When cooking dinner for a group of guests that includes a couple of vegetarians and a few folks who can’t fathom eating a meat-free meal, it’s really not that hard to whip up a compromise—like a veggie lasagne with meatballs on the side. But it can be really difficult to make a steady stream of satisfying dinners when you’re a vegetarian married to a steak-lover, or a meat-and-potatoes family with one kid who has sworn off animal products.
That’s where Peter Berley, a former chef at New York’s vegan Angelica Kitchen restaurant, steps in. His recently reviewed new book, The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between, teaches readers how to create two versions of each recipe—one with meat and one without. Berley offers dishes like Portobello Mushrooms or Steak with Bread Crumb Salsa, spanakopita-style turnovers with lamb or seitan, and Crispy Pressed Chicken/Tofu with Garlic and Mint—a recipe that’s been tested by the Boston Globe:
Berley’s technique of weighting chicken thighs under a skillet and a brick made all the difference. ... The weight made the skin of the chicken thighs crisp, and squeezed out water so the meat cooked quickly. Slabs of tofu got a nice crust, too, though of course it didn’t express the effects of marinade as well as the meat.
Berley also offers strategies for creating “convertible” menus. And while we’re on the subject of flexitarianism, over on the Epi-Log one Epicurious editor shares her thoughts on being “a food editor who doesn’t eat all that much meat.”