Karen Page’s book, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, is a comprehensive guide to plant-based flavor pairings for a wide range of foods including vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. By using the information provided by this book, cooks can become chefs as they come up with new dishes and maximize flavor without resorting to butter and other animal ingredients. This resource will be especially valuable to readers who are considering the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet and don’t know where to begin.

The book is divided into 3 chapters: a history of vegetarianism, the trend toward compassionate cuisine, and lists of foods for flavor matching. Did you know that in Plato’s Republic (375 BC), Socrates asserts that the ideal city would be vegetarian because eating meat leads to decadence and war? Or that Flavor= Taste + Mouthfeel+ Aroma+ “The X factor” ? A whole section is devoted to satisfying cravings without meat, for example how about a tantalizing substitute for crab dip made from white bean dip plus dill, kelp, lemon, and Old Bay seasoning? These are just some of the things that the first couple of chapters present to wet your appetite for the feast that is to come in the next chapter.

The 3rd chapter is the heart of the book and contains extensive lists from A (Acai, a berry like fruit used in smoothies) to Z (Zucchini blossoms) and includes seasons, extensive number plant based ingredients, world cuisines, and flavorings and seasonings such as salts, peppers, herbs, spices, oils, and vinegars. The entries for each food provide information on its essence, key aspects, season, flavor, volume, nutritional profile, recommended cooking techniques, possible substitutes, food pairings and flavor affinities. No matter what food you have sitting in your refrigerator or pick up at the grocery store, these extensive lists will give you ideas on how to create a tasty dish.

In addition to giving the readers everything they need to fashion mouth watering food, the book includes color coding indicating the foods most valuable to the diet. No surprise to find kale with the highest rating! Insets provide information on subjects ranging from health benefits of the vegetarian diets to recommendations of restaurant dishes. The vegetarian tasting menus from outstanding vegetable- centric restaurants are also provided. But keep in mind; there are NO recipes contained in the book, but you don’t need recipes if you master the art of reading the lists in this book. Although there is no part of the book called “Index” the alphabetized lists in chapter 3 serve the same function. Once you start using the The Vegetarian Flavor Bible you will wonder how you ever did without it.

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