Mark Bittman’s book, Dinner for Everyone, present a novel approach to everyday cooking. Bittman presents 100 classic main dishes from all over the world and includes such favorites as gumbo, coq au vin, and Korean BBQ. Each iconic dish has three versions: easy, vegan, and special occasion/company, for a total of 300 recipes. The easy recipes are designed to take 30 minutes or less to prepare and require a minimum of clean up so are recommended for busy weekday meals. The vegan options feature healthy ingredients while attempting to capture the flavor essence and satisfying elements of the original, and the company versions are for the pleasure of cooking and sharing a fantastic meal.

The entry for each classical dish is presented with a large photograph of one of the three completed recipes. Each recipe includes information about number of serving, time needed for preparation, ingredient list, and step by step instructions. The directions are clear and concise and the scope of the dishes wide, including even a presentation of three versions of Thanksgiving dinner.

Some of the entries do not quite fit the frame of the book. For example, dishes such as tacos, chili, and stir-fry are already weeknight favorites because of their easy preparation and although the vegan version may be new to many people, it is hard to imagine that anyone would want to make a big effort to make the company option for them. Sometimes the difference between versions seem forced, for example, the easy and company version of gnocchi vary most significantly in different sauces and the use of a potato that must be baked in the latter. Both recipes call for making dumplings and the sauce in the company version is more expensive. The entry for vegetable soup, on the other hand, includes an easy recipe for Senegalese peanut soup, vegan recipe for minestrone, and a company recipe for borscht. They don’t have a single significant ingredient in common so the results are very different and share only the fact that they are plant-based soups.

Even if some of the recipe versions need to be viewed with a stretch of the imagination, they look delicious and are well worth trying. Bittman has updated the classics and developed creative vegan versions all with attention to availability of ingredients, time constraints, and interest level of would be cooks. With its very unique presentation of time honored dishes, Dinner for Everyone is a welcome addition to the culinary library.

To buy Dinner for Everyone from Amazon, click here.