With more and more families consciously deciding to eliminate meat from their diets, cookbook author, popular blogger of Herbivoracious, and father of two daughters shares his thoughts on how to implement a vegetarian diet for the whole family.

We are also giving away a copy of Michael Natkin’s new cookbook, Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes (Harvard Press Commons May 2012), and appreciate him for sharing his Dutch Baby With Sautéed Apples recipe from his new cookbook.

Alice:  What advice would you give parents seeking to implement a vegetarian diet for the family?

Michael:  I think if you are already vegetarian when you have kids, it won’t really even come up for a long time because they just do what you do. If you already have kids and want to go vegetarian, I would have an honest conversation with them about your reasons for making that change, and I’d consider doing it gradually so everyone has time to adapt. One of my goals in writing my cookbook was to provide big, flavorful vegetarian recipes that will leave you fully satisfied, whether or not you are used to eating meat-centered meals, so hopefully it can help you make any transition you might be contemplating. I also hope a lot of families will simply use it as a way to eat *less* meat, without being too concerned about the labels.
 
Alice:  I love how inventive and internationally inspired many of the recipes in your cookbook are.  Are your kids adventurous eaters?  If yes, what advice can you give parents to encourage their children to also be adventurous?

Michael: I think the best thing you can do is involve your kids in as much of the process as possible. Take them shopping, both to grocery stores and farmer’s markets, and talk about all of the different products. Let them choose new things to try. Invite them to taste ingredients as you prepare them and talk about what flavors they experience. Let them help out in the kitchen with simple tasks like cutting soft vegetables with a butter knife, stirring bowls, etc. If you stimulate their curiosity instead of engaging in power struggles with them, they will eventually try new things. And just know that most kids go through a carbo-tarian phase that may last several years. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just keep putting a variety of healthy foods on the table and let them figure it out over time. By the way, my wife is a parent educator, and she’s written an awesome article on this very topic. 
 
Alice: What will you be cooking for Mother’s Day for your wife?

Michael:  We have a tradition that the kids and I make a Dutch Baby (a giant, oven-baked pancake) and bring it to her in bed. And of course she gets to decide what I’m making for dinner!

Alice:  Thanks Michael!

To win a copy of Michael’s cookbook, leave a comment below telling us your favorite vegetarian dish. One entry per person.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Kitchen Explorers by email (on the left hand column of the site), so you don’t miss any of our fabulous giveaways, recipes and other tasty tips. The contest is open to everyone with a US mailing address.  Entries must be submitted by May 3, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. PST.  Winner will be contacted by email.

Quick notes

Michael’s notes: I never knew what a Dutch baby was until my wife introduced me to this favorite from her childhood. It’s an enormous, oven-baked pancake that puffs up theatrically, then just as suddenly collapses into a rich, custardy pie—similar to a clafoutis but less eggy. The preferred way to cook a Dutch baby is in a cast-iron skillet with a lot of butter in the bottom so that you get a little bit of a popover-type crust. Confectioners’ sugar and a squeeze of lemon are the traditional accompaniments.

The sautéed apples are our house variation. For a savory twist, skip the apples and add modest amounts of grated aged Gouda cheese, sautéed onions, and herbes de Provence directly to the batter.

I especially like to serve this Dutch baby for brunch with company, because I can make the batter and sautéed apples in advance and then finish the pancake in the oven while I visit with my guests. If you want to do it that way, you can make the batter the night before and refrigerate it in the blender jar, giving it a last second spin to reblend. The apples can be made an hour ahead of time and rewarmed just before serving.

Recipe: Dutch Baby With Sautéed Apples

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 20 min(s)
  • Total Time: 30 min(s)

A recipe from Michael Natkin's cookbook, "Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes."

Ingredients

    • 5 large eggs
    • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • Kosher salt
    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
    • 2 firm apples such as Cortland or Gala, peeled, cored, and cut into 16 slices each
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • Confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 425°F.
    • Combine the eggs, milk, flour, and salt in a blender. Blend at high speed for 1 minute.
    • Put 6 tablespoons of the butter into a well-seasoned 12-inch cast-iron skillet or other large, oven-safe pan. Put the skillet in the oven.
    • When the butter is melted and sizzling, carefully pull the skillet out and swirl the butter around or use a brush to be sure the whole skillet is coated. Pour in the batter and return the pan to the oven. Cook until puffed and golden brown, about 18 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the apples and sauté until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt, and sauté until fully tender and glazed, about 2 minutes more.
    • When the Dutch baby is done, carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Pat off any excess butter on top with a paper towel. Top with the apples and a generous sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar. Since the skillet is really hot, you might want to plate this in the kitchen rather than bring it to the table. Offer lemon wedges on the side; they add a nice counterpoint to the sweetness

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  • Joy T.

    Kung Pao Tofu is our family favorite vege dish. But I could easily say that our lemon butter dutch pancakes are just if not more popular :P

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  • Diana

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  • Karen

    Looks like a wonderful cookbook! In our house, any kind of pasta with veggies is a winner!

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  • Stacy

    This is a great post – my husband is a long-time vegetarian, and late last year our two kids, then ages 5 and 8, decided to become vegetarians, too. One of our newer favorite veggie recipies is socca (chickpea flour) crepes filled with all sorts of sauteed vegetables (think zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, etc.) and a sprinkling of goat or feta cheese. The chickpea flour is high in protein. Love all these ideas posted by others!

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    I’ve been a proud vegetarian for almost six years with my family following soon after. The change was difficult at first, but with so many amazing recipes from cookbooks like these – it made it so simple!
    My favourite vegetarian dish would have to be Asian Salad Wraps.
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  • Breanna

    I will definitely try this recipe – looks delicious! My favorite recipe would probably be Eggplant Parmesan. Battered eggplant layered with parmesan, mozzerella, basil and tomato sauce. Simply delicious!

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  • Julia

    My favorite vegetarian dish is orzo with roasted vegetables. Yum…I’m making it tonight!

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    So many favorite vegetarian meals to choose from: my pesto lasagna, black bean burgers, spinach orzo soup….but my most recent discovery is a curried sweet potato and lentil dish!

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    Our favorite vegetarian dish is bean burritos. I recently became vegetarian and would love to learn more recipes with a cookbook like this one!

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  • Breanna

    Who won?