Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean

by The Gilded Fork

by the editors of Vegetarian Times

If you are looking to lighten your diet up with heart-healthy ingredients such as olive oil, grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, look no further. The editors from Vegetarian Times magazine have put together a collection of mouthwatering and healthy recipes, all of which embrace the sunny Mediterranean culture and its many healthy benefits.

What sets Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean apart from other Mediterranean cookbooks on the shelf, besides all of the delicious recipes, is that it begins with forty pages featuring information on each country in the region and what ingredients that country is known for, along with your personal guide to the Mediterranean diet. The guide is comprehensive, with details about each ingredient or food from that region, and a model comparing the Mediterranean Food Pyramid to the United States Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid is especially interesting, showing that this diet actually advocates a glass of wine with dinner as well as a variety of pastas, all toasted to your health.

In the section entitled What is the “Mediterranean Diet”? the editors thoroughly examine each food group on the pyramid and how it benefits your health. It explains easily that though olive oil may be rich in monounsaturated fat, it is equally low in saturated fat, therefore lowering “bad” cholesterol while at the same time raising “good” cholesterol. All the more reason to indulge in the delicious Olive Oil Cake featured in their dessert section! Light, moist and incredibly simple to prepare, this cake has a delicate hint of citrus attributed to the orange and lemon zest folded into the batter. I dusted a chilled olive oil cake lightly with powdered sugar and was amazed at how the cake tasted nothing like oil, but more like a heavenly pound cake…minus all of the butter!

The 250 recipes in this book are clearly labeled and well laid out, each including the nutritional information for the dish as well as serving suggestions and from what country the dish hails from. A long list of sections in this cookbook includes a chapter dedicated to fresh homemade bread and chewy whole-grain pizza crust. Who wouldn’t love to come home to a warm Faro and Sun-Dried Tomato Foccacia or Fennel Sesame Bread just out of the oven? Many of the recipes are also accented by beautiful photographs highlighting key fresh ingredients in the dishes.

I also experimented with the recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Orange Salad, which was light and refreshing with chunks of fresh roasted asparagus, romaine lettuce, basil and a delightful crunch of toasted almond. However, what really made it stand apart from the rest was its citrus vinaigrette: A mixture of freshly squeezed orange juice, lime juice, olive oil and garlic, this dressing was truly phenomenal and also easy to prepare.

Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean is a wonderful cookbook for any home chef’s repertoire, as the Mediterranean diet is a tasty one emphasizing the mantra that “everything is good in moderation.” The home chef is encouraged to understand that while olive oil and nuts contain heart-healthy fats, they should be eaten in moderation and balanced with fresh vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy. Due to its clear and concise guide to the region, easy-to-follow recipes and lovely pictures, this book is very accessible, more so than other Mediterranean books on the market.

Take yourself on a culinary vacation to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean with this inspiring cookbook, where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the countless (and tasty!) health benefits that come with this delicious way of eating.

Review by Jennifer Weber

Jennifer Weber is a senior at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. Her collection of cookbooks is downright scary, but we’re hoping she’ll move them temporarily into the main Gilded Fork house so we can catch up on some reading.

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