A new vegetarian cookbook by two Montreal chefs is pushing the envelope by offering readers dishes that are both classic and internationally inspired.
“From a chef’s point of view, it is more important to take a quality product such as locally grown fresh vegetables and use good techniques so that you can have a wonderful result,” says Igor Brotto.
He has co-authored “The Vegetarian Kitchen Table Cookbook” with Olivier Guiriec (Robert Rose, $27.95, paperback).
The pair both teach culinary arts at Institut de Tourisme et d'Hôtellerie du Québec in Montreal. Brotto, 39, is originally from Italy, and Guiriec, 42, from France.
Their goal was to bring together a variety of forms, colours, aromas and flavours for their readers.
“We are not vegetarians, but we love the idea of putting vegetables up front,” says Brotto. “And from a chef’s point of view it is more important that when you have quality produce, you handle it with good techniques and have a wonderful result.”
He adds: “It is really elevating the vegetable to a higher standard.”
Among the 275 recipes there are Red Curry Tofu with Shiitake Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots, Sun-dried Tomato, Brie and Arugula Wraps and Fig and Almond Tart.
As classical chefs used to working with lobster, filet mignon and foie gras, Brotto says he enjoys the chance to relegate the meat to the background to allow the vegetable part of the dish to shine up front on the plate.
“Vegetables give you a lot of colours, taste, acidity and textures that are amazing when you put them together,” he says.
Here from the cookbook is the chefs’ recipe for Tomato Tarte Tatin, a superb dish using sun-dried tomatoes.
Tomato Tarte Tatin
30 ml (2 tbsp) butter
500 g (1 lb) onions, thinly sliced
2 ml (1/2 tsp) chopped fresh savory leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
125 ml (1/2 cup) sun-dried tomatoes
150 g (5 oz) puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Mixed salad greens
Heat oven to 200 C (400 F). Oil four 7.5-cm (3-inch) tart pans.
In a deep skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add savory and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, cover sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water and let stand until softened. Drain well and pat dry.
Cut pastry into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece into a circle that is slightly larger than the tops of the tart pans.
Arrange rehydrated tomatoes evenly over bottoms of tart pans, then top with onion mixture. Fit pastry circles over top, tucking in edges between pan and vegetables. Prick tops with a fork and brush with egg.
Place pans on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until pastry is crisp and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly. Run a knife around edge of pastry, then flip over onto serving plates. Serve with a green salad on the side.
Makes 4 servings.