Revisiting 'Moosewood,' Mollie Katzen finds new ways to squeeze out fats, calories


If you know Mollie Katzen's cookbooks, "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" or "Still Life with Menu," you won't be surprised that the California author did her Berkeley kitchen in periwinkle blue, mango green and pale rose. A "palette of tart pastels," she calls it.

Ms. Katzen's vegetarian recipes ooze color, too. Not to mention flamboyant flavors.

Her revised classic, "Moosewood Cookbook," rolled off the presses this summer. "Fifteen years ago, when I wrote the first 'Moosewood,' my audience was small," Ms. Katzen said. "Vegetarianism was a statement of a lifestyle rather than an eating habit. Now a vegetarian cookbook has universal appeal."

Letter from fans and a national concern about nutrition prompted Ms. Katzen to take on the revamping of "Moosewood." Two years ago, she began retesting every recipe in the first book -- in some cases, lowering oil and butter content, eliminating an egg yolk here and a whole egg there and increasing the flavors.

The following recipes are from the new edition of "Moosewood Cookbook" by Ms. Katzen (Ten Speed Press, $16.95).

Macaroni and cheese lite is an adaptation of an earlier recipe, now containing buttermilk instead of sour cream, and more vegetables and seasoning.

Macaroni and cheese lite Serves 6-8.

tTC Non-stick vegetable spray, or 1 teaspoon shortening

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 cups onion, peeled, ends removed, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled, ends removed, minced

1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned, sliced

4 cups cabbage, shredded

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

10 ounces fresh spinach, washed, dried, stemmed, coarsely chopped; or 10 ounces frozen spinach, cooked according to package directions and well-drained

1/2 pound dry pasta such as fusilli, penne, elbows or 1-inch shells, cooked according to package directions

1 pound cottage cheese

1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh dill, washed, dried, finely minced or 2 teaspoons dried

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Wondra or all-purpose flour

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated, divided

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using vegetable spray or shortening lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Melt the butter in a large deep skillet. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, cabbage, salt and caraway seeds.

Stir, cover and cook until the cabbage is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and remove from heat. Add pasta to mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, buttermilk, dill, black pepper, flour and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Add mixture to pasta mixture. Taste to adjust seasoning and spread in prepared pan.

Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds if desired. Bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven and serve.

Cook's note: Wondra flour is finely milled and will not lump when added to a hot mixture. Look for it in in most grocery baking sections.

Balkan cucumber salad Serves 6.

1/2 cup red onion, peeled, ends removed, thinly sliced

1 cup cold water

1 cup walnuts, shelled, chopped

4 medium cucumbers, peeled, ends removed, cut into thin rounds

1 teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups yogurt

1 or 2 small cloves garlic, peeled, ends removed, minced

1 or 2 teaspoons honey, optional

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, washed, dried, finely minced; or 2 teaspoons dried

1/4 cup parsley, washed, dried, finely minced

2 green onions, washed, ends removed, minced

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh dill, washed, dried, minced; or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Soak the onion in cold water for about 30 minutes. Place walnuts on a shallow sided baking tray and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven, let cool, set aside.

Drain onions thoroughly and pat dry. Place cucumbers in a medium-size bowl. Add onions, salt, black pepper, yogurt, garlic, honey, mint leaves, parsley, green onions and dill. Mix well. Refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, gently stir salad and sprinkle walnuts on top and serve.

Ms. Katzen eliminated butter and cream from her original vegetable chowder recipe and came up with a lighter version.

Vegetable chowder Serves 8.

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 cups onion, peeled, ends removed, chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled, ends removed, minced, divided

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 medium potato, peeled, eyes removed, diced

2 medium stalks celery, washed, ends removed, diced

2 medium carrots, peeled, ends removed, diced

2 cups broccoli, washed, chopped

2 cups cauliflower, washed, chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned, chopped

2 cups frozen corn, defrosted

black pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup Wondra or all-purpose flour

1 quart low-fat milk, heated

minced fresh herbs such as chives or basil or marjoram, optional

In a large kettle or dutch oven, melt butter. Add onion, half th garlic, salt, thyme and basil. Saute over medium heat 5 minutes.

Add potato, celery, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Saute another 5 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, corn and black pepper to taste. Saute another 8 to 10 minutes.

Add water, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until everything is tender.

Sprinkle with Wondra flour or sift all-purpose flour, a small amount at a time, carefully stirring in flour so it will not lump. Simmer for 2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste.

Stir in hot milk, remaining garlic and serve topped with minced herbs.

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