An array of dishes for those with vegetarian tastes; Cookbook: "Professional Vegetarian Cooking" by chef Ken Bergeron offers more than 200 recipes containing no animal products.


Ken Bergeron doesn't like to get his cookbooks dirty. He has a respect that borders on reverence for the printed pages and photographs in a cooking guide.

"I never cook from cookbooks," says the chef as he prepares India-Style Flatbread from a computer printout taped to a cabinet door in his tidy kitchen.

But he's hoping restaurant chefs and home cooks alike will turn his book, "Professional Vegetarian Cooking" (John Wiley, $44.95), into a dog-eared, food-spattered necessity in their kitchens. Bergeron, who lives outside Hartford, Conn., spent three years writing and testing the 200-plus recipes for his book.

Because the recipes contain no animal products, including dairy and eggs (Bergeron has been a vegan for about 15 years), he added a chapter on ingredients, both common and uncommon. Foods such as miso, tempeh, soy milk and alternative sweeteners such as barley malt syrup and date sugar are available in natural-foods stores but may be unfamiliar to cooks who haven't chosen the vegan route.

Bergeron finds that most restaurant chefs today are "more sophisticated in general" about vegetarian cooking, but "there is still a need for a book like mine that gives them new ideas for items they can put on the menu."

"There seems to be a demand" for dairy-free and egg-free dishes, he says. "What chefs have said to me is, 'We know how to cook eggs and cheese. We need ideas for vegetable-based dishes.' "

Many restaurant kitchens have a head chef and chefs in training, and the book "had to be understandable to them all," he says.

For that reason, Bergeron says the word professional in the title shouldn't frighten off home cooks. "It's good for culinary students, but it's also useful for the home cook as a valuable reference and recipe guide," he says.

In some respects, restaurant chefs experience some of the same constraints as home cooks. "I realized that there were some similarities, like having a certain amount of time to cook and meeting deadlines," he says. "Home cooks don't want extra work, just like restaurant chefs."

Most recipes yield about 10 servings, which may seem like a lot for a home cook. "A soup recipe makes 10 one-cup servings as a first course or one to two cups for a main course," says Bergeron, who is now editing a cookbook for the North America Vegetarian Society. "So if a family of four eats six cups for a meal, that's four cups left over that can either go into the freezer or become lunch the next day."

As the former owner of a vegetarian restaurant and now a consultant, Bergeron has seen all kinds of vegetarians. There are vegans; others who eat no meat but have not given up dairy products or eggs; and macrobiotic followers who may or may not be completely vegan, he says.

Probably the newest wrinkle in the vegetarian category is raw foods. "That's another challenge," he says of the plan that eschews anything processed or cooked. "Originally our ancestors didn't eat cooked foods, although as a chef who cooks, that's kind of scary."

Vegetable-Walnut and Pecan Pate

Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup each: medium diced onions, medium diced carrots, medium diced celery

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger root

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup diced scallions

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon each: soy sauce, Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon salt and pinch of ground black pepper

8 to 10 drops liquid smoke, hickory flavor

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy margarine

2/3 cup each: toasted walnuts, toasted pecans (see note)

1/4 cup vegetable stock

Saute the onions, carrots and celery in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and scallions and saute for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the remaining ingredients except stock to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.

Place sauteed ingredients in a food processor. Deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock and pour into the food processor. Process the mixture to a smooth pate. Chill before serving.

Note: To toast the nuts, put in one layer on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir and check after 3 minutes to keep nuts from burning at the edges.

-- From "Professional Vegetarian Cooking"

White Balsamic Miso Vinaigrette

Makes 1 cup

2 teaspoons spicy brown prepared mustard

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons white miso

pinch ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons apple juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or fresh parsley

Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, miso and pepper. Whisk in olive oil, then the apple juice and tarragon.

-- From "Professional Vegetarian Cooking"

Bow-Tie Pasta Salad

Serves 10

1 pound bow-tie pasta, uncooked

2 cups sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup boiling water

salt for pasta, optional

1/2 teaspoon garlic, crushed

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 cup marinated artichoke hearts

3/4 cup marinade from artichokes

2 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup sliced green olives

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fresh anise (fennel)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Chop sun-dried tomatoes and put them in a small bowl and add the 1 cup boiling water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside to soften. Add the pasta to the boiling water and salt, if desired.

Combine remaining ingredients.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and cool under running water. Drain well, then mix with the remaining ingredients, including the softened tomatoes and any liquid not absorbed by them. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

-- From "Professional Vegetarian Cooking"

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