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Welcome to the PASSIONATE VEGETARIAN site, an ever- (well, frequently) changing adjunct to your favorite cookbook, by Crescent Dragonwagon (CD): her first new cookbook in a decade. Featured in the February 2004 Vegetarian Times, winner of two major awards, the book contains over 1000 recipes. Here on-site you'll find updates, new recipes, info about where and when CD will be teaching, signing books, or leading a tour (in 2004, to Italy, iin December: the cooking/writing/travel adventure of a lifetime). . What else is here? Reader contributions, essays, corrections, surprises, cogitations, v-restaurant reviews, and the elusive, effusive, ever-popular MORE-MORE-MORE (as if 1228 pages and 1000+ recipes wasn't already more than enough). PASSIONATE VEGETARIAN won the 2003 James Beard Cookbook Award, (category: Vegetarian), was an International Association of Culinary Professionals 2003 Cookbook Awards finalist (category: Best General Cookbook). and has been generously and enthusiastically received by readers and reviewers from New York to New Zealand. With 125,000 copies in print, and a spot on more than 30  "10 Best of the Year" lists, don't you think it's time to get your own copy from your favorite local independent or on-line bookstore? After all, it's super-affordable $24.95, plus you'll strain your back if you keep on toting it home from the library, renewal after renewal (besides, other people want to take it out, too, you know). Here we'll have some fun, cook up a storm (or cook the foods that will get us through storms, both  meterological and metaphorical). We'll break bread together, as well as preconceptions. Remember: you don't have to be Italian to love Italian food, and you don't have to be vegetarian to love this seductive, sensuous, full-flavored, utterly satisfying cuisine. Pull up a chair, a plate, the book, the site, and help yourself to as much as you'd like. More where that came from! Welcome!


Your new favorite cookbook is now officially award-winning.*


* The award is Beard; James Beard: see 2003 James Beard Awards and Passionate Entirety. Apologies to Ian Fleming and the James Beard Foundation; some temptations are too formidable to resist.

Crescent writes children's books, magazine articles, and even the occasional novel as well as cookbooks.

Learn more about her work and life at Or take a Fearless Writing course with her: details, including some workshops that mingle culinary touring in Italy with writing, at


First time visitors, welcome!
Please, make yourself at home. This home page is long, so scroll on down.
Or just . . .


try some recipes or visit our vegetarian's culinary ABC


discover the book


meet Crescent Dragonwagon


check House of Corrections for minor glitches in a few of the recipes in the first edition's printing of the book


plan now to take a passionate Italian tour of food and writing with Crescent this Christmas

Read one of CD's essays



Already a friend? Hello again!
Scroll down to what's NEW, including:


 NEW 2005 TRIP with CD to Passionate Italy, complete with a recipe for Pasta e Fagioli.


a JUST UPDATED tour and teaching schedule


a seductive Chocolate-Raspberry Mousse


an inside look at how a recipe is created


a chance to take CD's acclaimed Fearless Writing workshop

Media inquiries or public appearance requests?

And yet another NEW one: Passionate Vegetarian was named the 2003 American Vegetarian Association Book of the Year.

A Peanutty Note from Crescent, Summer 2005    

I've been caught out in an old chestnut about peanuts --- that they were native to Africa. My error was noticed  by the diligent (and well-informed!) reader Kristina Rieck. Kristina, who is also a high school teacher and an organic gardener, points out that in fact peanuts are native to our hemisphere, primarily tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Americas. Rather, peanuts  traveled to Africa and other regions of the world from the Americas, via the early Spanish explorers and traders. Eventually, they became a well-loved and integral part of many African dishes. It is true, though, Kristina added, that during slavery times in America, some Africans did bring peanuts with them, and sometimes to parts of the Americas where they had not yet been grown.

     Kristina sent me this info awhile back, but it's taken me awhile to get it up here (and in fact to update the site generally) because I have been under a deadline for a book which will be published in fall 2006. Its working title: Cornbread and Everything. Her comments fascinated me when I first got them, but even more so now, because Cornbread and Everything has brought home to me as never before how many, many foods the Americas gave the world --- roughly a third of the major food crops now domesticated worldwide! Corn, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers, chocolate, most beans, squashes, potatoes... and that's just for starters.

     I was and am triply fascinated by Kristina's sleuthing, actually. For, after Cornbread and Everything, I am going to be working on a reissue (really a wholesale redo) of a book I first published many, many years ago, back in 1972, The Bean Book. Because I know now (as I didn't then) that peanuts are actually a legume (bean) and not a nut, I had already been thinking about peanuts recipe-wise, and I am very happy with this new revelation.

     Really, in almost every plate of food on which we sustain ourselves, we taste the world, history, trade --- humanity in all its colorations, agriculture ad culture. Just plain everyday miraculous.

     Thanks, Kristina!

bullet So.. what’s PASSIONATE VEGETARIAN ?

It's a cookbook
, ten years in the making, which is ...
bullet"...seasoned by a story of shared food memories, love, loss, joy, renewal" (New York Newsday)
" ...epic... part novel, part cookbook and part memoir" (Miami Herald)
bullet " ....enticing to vegetarians and carnivores alike" (New York Newsday)
bullet"...sensual, aromatic, visually stimulating " (Gourmet Retailer)
bullet"...lyrical, wide-ranging... a definitive reference." (Dallas Morning News)
bullet" excellent resource ... every page has something worth exploring." (Seattle Times)
bullet" invitation to dine on wonderful foods with thoroughly tested recipes. In paragraphs introducing (them)...  Dragonwagon tells stories, gives food histories and makes you feel like she is right there in the kitchen." (Nashville Tennessean)
Of course, it's also recipes --- more than 1,000 of them in Passionate Vegetarian (and some here, like the NEW! Chocolate-Raspberry Dream Mousse. The latter is vegan; some of the other recipes use dairy and eggs, but all offer many variations, and are:
bullet"... for everyday living. Ingredient lists are always reasonable and understandable; you won't have to search high and low for something esoteric... comfort food that's easy to prepare, and deprives you of nothing..."   ( staff review)
bullet "...creative, inspiring, and exuberant... seductive, sexy,  utterly delicious " (Jessica's Biscuit Cookbook Catalog)
bullet ", easy to follow... interesting and delicious... and the results are out of this world.  " ( reader review)
bullet "...generous, creative, and full of life ...bursting with ideas, delectable dishes from all over the globe.  " (Deborah Krasner, author of The Flavors of Olive Oil)
bullet "... big, exuberant...indeed passionate... Her food is boldly seasoned and draws from a variety of cuisines.  " (Library Journal)
bullet "... demurely encyclopedic, conversational yet fastidiously detailed. The instructions are so thorough... spunky international flavor ... also plenty of hearty down-home fare...practically guarantee perfect results." ( reader review)

You'll also discover recipes from readers, like Dee W's Great Big Wok of Asian Noodle Soup. Contribute one today! (Drop it via e to
Well, is there "a" PASSIONATE VEGETARIAN ?  

But of course! Though many people meet that description, PV's author is  Crescent Dragonwagon
(CD, or Dragon, to friends). Culinary adventurer, writer not only of cookbooks but of children's books (many), novels (two), numerous magazine articles for publications ranging from the New York Times Book Review to Cosmopolitan to Fine Cooking, she also teaches  Fearless Writing™ , a workshop she developed.
CD, after 33 years  in the Ozark Mountain town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is taking a year or so at large (
NEW! Read all about it at Of Moose and Men (and Women), and Bi-Coastal Cornbread). Meanwhile, catch up with your peripatetic Dragon via now appearing at... or join her for a book signing, class, or this winter's Passionate Italy Tour ...scroll down for more.  

Above, Crescent and her much-loved late husband, Ned Shank, about three months before he lost his life in a bicycle accident on November 30, 2000. Photo, Bruce Crabtree.

bullet And, Passionate Vegetarian is also this site. Browse. Spend a little time. Poke around.

But just to get you started, check out:
bulletAddenda / errata, also known as House of Corrections. Little picking things (okay, mistakes, misprints, etc)  that'll be fixed in future printings of PV.
bulletA more-or-less quarterly essay by CD, telling the larger story behind a recipe (like Melting to Joy and  Snow Ice Cream), or which look behind and deeper in another way, like Passionate Entirety.
bullet An entire Culinary Alphabet for Vegetarians with on and off-site links for everything from  How do I add pizzazz to cooking vegetables? to What is this thing called protein?  to recipes using some of the alphabet's ingredients and techniques.
bulletThe occasional link to an archived (but at one time, live) interview or some such with CD.


Join Crescent Dragonwagon
for a culinary & literary tour,
in  Passionate Italy

December, 2005

CD brings the take-off-the-emergency-brake-hit-the-accelerator-and-let-'er-rip creative joy of her acclaimed Fearless Writing™  workshops to Italy's Emilia-Romagna twice this year. All this and truffle hunting too! Check out the details of this incomparably delicious trip.


(Above: a glorious fruit market in Bologna. Photograph, David Koff).

Maybe most of all, PASSIONATE VEGETARIAN is an outlook: feisty, sensual, adventurous, life-affirmative and downright celebratory. It’s knowing that how and what we eat and cook changes not just our own hungers and health, but those of the world: one plate at a time.

So, again  ---
you are welcome here.

The soup is simmering, the bread is out of the oven, the salad greens are washed and the dressing whisked.

Your place at the table is set.
So, let's get delicious. Let's cook. Let's feast. Together.


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