August 11, 2012

I am sure you have tons of cookbooks lining the shelves in your kitchen, but are any of them written by a former Beatle?

The Meat Free Monday Cookbook, partially written by Sir Paul McCartney, was released in the US earlier this year to support the campaign to decrease harm to the environment by making more sustainable food choices.

If you are a big Beatles fan or a vegetarian looking for gourmet cooking ideas, it’s an interesting book to have around and there’s certainly enough variation and content that you can always find something appetizing.

Meat Free Mondays Campaign

The premise of McCartney’s book and campaign, called Meat Free Monday, is cutting out meat one day each week. The larger campaign “Meatless Monday” has been endorsed by many other famous names such as Oprah and James Cameron, as well as magazine groups and cooking channels.

McCartney writes in the forword that he started campaigning for this shift in 2009 after reading a report from the United Nations called Livestock’s Long Shadow, which claimed meat production was responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gases. Co-authors Mary and Stella McCartney are both daughters of Linda Eastman McCartney, who was a vegetarian author herself. The book is dedicated to her memory.

Cookbook Review

Overall the book has some great attributes. There is a menu for each Monday of the year, which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, side, dessert, and packed lunch.  That means a grand total of 312 recipes.

The book runs the gamut of international cuisine and pulls recipe contributions from Paul, Stella, almost 40 chefs, and a few notable vegetarian celebrities such as Pamela Anderson, Woody Harrelson, Twiggy, and Kevin Spacey.

Some standout recipes include hearty soups, fresh salads, and baked dishes such as tarts, quiches, and casseroles. Celebrity chefs offer great meat-free variations of international dishes such as paella and croque-madame.

It’s organized by seasons, which is convenient because – really – who wants to eat hot soup in the summer? Also, the recipes use in-season ingredients so you will always be able to find the featured fruits and vegetables. The colder seasons tend to include hearty, warming dishes, while the summer months offer a variety of light sandwiches and salads.

Here is an example menu selection from week two of the Winter section:

Breakfast: English Breakfast Muffins

Packed Lunch: Curried Egg, Almond, and Brown Rice Stir Fry

Lunch: Beet, Red Onion, and Endive Salad

Side: Roasted Acorn Squash

Dinner: Leek and Ricotta Tart

Dessert: Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake

The lunches tend to be quick-makes while the dinners are more in-depth and require more time and ingredients.

The book also includes a packed lunch section, which is great for bringing something other than leftover lasagna and soggy sandwiches to work every day.

The recipes don’t rely on soy products as their main source of protein. However, most dishes do include a fair amount of protein from vegetables, beans, and nuts. After all, it’s a myth that all vegetarians enjoy tofu.

Some other things to note are the recipes are all converted to US measurements, which could be a concern to anyone who doesn’t own a kitchen scale.

The photography was very visually pleasing, although with designer Stella McCartney and photographer Mary McCartney as a co-authors, would you expect any less?

Complaints about the book were few. Some ingredients are hard to find such as raspberry molasses. Many main course recipes don’t use similar ingredients; meaning you have to go out and buy rather expensive ingredients for certain recipes that you may not use again.

Who Would Enjoy It

This is definitely not a gluten-free, vegan, or diet cookbook. Many of the recipes do use wheat products, butter, cheese, and eggs.

It’s a great purchase for someone who enjoys cooking vegetarian gourmet food. It would also make a great gift for friends or family interested in sustainability, eating less meat, or anyone who listens to The White Album on repeat.

Preview some free recipes here: http://www.meatfreemondays.com/recipes/

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