The All-New Vegetarian Passport
Cover photo by Michelle Furbacher, from the The All-New Vegetarian Passport (Whitecap Books)
Recently, I had the great luck to meet Linda Woolven, author of The All-New Vegetarian Passport, (not to be confused with her previous cookbook, The Vegetarian Passport). I was keen to read her book, but had a few reservations as well. Her new cookbook is so filled with information on nutrition, disease prevention, and overall wellness, I felt quite sure something had to give. All this healthy vegetarian food seemed something I really ought to eat in an effort to keep my New Year’s resolution. I didn’t expect to actually like the food as much as I expected to feel annoyingly virtuous. Annoying to other people, I mean.
The minute Linda came into the room I knew I was wrong. Bright, happy, and lively, this woman was too full of joy to want to condemn people to a miserly diet of bean sprouts and plain tofu.
Linda’s 350 new recipes were collected from her travels across the world, and they record her delight in travel and food. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that she charmed perfect strangers into sharing their recipes with her. Not that she needed to. Have you have heard of photographic memory? She has perfect taste recall. I can scarcely imagine such a thing. She can call up any memory of tasting a dish and experience it again. What I would do with THAT gift. I’d constantly be tasting chocolate mousse and pistachio gelato and never gaining an ounce.
So while I wasn’t surprised that the recipes she found are very good indeed, I did wonder if it mightn’t be a little bit tricky travelling the world as a vegetarian. I’ve done it, years ago, and while one can often find a vegetarian option, in many cultures it’s often a forced sort of affair, a tacked-on menu items that is a grudging concession by a reluctant cook forced to tinker with tradition. Certainly in Italy there are many dishes that feature beans and vegetables but have some bit of pork in them, whether in the base or flecked throughout. And I defy you to tell an Italian you’re about pick apart the lovely food he’s so proudly made you. Shudder to think what might happen to your next course in the kitchen.
Linda came home from her travels with an astonishing array of vegetarian dishes. Some are adapted, some are kept in their original form with optional ingredients, and some are entirely her own concoction. All play with the customary flavours of the region that inspired them, and all I’ve tried so far are quite good. The book is divided in North Africa and the Middle East, Europe, India, Asia, Latin American and the Carribean, North America, and Desserts and Beverages, a mish-mash of all of the above.
The health aspect of the book intrigued me, too. Linda very firmly believes that a vegetarian diet, with its emphasis on vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, is the healthiest way to live. And of course she’s right. One doesn’t need a degree in nutrition to know that more of all of these foods ought to be in everybody’s diets. But what’s a girl to do when married to a meat lover? Foods that are meant to be good for him often end up untouched beside his steak.
Linda solves this dilemma by going the traditional route. By using foods that are often found in the same dish, the flavours naturally complement each other. The tomato, bean and artichoke dish we made was gorgeous and did not taste like “health food” at all. If I’m trying to eat meat less often, or in smaller portions, this is a lovely thing to serve alongside. And I feel confident that if I were to make this as a main dish, any vegetarian guest would feel she has been celebrated rather than accommodated.
Photo by Michelle Furbacher, from the The All-New Vegetarian Passport (Whitecap Books)
Moroccan Black Bean Casserole
Excerpt from The All-New Vegetarian Passport by Linda Woolven (Whitecap Books).
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup (250 mL) dried red lentils, washed
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 medium-size cooking onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes, with juice
1 ½ cups (375 mL) button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup pickled artichokes, quartered
1/3 cup (80 mL) first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil
sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Place everything in a clay overproof dish that holds at least 12 cups (3L). Add enough water to cover the ingredients by 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm). You will need about 5 cups (1.25 L) of water. Cover and bake for about 3 hours and 15 minutes until everything is tender.
One last comment: While you do need to be home for this, it fills the air with a lovely scent while it cooks. Dinner and potpourri all in one. If you don’t happen to have 3 hours to hang about while your food cooks, you could put it in a slow cooker on low, but I find they often go to an overly high heat at the end and erode the flavours by boiling them away.
The All-New Vegetarian Passport
- 350 original recipes from all over the world
- A complete natural health book.
- Sections on how to eat healthy: super foods like kale, chard, arugula, blueberries, quinoa, essential fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, raw foods, and foods to avoid.
- Sections on what to eat and not eat to treat and prevent the most common health conditions: everything from cancer to heart health, memory loss, celiac disease, candida, arthritis, MS, and gout.
- Recipes are coded with icons that indicate suitability of the recipe for specific health conditions
- Time charts and tips on how to cook bean and grains
- Easy to prepare dishes with accurate cooking times
- Travel stories and introductions to each geographical region
- Features: sides, starters, salads, soups, stews, mains, vegetarian barbeque, desserts, smoothies, teas, juices
Linda Woolven is a Master Herbalist, Registered Acupuncturist and Solution-Focused Counselor.
Linda is one of Canada’s leading authors on natural health. She has written several books on vitamins, nutrition and herbs in addition to her two cookbooks. Linda is the author of The All-New Vegetarian Passport, The Vegetarian Passport Cookbook and Smart Woman’s Guide to PMS and Pain-free Periods. Linda is the co-author of Healthy Herbs: Your Everyday Guide to Medicinal Herbs and Their Use, and The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia and Sex & Fertility: Natural Solutions. Linda is also the co-author of The Natural Path newsletter. Her columns have appeared in several newspapers and magazines, including the Toronto Star.