On my weekend getaway to D.C. last month, not only did I discover the restaurant Founding Farmers that I reviewed. I also found a used and rare bookstore that I loved in Georgetown, Bartleby’s.

I came across a great cookbook that I had to have – Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen: Healthy Meals for You and the Planet by Lorna J. Sass. Written in 1992 before being green or ecological was as hip as it now, this book

contains more than 250 recipes developed from the point of view that what is good for our health and satisfied our palate can be good for the earth – and easy on the pocketbook, too.
It may have been written 16 years ago, but it’s a cookbook that is very relevant for today. It’s a vegetarian cookbook with original recipes for soups, grains, pasta, beans, tempeh, tofu, vegetables, salads, spreads, dressings, muffins and desserts. There are no dairy or eggs in any of the recipes.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I have been adding vegetarian cookbooks to my collection. There are fantastic recipes in them that you won’t find in non-vegetarian cookbooks.

I’ve already given one of the recipes a try – white bean-horseradish spread. This isn’t a traditional dip with cream cheese, mayo, or sour cream. The ingredients in this dip are all healthy – great northern beans, prepared horseradish and olive oil are its main ingredients. I really like horseradish so I thought I’d give this dish a chance, and my instincts were good. This is a tasty dip. It would be welcome on any snack table this holiday season. The recipe appears at the end of this post.

In addition to the recipes in this book, there is valuable advice. There is a list of pantry staples for the ecological kitchen and advice on how to store them. Some cooking basics are also explained, including how to pressure cook. Many of the recipes give two sets of directions: one for pressure cooking the dish and one for cooking it conventionally. There is even detailed advice on soaking and cooking beans that I referred to when making the spread.

In the back of the book there is a chapter called Ingredients A-Z where Sass says she has “provided some personal observations on the ingredients used in this book, plus my recommendations for selection, storage and cooking times.”

There is a lot to learn from Recipes from an Ecological Cookbook, and I’m really happy with my find. It seems the cookbook is out of print, but Amazon has several used copies available.

Recipe for White Bean-Horseradish Spread from Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen


  • 2 cups soft-cooked beans, such as navy, cannellini or Great Northern
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp prepare horseradish (you can use more or less to taste – I used more)
  • ½ to ¾ tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp sea salt (if beans are unsalted)
  • bean cooking liquid or water
  1. Using a blender of a food processor, combine all ingredients except the cooking liquid or water (you’ll have to prepare ahead to make sure you’ve got the cooked beans ready to go)
  2. Add cooking liquid or water until the mixture becomes your desired consistency – make it thinner if you want to use it as a dip
  3. Taste the spread and add more horseradish, salt, or rosemary if you feel necessary
The spread (which makes a great dip – I dipped whole wheat bagel chips in it) can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Bringing it to room temperature before serving will help bring all the flavors out.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Cookbook: Recipes from an ecological kitchen
A 1990's cookbook that is just as relevant today - maybe more so.