely right with the flavors of Greek vegetable-based dishes.
Harmonizing wines with food creates a union of tastes that’s larger and more exciting than either single element, which is why we strive to make matches and pairings. But wine preferences, like any other, end up being a rather personal matter, for we all experience taste in our own ways. What tastes good or right to you may differ from my own inclinations and that really doesn’t matter as long as we enjoy what we drink. Plus, not everyone is scurrying around to find the perfect wine for a particular dish. Many of us just drink what we’re drinking and if there really is an argument with the wine and food, we back off the wine. Still, it’s good to find out what we like and what works and one way to do that is to experiment.
To build a wine and food vocabulary, it helps to jot down what wine and food combinations really worked—and those that didn’t, too! Or update your wine information by drinking new vintages as they come in and reading articles on current wines. If you can, talk with someone who knows about wines. There are many knowledgeable people, often those who run wine bars or good wine stores. I’m fortunate to have a wine guru in my friend and neighbor Greg O’Byrne, who has been the executive director [of] Santa Fe’s Wine and Chile Fiesta for the past 20 years. I turn to him often for advice, and here is what he has to say about wines for the twenty-first century:
“It’s no coincidence that the food movement over the last couple decades towards eating lighter and healthier— more vegetables and less meat—has paralleled a change in America’s wine drinking habits. Where oak, tannin, power and weight once ruled the day, the landscape has changed to include more and more wines of finesse, liveliness and higher acids, all of which translates to more food friendliness.
“The welcome surge of wines with less oak, less alcohol, less weight is concomitant with wines of more acid, more palate-refreshing zippiness and simple downright fun! Where once white wine with fish and red wine with meat meant big Chardonnay with a butter sauce and hefty Cabernet with a grilled steak, the variety and style of wines available (along with our food choices) has exploded. Wine choices for all types of dining have never been so varied. It’s an exciting time.
“Unoaked higher-acid wines from Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Soave, Fiano di Avellino and even Chardonnay, to name just a few, have taken over the white wine category. Reds with heft, tannin and higher alcohols have been pushed aside for lighter style and lower alcohol reds from Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Barbera and Chianti, all of which are incredibly food friendly because of their mouth-pleasing higher acids.
“Rosé as a category has moved out of the age-old misnomer of a sweet wine to the forefront of our dry wine drinking habits. Every wine region and more and more wineries offer their version of a rosé wine and these blush wines made from any number of different red grapes in the style of a white wine have an unparalleled broad range of food-friendliness. And where once it was mostly consumed as a beverage for celebration or holidays, Champagne and sparkling wine have become more and more a weekday beverage for wine consumers. And for good reason—the scrubbing bubbles and liveliness of sparkling wines have a lip-smacking appeal at our modern dining table.
“Today’s wines of higher acid and less weight are lighter and livelier wines with an incomparable flexibility that happily parallels the change in our eating habits, changes that include more vegetables and spice and less fat and protein. Vegetarians (and meat eaters alike) have never had it so good.” All that said, don’t forget to raise your glasses, no matter what’s in them, in the name of friendship and pleasure.
This stock adds so much to soups and sauces that it’s worth freezing in cubes or 1-cup amounts to have on hand. Makes about 6 cups.
½ to 1 ounce dried porcini, about ½ to 1 cup
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped leek greens and leek roots, if available
¼ cup chopped walnuts or almonds, optional
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 thyme sprigs or ¼ teaspoon dried
Aromatics (page 21), including 10 sage leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
2 teaspoons sea salt
Shake the dried mushrooms in a sieve to loosen the forest dirt, then let soak in enough warm water to cover them. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is well browned, about 15 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the juices that have collected there, then add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid, the remaining ingredients, and 9 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Strain.
Dried Wild Mushroom Risotto
The mushroom stock combined with the red wine makes a risotto with flavor to match its mahogany color. A good choice for a company meal. In lieu of making your own stock, a commercial mushroom stock is not a bad choice. Serves 4.
½ ounce or more dried porcini
5½ cups Mushroom Stock or commercial mushroom stock
2 tablespoons butter, plus extra to finish
3 plump shallots, finely diced
1½ cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
½ cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons chopped parsley or a mixture of parsley and rosemary
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
Sea salt and freshly milled pepper
Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup warm water for 30 minutes, then lift them out and strain the liquid. Add it to the stock and bring to a simmer. Finely chop the mushrooms.
Heat the butter in a wide soup pot, add the shallots, and cook over medium heat until translucent and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and wine and simmer until the wine is absorbed, stirring a few times, then add 2 cups stock, cover, and cook at a lively simmer until it’s absorbed. Begin adding the stock in ½-cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next. When the rice is cooked, stir in the parsley, cheese, and an additional tablespoon or two of butter. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Deborah Madison is the author of eleven cookbooks and is well known for her simple, seasonal, vegetable-based cooking. She got her start in the San Francisco Bay Area at Chez Panisse before opening Greens, and has lived in New Mexico for the last twenty years. In addition to writing and teaching, she has served on the boards of Slow Food International Biodiversity Committee, the Seed Savers Exchange, and the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance, among others. She is actively involved in issues of biodiversity, gardening and sustainable agriculture.