Book review: The Vegetarian Silver Spoon

26 March 2020 by
Book review: The Vegetarian Silver Spoon

Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise in the UK. According to the shopping comparison website, 12 million people claim they will be vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian by 2021. The Vegan Society says that the number of vegans quadrupled between 2014 and 2019, with 1.16% of the population (about 600,000) now living a vegan lifestyle. That's a lot of potential customers on the look-out for something delicious and a bit more inventive than the ubiquitous mushroom risotto.

With 200 Italian vegetarian recipes, many also dairy-free, gluten-free or vegan (symbols identify into which category or categories each recipe fits, with lists for each category in the back of the book, making them quick and easy to find), The Vegetarian Silver Spoon is a godsend for chefs looking to expand their plant-based repertoire.

The book draws on the archives of The Silver Spoon, Italy's bestselling cookbook, first published in 1950, and also includes 150 new recipes developed by the Silver Spoon kitchen team.

Divided into eight chapters, the book is a comprehensive survey of traditional and contemporary Italian vegetarian and vegan cooking, covering snacks and small plates; breads and pizzas; salads and sides; soups and stews; pasta, dumplings and crêpes; vegetable tarts and pastries; grains, gratins and stuffed vegetables; and desserts.

There's a homely feel to many of the recipes, such as chard and chickpea soup with tofu; buckwheat lasagne with broccoli, and eggplant-tomato strudel, which might find a more natural home on the menus of vegetarian and vegan cafés rather than in fine dining restaurants.

However, lesser-known ingredients, such as black chickpeas (used in a salad with apple and Jerusalem artichoke), millet (paired with beets and Romanesco), and Kamut flour (derived from Iranian red Khorasan wheat, which is high in protein, vitamins and minerals and used in a calzone with asparagus and egg) will invigorate any chef's interest in meat- and fish-free cooking, making The Vegetarian Silver Spoon a valuable addition to their cookbook collection.

The Vegetarian Silver Spoon, Phaidon, £35

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