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Pssst! You won't believe this delicious hoagie is meatless.
There's a picture in the introduction of The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook of author Kim O'Donnel

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You Won't Even Miss the Bone With The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook

meatlovers_meatless_cookbook.jpg
Pssst! You won't believe this delicious hoagie is meatless.
There's a picture in the introduction of The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook of author Kim O'Donnel as a toddler. She's grinning from ear-to-ear and clutching the bone from a T-bone steak. This is a woman who appreciates meat, confirming my long-held belief that the best vegetarian cookbooks are those written by meat-eaters.

O'Donnel, a Seattle resident, knows that meat consumption can be detrimental to your health. Her own father died from a heart attack at a young age. But she also knows that if meatless dishes aren't appetizing, meat-lovers won't eat them. The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook is full of recipes for hearty and flavorful meals that give you the satisfying texture and complex layers of flavors that are missing from many vegetarian dishes that just omit the meat.

This book includes recipes for meatless versions of some of the most obscenely carnivorous dishes we love: Cassoulet, Hoagies, Chili, Lasagna, Burgers, and Shepherd's Pie all get the O'Donnel treatment of dialing down saturated fat, while pumping up texture and flavor. In the Shepherd's Pie recipe for example, the filling is a combination of sauteed chard and wine-braised lentils rather than ground meat. It is then topped with mashed potatoes, like the traditional version of Shepherd's Pie. Lentils aren't ground meat, but cover them in a thick layer of creamy mashed potatoes, and you'll pretty much forget that fact.

The chapters of The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook are organized by seasons. Flip open the chapter for fall and you'll find recipes for twice-baked sweet potatoes, pear & arugula salad and braised squash. Just the foods we are craving as the days get shorter and the temperates begin to drop. This book also includes helpful suggestions for year-round dishes in a chapter titled, "Wild Cards, Menus for all Seasons."

Sprinkled throughout the book are tips to "make it a meal," that guide readers to other recipes that make good accompaniments. Instead of "directions," Kim writes, "Here's what you do." This convivial tone makes it feel like Kim is in the kitchen with you, sharing her favorite tips and tricks. The final chapter of the book is "Kitchen Tricks for Your Sleeve," which are all-purpose flavor enhancers such as caramelized onions, compound butter and a simple marinara sauce; flavors so good you won't even miss the bacon.

In addition to hearty dishes, there are also lighter ones like Chickpea "Crab" Cakes, Mushroom Ragout, Ratatouille and several curries. In the introduction, Kim introduces you to some of her pantry staples for meatless cooking: Smoked paprika, shallots, coriander, and sesame oil are members of her arsenal of spices and seasonings that can trick just about any carnivore into devouring a meatless dish.

The Meatless Monday campaign started by Johns Hopkins' University in 2003 fueled O'Donnel's curiosity about meatless cooking, as did her desire to stay healthy and manage her cholesterol and weight. The campaign in the U.S. is a simple way for Americans to reduce their consumption of saturated fat. For O'Donnel however, the real inspiration came from the impact our country's meat consumption was having on the planet.

UN panels on climate change and agriculture both reported that if meat eaters gave up meat for just one day a week, they could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a nutshell, it's one thing average citizens can do to help the planet. Recycling and driving hybrids help, but one meatless day a week has a significant enough impact that it cannot be ignored. And armed with recipes from The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook, you may even enjoy it.

Check back for part two of this week's Cooking the Books and a recipe from The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook.

Kim O'Donnel with be signing her book November 10 at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park at 7pm, and at University Book Store November 15 at 7pm. Information about other events around Seattle, including cooking demos can be found at kimodonnel.com.

 
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