Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cookbook Review--Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein

I have a friend who frequently takes long walks with me by Long Island Sound.  It's great exercise, and our conversations ramble on from topic to topic.  We often have a hard time parting.

A few weeks ago during one of these rambles, we began discussing if you can truly be a yogi and eat meat.   My friend, like me, tries to eat as little meat as possible, but doesn't want to take that step into full vegetarianism or veganism.

That talk, of course, led to finding good, tasty, vegan and vegetarian recipes.   The kind of recipes that are easy to prepare, don't require any exotic ingredients that you can't pick up at the local market, and will satisfy dubious family members.

My friend recommended a series of Vegan cook-books by author Donna Klein.    She described some of the recipes, and they sounded yummy.   So  once I got home, I immediately went to (because I had several B&N gift cards).   While several of Ms. Klein's cookbooks had potential, I purchased her Vegan Italiano book since I'm Italian and am already used to cooking in the Italian style.
When I got the book and began perusing the recipes, I was really pleasantly surprised.  Unlike most vegan or vegetarian cookbooks, I couldn't find one recipe containing soy, tofu, or any kind artificial, processed vegan substitute.  No vegan cheese, no egg substitutes, just real ingredients  that you can pretty much find in any good supermarket.

I have to admit I pretty much loathe tofu, and in any event I'm supposed to now be avoiding soy products following my breast cancer so finding a vegan cookbook that just uses real natural ingredients and doesn't try to make "meat and cheese substitute" meals was a god-send.  

If I have to say one thing about this cookbook is that it is truly a vegan cookbook for non-vegans.   If you're like me and just want to eat vegan more frequently without completely crossing over, than I highly recommend this book.

Being that it's an Italian cookbook there are literally dozens of main course pasta ideas.   Pasta is always a huge hit in our house, so I appreciate getting ideas for new veggie combos.   The fettuccine with Mushrooms and Marsala went over real well for dinner last week.   

The appetizer section is also extensive, and I've used several of the recipes to provide "healthier" appetizer fare.    I particularly love the Italian-style butter bean dip as an alternative to the usual fat-filled appetizer dips.

And, the salad recipes are the best I've seen in any cook-book in a while.   Last night I made the Arugula, Fennel and Radicchio Salad with Raisins and Pine Nuts.   The toasted pine nuts complemented the mix of greens and the licorice test of the fennel superbly, and the orange vinaigrette was so good, I'm planning on making a batch of it just to put on other salads.  

My one and only complaint?? Not enough pictures.  I have to admit that I'm one of those people who actually likes to see in pictures what I'm making.    But that doesn't detract from the overall qualities of the cook-book.

Plus, I'm planning on ordering another one of Ms. Klein's books (I still have some B&N gift cards from the Holidays).


  1. If you like that one, you'll like :The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen" by the same author. Of the two, it's my favorite by far -- and I LOVE Italian food. You might also like Martha Rose Shulman's "Mediterranean Harvest". It's vegetarian, not vegan, but very good. One of my favorites and I'm definitely not vegetarian/vegan.