(Note: This week’s review is co-written by Inklings Bookshop staffers Adam Jones and Emily Ring. It begins with Jones.)
I was at the American Booksellers Association’s winter conference and trade show in Seattle this year when I fell in love.
This is where I first saw Erin Gleeson’s cookbook “The Forest Feast,” or really just a few pages of it in preview at a rep’s lunch. It was one image that captured me, a loaf of focaccia studded with grapes and cherry tomatoes, bright, fresh and tempting; both wholly new and familiarly comforting.
When the book finally was released this spring, the finished product was even more pleasing than the preview had suggested, each recipe more colorful and fresh-from-the-garden than the last. What I have made out of it so far has been easy and successful, including the guacamole deviled eggs I brought to Easter brunch this year, which were gone in a snap.
What’s been more important to me is that this book really changes the way you look at your food. Its focus on fresh, vegetarian fare has inspired me to rethink my cooking — everything from the humble salad to cocktails can be updated and made a little more healthy without sacrificing taste or presentation.
It’s been beyond popular here in the store, with the majority of us enamored by its simple, creative ideas. It’s been so popular, in fact, that two of us wanted to review it!
Here’s Emily’s take:
Over the past year or so, I’ve been making a concerted effort to incorporate more vegetables into my diet. Obviously, vegetables are important, or “Eat your vegetables!” wouldn’t be so ingrained in our collective consciousness. But my problem with them has always been that I get bored easily, and vegetables can be kind of boring.
My solution to veggie burnout: the exciting, visually and gustatorily appealing recipes in “The Forest Feast.” In this beautifully arranged and photographed cookbook, Erin Gleeson presents interesting and delicious combinations of fruits and vegetables in simple preparations that even a novice chef can attempt without fear.
I’ve tried a number of the recipes and found that most of the ingredients are things that I have in my kitchen already or can pick up fresh at the farmers’ market. And without fail, the results have been delicious. Her recipe for polenta-stuffed Portobello mushrooms has become my go-to when I want a simple but elegant meatless meal. In short, if you’re looking for ways to make your diet healthier and more exciting, this cookbook is for you.
• “The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods” by Erin Gleeson was published in April by Stewart, Tabori and Chang.
• Inklings Bookshop staffers review books in this space each week.