The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley offers recipes that can please both vegetarians and carnivores, like Roasted Squash Potage with Spiced Crème Fraîche, Sautéed Escarole with Red Pepper Garlic, and Baked Fish/Ricotta Dumplings over French Lentils.
by Peter Berley
1. A person who is mainly a vegetarian but who occasionally eats fish or meat.
2. Someone who is not a vegetarian but enjoys meatless meals.
Today a single family can include strict vegetarians and passionate meat lovers. When company shows up, the situation gets even more complicated. How can one meal please everybody without driving the cook crazy? The award-winning author Peter Berley has the answer: flexible, exciting dishes designed to satisfy vegetarians and nonvegetarians simultaneously in his latest cookbook, The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between.
Given the confusion most of us face when it comes to our diets, flexitarianism, with its healthful emphasis on grains, lean proteins, and beans, is an appealing one. Many of the recipes in The Flexitarian Table are "convertible" recipes: main courses that work equally well meatless or meat-full. You can prepare both versions simultaneously, if you choose. It's as simple as separating the ingredients into two bowls or pots before incorporating the protein to make Crispy Pressed Chicken/Tofu with Garlic and Mint or Portobello Mushrooms/Steak with Bread Crumb Salsa.
Berley has arranged these recipes into full flexitarian meals, composed of two or three dishes, in which everyone is satisfied and no one is shortchanged. Organized by season, to highlight produce at its best, and prepared by methods suited to that time of year, the menus are compellingly cross-cultural. For spring there's Smoked Salmon/Sun-Dried-Tomato Croque Monsieur with Spring Greens in Dill Vinaigrette. In summer try Grilled Shrimp in Harissa and Fresh Corn Polenta with Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes. Celebrate fall harvest and make Lasagna with Fall Vegetables, Gruyere, and Sage Bechamel and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fennel Seeds and Balsamic. and warm up in winter with Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks/Red Beans in White Wine with Escarole. and of course, since the main meaning of the word flexitarian is "flexible," all of the more than 100 dishes in the book can be mixed and matched with ease.
As Peter Berley says in his Introduction, "This book is all about inclusion: including people who eat in different ways, including different ingredients, and including great taste and good nutrition in every menu. It's about relationships and respecting the different needs of everyone who comes to the table and making them all feel welcomed and richly provided for, however they choose to eat."
The book also inspires innovation. The recipes, while sophisticated, require only moderate experience in the kitchen. Whether you're tentative in the kitchen or you cook a lot and are interested in new ideas and combinations, whether you're cooking for vegetarians or meat eaters or both, this book will encourage you to create a cuisine that offers health and pleasure in equal measures.
Peter Berley is the author of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, which won a James Beard Award and an IACP Award. He is a frequent contributor to Cooking Light, Food & Wine, Health, Fine Cooking, and Everyday with Rachael Ray.
This page created September 2007
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