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Veg Halen

'Lust for Leaf' shows off the rowdier side of meat-free cooking
Hot Knives
Evan George and Alex Brown, the Hot Knives duo (Photo by Aaron Farley)

Chefs Evan George and Alex Brown--better known by their blog moniker, Hot Knives--are well aware of the blandness that often comes to mind upon hearing the term “vegetarian cookbook.”

That’s why their newest effort, Lust for Leaf: Vegetarian Noshes, Bashes, and Everyday Great Eats ($15), forgoes all macrobiotic subtlety. Instead, it dives headfirst into the world of “veggie party food,” as told through the irreverent viewpoint of two Eastside bohemians famous for their hedonistic, meat-free backyard BBQs.

The self-described “bearded, mezcal-swilling Marthas” successfully demonstrate that vegetarian food can be indulgent and unrestrained enough to satiate even the most carnal of partygoers. The duo draw from Los Angeles’ deep well of cultural influences, ranging from soulful blackened okra gratin to malted muhammara dip and mayo-slathered grilled corn.

Recipes such as fried oyster mushroom po’boys, cool ranch biscuits, "nasty dates" filled will blue cheese and curry paste (see the recipe), and roughage-packed “weed dip” are designed to be shared at boisterous summer shindigs. And in consideration of the busy (and possibly intoxicated) host, the dishes are streamlined for straightforward preparation.

Naturally, each of the 128 recipes comes with a suggested beer and soundtrack pairing.

Party on, fellow herbivores.

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