Mark Bittman's Fast and Vegan Takes on Classic Recipes
What's for dinner? Cookbook author Mark Bittman answers that question with two renditions each of three iconic dishes—a quick version for hurried weeknights and a plant-based one to please vegans and nonvegans alike.
Mark Bittman is known for flexible, simple recipes, and his new book, Dinner for Everyone, takes that approach a step further. He starts with a classic dish like stir-fry, pizza, or tacos, then adapts it three ways: fast, vegan, and elevated for company. He shares the fast and vegan versions here to solve your daily dinner dilemma.
Mark streamlines this classic Greek dish by baking eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and lamb together—eliminating the need to precook each separately and assemble the layers. He stirs in a cinnamon-and-oregano-spiced sauce to the "miracle" moussaka and returns it to the oven.
Mushrooms replace traditional lamb in Mark's shepherd's pie-inspired take on moussaka. He tops the dish with mashed sweet potatoes and a cashew cream sauce.
The Italian hunter stew typically involves hours of simmering meaty bone-in chicken pieces in a tomato-based sauce. On a weeknight, Mark builds flavor fast by searing quick-cooking drumsticks then braises them in a sauce of tomato, balsamic, and dried herbs for 20 minutes until tender.
"This is the kitchen-sink version of cacciatore," Mark says. His vegan spin includes mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, potatoes, and fava beans, but you could use almost any vegetable you have on hand.
Fast Pot Pie
"Think of this as the pot pie version of cobbler," Mark says. Topping creamy chicken-and-vegetable filling with stir-together biscuit dough makes it possible to whip up homemade pot pie in about an hour.
Meatless Pot Pie
Mark's riff on pastilla—a North African sweet-savory chicken pie—features a hearty Moroccan-spiced filling of parsnips, dried fruit, nuts, and olives beneath a flaky phyllo crust.
Mark's Cooking Musts
Marks' long-running column in The New York Times was called "The Minimalist" for a reason. Here are a few of his most basic tips for home-cooking success.
Buy the Best: Always start with quality ingredients. He says, "I let what I find at the market determine what I'll make for dinner instead of the other way around."
Taste as You Go: Often all you need is salt and pepper to make good ingredients taste delicious. For Mark, that means kosher salt and freshly ground black peppercorns.
Stock Up: When you have a well-stocked pantry, adapting a recipe or experimenting with flavor is easier. Use recipes as a blueprint; play with spices and seasonings to keep them interesting.