Do you love to feed your family healthy meals? Are you always looking for new ideas? Are you tired of the same old meals day after day? Then I have a cookbook that you are going to adore … Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin is the answer to your kitchen conundrums!
Some of my food writer friends went to an event that Michael hosted in San Francisco during his cross-country book tour. I wasn’t able to join them that night, but heard wonderful things about the evening and the incredible food that Michael prepared for them. My good friends at The Harvard Common Press, the publishers of Michael’s book, sent me a review copy and I was thrilled when it arrived. It lived up to all the hype and I eagerly dove into it, looking for recipes I wanted to try.
There are recipes for soups, salads, main courses, side dishes, breakfast favorites and desserts. The majority of the book focuses on creative and unusual ways to incorporate vegetables in your diet, and Michael presents them in a delightful and engaging manner. The accompanying photographs, which Michael took himself, draw you in, making each dish easy to envision on your own dinner table. The simplicity of the settings allows the natural beauty of the ingredients to shine.
One thing that I really appreciate about this book is the attention given to those with dietary restrictions. In addition to servings and preparation times, it also indicates when a recipe has vegan or gluten-free options included. The index is also extremely easy to use, calling out the special diet options in their own categories. This makes finding gluten-free recipes exceptionally easy. Thank you Michael for spending the extra time and energy to provide this information!
The flavor profiles in the book span the globe, highlighting the best of a multitude of world cuisines. You can easily create an Indian meal, a Vietnamese feast, a Thai celebration, or a South American fiesta. He has included several menu-planning guides to help you create a fun and creative dinner party. It would be easy to send out recipes to different friends, have them each bring their dish and host an international banquet.
With 150 original vegetarian recipes, there are plenty to choose from. I immediately came up with a list of at least a dozen that were all screaming my name including Spicy Corn and Potato Stew, Persian Rice Pilaf with a Crispy Crust, Bocoles with Spicy Sweet Potatoes, and Crispy Polenta Cakes with White Beans and Morels. But ultimately one bubbled to the top of the list, a delicious and easy recipe that I can use for weekend breakfasts with my husband, when we have company staying over, and during the craziness of the holidays.
Today’s recipe is Real Home Fries, the breakfast side dish that we all wish restaurants served. I had a bunch of potatoes that needed to be eaten, so I made two skillets of these home fries. Full of satisfying potatoes spiced up with chopped chile peppers and onions, this is the perfect accompaniment to a serving of eggs, which Michael suggested. He definitely has good taste!
This was a filling and satisfying meal that will please even the most ardent comfort food fans. The addition of chopped chiles and a bell pepper I had on hand added a lot of flavor without much heat. If your family is extremely sensitive, leave them out, but if you crave spicy foods, use a hotter pepper such as jalapeno, serrano, aleppo, or bird’s eye. I will combine the leftovers from tonight with some Lonza pork I have for another spin on the recipe tomorrow. The Artist is excited about our upcoming meal and is already planning which wine he wants to serve with it!
I am not a vegetarian but I appreciate cookbooks with that focus because I can always use the recipes for side dishes, as a healthy alternative to heavier comfort food meals, and to appease The Artist’s love of anything vegetarian! Herbivoracious will soon have splattered and dog-eared pages and is sure to become one of my most treasured cookbooks.
Make sure you stop by Michael’s blog, Herbivoracious to keep current on all his recipes and activities. He is planning on opening a restaurant and you’ll be the first to know the details!
I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and head straight to the farmer’s market. Buy whatever fruits and vegetables are freshest and most appealing, then turn to the book for ways to turn them into a meal your family will beg you to make over and over!
- 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 1/2 white onion, finely diced
- 1 fresh chile de arbol or other chile pepper (optional), seeded and thinly sliced
- 1-1/2 lb potatoes (any kind), skin on, finely diced
- 1 tsp kosher salt, plus additional as needed
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat your biggest skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. You want a really big pan to maximize surface area. Add the oil, onion, and the chile, if using, and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add the potatoes and kosher salt, and stir to coat with the oil. Distribute into a single layer, or as close tot hat as possible. Every 3 minutes or so, flip the potatoes and onion with a spatula, trying as much as possible to get uncooked surfaces onto the skillet and of course maintaining the single layer. Cook until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes total.
- Taste and salt as needed. Serve immediately, while hot and crispy, topped with a few flakes of sea salt for texture and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Yield: 2 to 4 servings
- Vegan and Gluten-Free
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