What’s Cooking: Family Dinners
Vegetarian cookbooks have pride of place in my kitchen, but my collection of hundreds also includes many ‘regular’ cookbooks: cookbooks from restaurants I love, like one from Fog City Diner, or celebrity cookbooks. I’m partial to: Nigella Lawson and Rachael Ray.
When I travel and find a great restaurant – Fog City is in San Francisco – I sometimes buy the cookbook as a travel souvenir. You can be transported back to the beaches of Greece or a romantic dinner in New Orleans just by thumbing through a cookbook.
I also have a number of family cookbooks, and two new cookbooks offer weekday solutions, with simple, healthy dishes that parents can full together quickly. But these are not limited to pasta and bland chicken variations; you can find interesting recipes that you might incorporate into your weekly repertoire, and still find yourself making after the kids have their own apartments.
Good Bite Weeknight Meals features recipes from over a dozen bloggers, and the seafood, pasta and vegetarian chapters give vegetarian cooks plenty of options. One stand-out is the scallop and artichoke pasta, which takes about 20 minutes to throw together. If you chop the onion and garlic while the pasta water is heating up you can sit down with a glass of wine and let the pasta cook.
Best of all, a recipe for homemade veggie burgers, made of carrots, black beans, quinoa and rolled oats, can satisfy the burger cravings of carnivores, without that nasty worry about e. coli.
Family Circle Healthy Family Dinners is marred by an over-reliance on convenience items. Cans of stock? At least suggest readers use a quality brand like the organic Imagine, sold in tetra-paks.
And heat and serve brown rice should be avoided – if you start up some short grain brown rice before you start preparing the rest of the meal, it will be ready while your kids still haven’t washed their hands and come to the table.
And the flounder with crab stuffing – my mother used to make this. But she used real lump crabmeat, and you can use cheaper canned crab, not the recommend imitation crab. [Do try this; it’s delish]
But there are so many interesting, healthy recipes – and all under 500 calories a serving –that you will forgive its misgivings. Curried salmon with mint, garam masala lentils, and a rainbow chard/white bean casserole all shine.
I adapted the bulgur-stuffed squash recipe, using vegetarian sausage instead of the suggested Italian sausages, and it was a perfect fall dish.