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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Meatless recipes from Maui cook

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Columnist

 •  Serve up frittata hot or cooled

He's a cook at a Maui resort by day, but in his other life, Brian Igarta is the Maui Vegetarian. This is also the title of his self-published cookbook, released recently.

Like many self-published cookbooks, "The Maui Vegetarian, Cooking with Aloha" (Sunquest, paper, $18.95) shows signs of being a labor of love, put together by someone who knows a lot about cooking he's a graduate of Maui Community College's culinary program but perhaps less about writing, book design and food photography. Still, the recipes will be of interest to anyone looking for healthful, out-of-the-ordinary meatless options to try.

The 80-something recipes in the book are a blend of chef-kine and local-kine. An utterly gorgeous apple tart is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to see on a hotel dessert buffet except that it contains no butter or dairy and uses whole-wheat pastry flour. But you'll also find vegetarian gandule rice (the Puerto Rican favorite made with gandule beans), porkless chow fun and a version of beef tomato without the beef homey, familiar recipes.

Just one look at the garnishes in the photos and you know this is a guy who passed his knife-skills class. But most of the dishes are super-simple, requiring no special equipment.

Igarta, who learned about vegetarianism from the Reformed Seventh-day Adventist Church, believes meatless eating is "the original diet of man." He and his wife, Crystal, and their 4-year-old daughter all are vegans (meaning they eat no animal products).

Two easy recipes caught my eye because I've experimented with similar recipes at home: making fried patties from mashed beans instead of meats or fish. I serve these in place of hamburgers, tuna or corned beef cakes as an entree with rice or even on bread as a sandwich. Not being a vegan, I bind the beans with a little mayonnaise, just as you do crab cakes. Igarta, however, keeps the calories and fat low by using just the moisture from the cooked black beans, chopped aromatic vegetables, spices and bread crumbs. A second version made with garbanzo beans and artichoke hearts sounded intriguing. And he puts the whole thing together in minutes in a food processor. (Most of these dishes do go together quickly, contradicting the general stereotype of vegetarian cooking as time-consuming.)

The book includes a glossary and some helpful recipes for vegan versions of kitchen staples, such as a "cheese" sauce made with cashews, an almond sprinkle meant to replace parmesan cheese and a nut-based "Mother Sauce" for making various dressings.

"The Maui Vegetarian" is available at O'ahu Borders stores and Maui Down to Earth or ordered from www.themauivegetarian.com.

Send recipes and queries to Wanda A. Adams, Food Editor, Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Fax: 525-8055. E-mail: wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.

For more information about our 150th anniversary cookbook, call 535-8189 (message phone; your call will be returned). You can pre-order the cookbook online.