It’s been 40 years since Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook took the revolutionary ideas of a natural food eatery and put vegetarian cooking on America’s dinner plate, and this week, Ithaca’s Moosewood restaurant celebrates the release of an all-new cookbook.
The Moosewood Restaurant Table hits bookshelves and kitchens this week, and the Downtown Ithaca restaurant has a tasting and book-signing event scheduled for 12-4pm on Saturday, September 30th. They’ll also be at the final Thursday night market of the season for Ithaca Farmers Market, with a tasting and signing from 6-7pm tonight.
The restaurant itself has never been vegan, and hasn’t even been vegetarian in a while, but “The Moosewood Collective,” the nineteen women and men who currently operate the restaurant and publish the books that bear its name, still believe in cooking with natural foods and whole foods, and the 250 new vegetarian and vegan recipes in the book return to those roots.
The ethnic flavors exhibited here may not be as unfamiliar to American palates as they were in 1977, but we still appreciate the effort to bring a broad range of seasonings, spices, and influences to the table. Even better: these are new recipes, rather than another effort to revisit Katzen’s ’70s recipes without the reliance on eggs, milk, butter, and cheese that played much bigger roles in the vegetarian fare of the time. (There are still eggs and dairy here, but the green tomato omelet and baked eggs with spinach are followed by a tofu scramble and avocado smoothie.)
Long before there was a locavore movement, Moosewood knew how to use the seasonal, regional bounty of area farms, and the new book offers uses for ingredients that may still be unfamiliar to many cooks, such as watermelon radishes, garlic scapes, and microgreens, not to mention an array of mushrooms: “less common fruits and vegetables that you might find in your CSA or at the farmers’ market,” says the Collective.
The authors have focused on vegan and gluten-free fare this time around, using grains and grain substitutes like freekeh, farro, black rice, red rice, millet, red quinoa, flax, and chia seeds, and where ingredients like preserved lemons, harissa, and chermoula sauce are used, or even the restaurant’s garam masala and spice rub, the cookbook tells you how to make them. “We went on a few adventures while we were developing this book,” they say, exploring “a couple of cuisines that are relatively new to us.”
For those who can’t make the book-signing, The Moosewood Restaurant Table is available right next door (in person or online) at Buffalo Street Books, and there are electronic Kindle and hardcover editions available from Amazon.
Moosewood Restaurant is on the Seneca Street side of the Dewitt Mall in Downtown Ithaca, at 215 North Cayuga Street.