Simply Vegetarian Cookbook: Fuss-Free Recipes Everyone Will Love, written by Susan Pridmore, features a variety of everyday vegetarian recipes arranged for easy planning whether you need a meal with only a handful of ingredients, something than can be prepared in less than 30 minutes, no-cook ideas, or want to use the slow cooker/pressure cooker. Highlights include Mexican Street Corn Salad, Loaded Sweet Potato Nacho Fries, Grilled Fontina Sandwiches with Red Peppers, Chickpea Bolognese, Swiss Chard and Orzo Gratin, Barbecue Lentil Sloppy Joes, and a few of kitchen staples for additional flavor. I will also be sharing her recipe for French Onion Toasts following the review.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book from Rockridge Press in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Susan Pridmore left a career in business to pursue her love of cooking. She went to culinary school in San Francisco and became a mostly vegetarian while her husband remained mostly a carnivore. She created her blog, The Wimpy Vegetarian, in 2011 to combine her passion for cooking, writing, and photography. This is her first cookbook.
Chapters are divided according to cooking method: Meatless Made Easy, No Cook, Thirty Minutes Max, Five Ingredients, One Pot & Skillet, Sheet Pan & Baking Dish, Slow Cooker & Pressure Cooker, and Kitchen Staples.
Susan begins with a complete guide and helpful tips for the kitchen from storing and preparing favorite vegetables and herbs to using lentils, getting enough protein and omega-3 fatty acids with a vegetarian/vegan diet, and even a chart featuring easy substitutions of carbs to vegetables. In case you don’t have a slow cooker available, she has also included instructions for converting the slow cooker recipes to the stovetop. You will even learn how to cook quinoa, squash, crispy tofu, and cauliflower rice perfectly.
The instructions are easy to follow, but there are only a handful of photos- one at the beginning of each chapter. Measurements are listed in US customary, but a measurements and conversions chart is provided towards the back of the book. Each recipe includes a headnote with serving size, prep time, nutritional information and a label if it is also gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and/or vegan.
This book is a great pick for those who are vegetarian or just want to include a few meatless recipes in the weekly menu planning. Every recipe in the book is vegetarian, but variations are often added for those who desire fish, poultry, or meat. Most of the ingredients are readily available year-round in the average grocery store. A few that may require further searching include edamame, chia seeds, Cotija cheese, chickpeas, yellow raisins, nutritional yeast, miso, tahini, and panko.
French Onion Toasts
I love all things caramelized onion (see Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Spinach, French Onion Dip, and French Onion Potstickers) and these French Onion Toasts definitely didn’t disappoint.
Two pounds of yellow onions are slowly caramelized with a little dried thyme and salt until deep golden brown. They are then simmered with a splash of dry sherry and Better than Bouillon no Beef Base or vegetable broth. The resulting caramelized mixture is piled over toasted slices of ciabatta bread and topped with grated Gruyère cheese before serving.
The onions will take up to 45 minutes to caramelize, but don’t try to rush it. Keep an eye on them and adjust the heat lower if needed to keep the onions from burning.
If Gruyère is unavailable, you can substitute with Emmentaler or Jarlsberg. Susan also mentions that the onions can be prepared in the slow cooker on low over 6-7 hours, but they won’t be as deeply caramelized and require stirring for the last few minutes to help them evenly cook.
I also made the Gazpacho, Portabella Eggs Florentine, Caprese Avocado Grilled Pitas, and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta.
The Gazpacho is a delicious no-cook recipe perfect for those end of summer ripened tomatoes. Slices of bread soaked in water are used to add body to the soup made with a combination of pureed tomatoes, onion, cucumber, red bell pepper, and garlic. The mixture is flavored simply with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a little salt. It is best chilled for at least 4 hours to allow the flavors to develop and form a refreshing, light soup.
For the Portabella Eggs Florentine, Portabella mushrooms are roasted and filled with a seasoned spinach mixture. Each one is topped with an egg and the mushrooms continue to roast just until the eggs are set, but the yolks are still runny. It is definitely my new go-to for breakfast or lunch when I have extra portabellas.
The Caprese Avocado Grilled Pitas come together quickly for an easy lunch and hold all of my favorite flavors. The inside of each pita half is filled with pesto and slices of tomato, avocado, and fresh mozzarella. The pita pockets are then grilled until heated through and the cheese is melty. If you have someone in the family who would like meat, Susan mentions adding some crisp bacon to the sandwiches.
The Roasted Red Pepper Pasta was another quick and easy meal. Fusilli pasta is tossed with a roasted red pepper garlic sauce and topped with a little Parmesan cheese. This one was a favorite with the kids.
French Onion Toasts Recipe
Excerpt from Simply Vegetarian Cookbook
French Onion Toasts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds yellow onions thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup Better than Bouillon no Beef Base or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- 4 slices crusty bread such as ciabatta
- 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add in the onion slices, thyme, and salt. Use tongs to toss and coat the onions with the oil. Evenly spread the onions across the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 45 minutes, moving the onions only every 10 to 15 minutes in the beginning and then every few minutes over the last 10 minutes. To caramelize, the onions need direct contact with the hot skillet, but left too long, they’ll burn. Use a metal spatula during the final 15 minutes to assist in moving and tossing the onions.
Add the broth and sherry to the skillet and scrape up any cooked onion bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Toast the bread, then place each slice in a shallow bowl. Ladle the onions and a little broth over the bread and top with cheese.