Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Heart of the Plate

Healthy food and delicious food do not have to exist in separate realms. In fact, Mollie Katzen has spent her entire career proving that vegetables are extremely tasty and just as exciting as their meat counterparts. As one of the New York Times' best-selling cookbook authors, Mollie released her newest and 12th book, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation. She spent the evening sharing her story, reminiscing the low fat diets of the 80's and the half-cooked broccoli, meeting Julia Child, and all the while making the audience laugh throughout.

Mollie's fascination with vegetables started at an early age with her Kosher upbringing. However, she eschews the "vegetarian" title as she believes such labels shifts the attention away from the food itself. Vegetables aren't just for vegetarians and she hopes to share her love and inspire others to get creative with plant foods.

The 464-pages hardcover boasts expansive repertoire of recipes spanning salads, soups, mashes, grains, noodles, burgers, sauces and desserts that is pure celebration of the all mighty vegetable world. She inverts the carb ratio of the pastas so instead of garnishing with butternut squash, her dishes put the spotlight on the key vegetable ingredients. Her book is filled with colorful photography and adorned with her personal sketches and doodles, the crowning signature of her cookbooks that started with her very first back in the 70's.

In the almost 40 years since publishing the Moosewood Cookbook, Mollie's cooking has evolved as well. Her younger self would have been proud to produce one dish with 3,000 ingredients that includes everything in the kitchen. Now, she values a collaboration on a plate that includes smaller dishes that are mashed, grilled, tossed, baked, and sprinkled with toasted nuts: a bento box of different flavors and textures. She is much more in tune with the seasoning, understanding how to add just the right amount of salt and appreciating the purity of her ingredients.

She shares that one of her favorite culinary moments is enjoying a perfectly ripe tomato, an experience that is simply poetry. The recipe is deceivingly simple: Let the tomato sit on a plate until room temperature. Cut and eat. Use bread to sop up the juices. Mollie is breaking down the food divide and showing us just how beautifully artistic and sensuously delicious vegetables can be.

Recipes from her newest cookbook is available on her website. The Heart of the Plate is available from Amazon and major bookstores.

No comments: