NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR BY LIBRARY JOURNAL
Mark Bittman is revered for his simple, straightforward, and flexible approach to everyday cooking. In Dinner for Everyone, he shares 100 essential main dishes, each with easy, vegan, and all-out recipes as the mood or occasion requires. These 300 all-new recipes, accompanied by more than 100 full-color photographs, form a diverse collection that includes quick meals for busy weeknights (hearty soups, tacos, and one-pot pastas), creative plant-based fare that will please both vegans and non-vegans alike (lemon polenta with mushroom ragu, pomegranate-glazed eggplant, or cauliflower tinga tacos), and impressive dishes perfect for entertaining (handmade noodles and even your Thanksgiving centerpiece). Whatever the experience level, craving, or time constraint, home cooks will find exactly what they need to prepare all their favorites with confidence and enthusiasm. Rooted in Mark's philosophy of using efficient cooking techniques, fresh ingredients, and basic equipment--and written in his signature to-the-point style--Dinner for Everyone is a one-stop, indispensable reference for life's ultimate question: What's for dinner?
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About the Author
Bittman has starred in four television series, including Showtime’s Emmy-winning Years of Living Dangerously. He has written for countless publications, has spoken at dozens of universities and conferences, and made hundreds of television, radio, and podcast appearances. His 2007 TED talk has more than four million views.
He was a distinguished fellow at the University of California (Berkeley) and a fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is currently a member of the faculty of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and is writing a book about understanding food, as well as producing a podcast and newsletter. You can find Mark at www.markbittman.com, on Twitter @bittman, Facebook @markbittman, and Instagram @markbittman.
Read an Excerpt
“What’s for dinner?” is a daily, inevitable question. Depending on the rhythms of your life, you may either embrace the response as an invitation to cook, dodge it and head to the nearest restaurant, or pick up the phone or go online for delivery. Even though we know that preparing the evening meal is one of the most rewarding and nurturing of all the human rituals, deciding what to eat and how to pull it together remains a modern-day challenge.
I want cooking dinner at home to make you happy. For encouragement and inspiration on even the toughest days, here are foolproof recipes that let you choose from Easy, Vegan, and All Out—“perfect for company”—versions of all your favorite dishes.
Experienced cooks can dig right in and explore the all-new ways to interpret old standbys. Those of you who are new to the dinner game might try cooking one or two Easy and Vegan recipes a week and build from there. Your skills will improve, you’ll learn about new ingredients and seasonings, and the process of shopping and preparation will become more streamlined; actually, making dinner will help you feel comfortable in the kitchen way faster than could any television show, and—sooner than you might think—you’ll be making yourself and those around you happy almost every night.
I’d suggest that you start by expanding your definition of “dinner.” You can certainly build the evening meal around a large portion of well-sauced animal protein, then surround it with multiple starches and vegetables. Or not! These days, it makes way more sense to define dinner in terms of your cravings and situations, even if that means soup, or a simple bowl of noodles, or breakfast food, or a pot of beans and some bread; there should also be room at the table for all-vegetable entrees and hearty salads. You can always make something ahead of time and pull it from the freezer when you need a break. Whether your desires on any given night run to simply cooked stir-fries or burgers, or you’re ready to commit to projects like big-deal roasts, and enchiladas or fresh pasta, there are many ways we can rethink how we prepare and eat them. That’s why I’m offering a spectrum of options here.
I also take advantage—you should too—of the wide range of cuisines, techniques, and ingredients now available everywhere. Our appetites are more diverse than ever before; once-unfamiliar foods have become commonplace. These recipes capture the excitement of eating and cooking today by updating these 100 Dinners in ways that are both fresh and familiar.
Each Dinner category offers three different recipes: Easy dishes that can be executed on rushed weekdays; Vegan meals for your good health and that of the planet (which are, for the most part, also on the quick-and-easy side); and ambitious All Out kitchen projects for leisurely weekends or special occasions. Dinner for Everyone answers nearly every craving, mood, and constraint. With gorgeous photographs for each meal and a simple and intuitive organization, you’ll find just the right recipe—even if it wasn’t the thing you had in mind when you started turning the pages.
Using the Book
To choose the 100 Dinners that made the cut, I turned to classics screaming for an update (the Italian hunter’s stew known as Cacciatore or the 1960s favorite skillet meal, Beef Stroganoff), popular dishes from around the world (Ma Po Tofu and Moussaka), and specialty techniques (like jerk or en papillote—dubbed The Big Reveal). Some are broad archetypes (Pasta with Vegetables, Chowder) and many are American standards (Casseroles, Caesar Salad, Macaroni and Cheese). You’ll recognize all of them—either by photo or name—with many recipes that still closely follow the classic. And since each bundle offers three unique interpretations, along the way you’re in for lots of pleasant surprises.
The Easy Recipes
I’ve heard the same concerns from home cooks everywhere, and forever: “Cooking during the week has got to be easy or I just won’t do it.” And my rallying cry has always remained the same: Cook as often as you can, make dinner as simple as you need to, and don’t try to mimic restaurant food, since your meals are going to be better than most of what you end up eating out anyway.
The Easy recipes are always the first to appear in each group and are exponentially simpler than the touchstones they celebrate. Many take 30 minutes or less to cook. But since that parameter runs the risk of limiting your options to stir-fries and broiling, I’ve included many hands-off simmering or roasting recipes that may require a little longer to cook, but free you to do something else while the heat does its thing, like make sides, help the kids with homework, or watch TV. Those are “easy” in a different way.
There are shortcuts here to be sure—that’s the only way you could ever hope to enjoy the taste of homemade tamales, beef stew, or pot pie on a weeknight—but you’ll always be cooking from scratch. These recipes also minimize cleanup with as few bowls, pans, and utensils as possible, streamlined ingredients to minimize prep and waste, and the most expedient techniques imaginable.
The Vegan Recipes
Diet and nutrition are not as complicated as they’re made out to be: We know that eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk food and animal products is the way toward optimal health, and eating vegan on a part-time basis—a concept I’ve been advancing for more than a decade—accomplishes all of this. Once part-time veganism was a radical notion; now it’s everywhere. And despite the trendiness, fruits and vegetables will always be healthy. So why not cook vegan food more often?
Interpreting nonvegan dishes poses interesting challenges, because there’s usually more to a superior vegan dish than exchanging a slab of meat for a slab of tofu or simply removing the cheese. To replace the meat and dairy and feel satisfied, you often need a mix of grains, vegetables, and beans—foods that require trimming, chopping, complex seasoning, or simmering, and which may also require a bit more time. But you can speed things up by working ahead: making big batches of grains and beans on the weekends, for example, so they’re always ready to go. The recipes reveal dozens of tricks that will help ease you both into vegan cooking and into fast-cooking strategies.
Though the connection between the vegan recipe and the dish that inspired it (Chicken Salad or Chop House, for example) might not be immediately obvious, the flavor essence and satisfying elements of the original hide in plain sight. Sometimes I capture the same technique, sometimes the seasonings, sometimes a key ingredient, often a combination of all of these. In any case, I hope you agree these are among the most creative, dependable, and accessible vegan recipes anywhere, without a slice of fake meat or soy cheese in sight.
The All Out Recipes
Dinner can be downright blissful when you have time, inspiration, and excellent ingredients. While weeknight cooking can sometimes seem like a race for survival, what I call All Out cooking is for pleasure, which often means preparing food to share with others. And in the name of celebration, you can show off a bit and serve something impressive.
These are you’ve-got-to-try-at-least-once versions of fantastic, even mind-blowing dishes; often they’re the archetype. Going through the steps might remind you of the person who taught you to cook, lovingly and with care. Sometimes—as with Duck Confit—the process is quite simple and only requires patience. Occasionally—for, say, the Thanksgiving turkey, your elaborate whole-bird, stuffing-and-gravy affair or a traditional French Bistro Cassoulet—making the components is complicated, but the meal is totally relatable. In all cases, it’s comforting to know that the “ultimate” version is also the original, a throwback to when we had more time to transform simple ingredients into something special.
This level of cooking is both educational (you’ll learn new techniques) and aspirational (“I always wanted to make that”). See what sounds good based on season, event, and—most important—your mood and desires. Maybe you want to challenge yourself and start on a path that builds the confidence to push more and get even more proficient. Perhaps a friend made a request for a celebration. Or you want a meal that’s perfect for company. Sometimes you’ll simply respond to a craving and set aside time for a project. These recipes are for all those occasions.