New & NowWeeknight Cooking

Is Amanda and Merrill's New Book Vegetarian-Friendly?

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We gave a lucky handful of community members a sneak peak of Amanda and Merrill’s new cookbook, A New Way to Dinner, and we’ll be featuring one of their reviews every day this week in celebration of the book's release—we'll see how their dinner game changed when they followed the plans for the book.

A New Way to Dinner could not have arrived at a better time. I had lost my kitchen inspiration about two weeks earlier, was relying on the old standbys a little too heavily, and needed a shot in the apron. This book delivered.

[OLD, DO NOT ACTIVATE] Signed Copy: A New Way to Dinner, by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
[OLD, DO NOT ACTIVATE] Signed Copy: A New Way to Dinner, by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

I dove into Amanda’s fall menu with Lamb Blade Chops with Green Sauce, making some modifications for my vegetarian husband. That green sauce rocked his world when I slathered it on grilled slabs of firm tofu. The Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Sage, Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Pine Nuts was so great for dinner, I had the leftovers for breakfast. And it was good to be reminded how simple gnocchi is to make and how satisfying. We loved the stuck pot rice and the creamed kale and I’ve already been asked to make both again, especially with the fried egg topper.

It’s been a particularly demanding few weeks so the chance to let Amanda and Merrill create my shopping list was fantastic. I liked it so much, I did it for a second week, letting Merrill’s fall menu lead the way. Baked Pasta with Sausage Ragu was easily tweaked, swapping mushrooms for sausage, to satisfy my vegetarian. The Roasted Zucchini with Chile and Mint was out of this world. I’ll be making that again and again.

While I was tempted to try the desserts, I studiously avoided them; after all, it’s the official run-up to cookie season. They all looked delicious and if I had kids, I’m sure they would have been part of the week instead of a wistful moment of cookbook reading.

So many recipes throughout the book caught my eye and I’ve been dipping in here and there (Hello, Chicken Salad with Fennel and Smoked Almonds. I’m looking at you, Chicken Cutlets with Charmoula and Preserved Lemon), proving once again that a well-stocked pantry makes this book even more useful. Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup makes the most of the last of the season tomatoes, a good friend to My Mom’s Grilled Cheese with (or without) Bacon.

Perhaps the best and most useful way this book influenced my kitchen life is in the way Amanda and Merrill helped me see leftovers in a new light. Admittedly, leftovers died in the corners of my refrigerator before this experiment and now I see the opportunities in them. And as soon as my self-imposed dessert ban is lifted, I’m digging into that Schlumpf.

Tags: Community, Books, Cookbook Club