Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Recipes That Make a Meal
Marie Simmons loves bold, imaginative flavors from around the world, and her magically simple combinations have been featured in many magazines, from Redbook to Bon Appétit, where she was a popular columnist, and in her award-winning cookbooks. Over the years, she has come to rely more and more on vegetables and grains, because, as she says,
Marie Simmons loves bold, imaginative flavors from around the world, and her magically simple combinations have been featured in many magazines, from Redbook to Bon Appétit, where she was a popular columnist, and in her award-winning cookbooks. Over the years, she has come to rely more and more on vegetables and grains, because, as she says, “They taste good and they make me feel better.”
Now, in Fresh & Fast Vegetarian, she offers up more than 150 of her favorite dinners. Most can be made in half an hour or less, and for each one, Simmons provides an equally easy accompaniment. Like Roasted Vegetables and Mozzarella Quesadillas, some are meals in themselves, while others are smaller dishes that can be paired to create a quick but sumptuous dinner. A number of Simmons’s nearly effortless, vibrant recipes are vegan. Each tells exactly how long it will take to prepare. Fresh & Fast Vegetarian also provides hundreds of tips for shortcuts and substitutions.
Featured Recipe from Marie Simmons’s Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Toasted Quinoa, Corn and Avocado Salad
“Of all the meals I enjoy cooking, soup is my favorite,” Marie says, “Soup-making techniques are not etched in stone. The experience can be fluid, generous and spontaneous. You can follow a recipe or not.”
Here are some quick tips to get you started:
A large (5- to 8-quart capacity) wide pot with two opposing handles, often called a Dutch oven, works best for soup.
The fresher the ingredients, the better the soup. Relegate limp and tired vegetables to the compost bin.
If you have a mishap and the vegetables turn black, throw them out. All the spices in the world can’t mask burned vegetables. Take a deep breath and start over.
Warm spices in olive oil over low heat, 1 to 2 minutes, perhaps with the garlic, if using. Warmed, lightly toasted spices release their flavor and add a full, complex taste to the soup.
Dried herbs are twice as strong as their fresh counterparts and should be used sparingly. Add them to the hot broth or other liquid, where they will slowly rehydrate.
Add fresh herbs at the end of the cooking time so they retain their bright, fresh taste. Stir half of them into the soup and use the remainder to sprinkle on top as a garnish.
If your soup is a little blah, it may simply need a squirt of fresh lemon or lime juice, an extra shower of finely chopped herb, a drizzle of olive oil or a swirl of yogurt.
Tips for pureed soups:
Pureeing is a snap with a lightweight handheld immersion blender. This handy tool allows you to puree the soup directly in the pot, eliminating the need to transfer the soup back and forth and saving messy cleanup.
Cool the soup slightly before pureeing in a blender or food processor. A boiling hot soup can expand and spill over dangerously. Be careful not to overfill. If the soup is warm, hold the lid down with a folded towel.
An old-fashioned food mill will remove seeds and skins and produce a thicker-textured soup than a blender.