Pros: Intense flavors; easy recipes; quick recipes
Cons: Hard to prop open; some hard-to-find ingredients
Rating: 5 out of 5
It’s called “The Vegan Gourmet” but don’t let that fool you. This is good food, whether or not you consider yourself to be a vegetarian or vegan. We just bought it because vegetarian cookbooks often have healthier recipes in them than non-vegetarian cookbooks.
Now, we have one vegetarian cookbook (I’ll review it later) that really doesn’t impress me. Sure, it’s healthy. It’s easy. It’s also bland, without much in the way of flavors. We almost never use it. Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Mindy Toomay know better – they know that flavorful food satisfies better. That people want food that tastes yummy, whether they’re vegetarians or not. So between the covers of this unassuming little paperback book you’ll find more than 120 recipes filled with surprising flavor, and a good number of suggested menus.
You’ll also find a glossary of specialty ingredients, an “almost instant recipe” list, and suggestions for further reading. That listing of “almost instant” recipes is invaluable when planning for a mid-week meal. And those quick recipes are just as good as the longer ones.
The recipes also include nutritional info. For those of you on the Weight Watchers Points-based thing, it includes fiber content, which many cookbooks don’t.
Let’s head straight for the high-flavor recipes, at the very beginning of the Appetizers chapter: Sweet Red Pepper Strips with Artichoke and Caper Filling. Wow. Just wait till you see the ingredient list, rife with such flavorful goodies as Dijon mustard, sweet paprika, and apple cider vinegar. As if that weren’t enough, this is an “almost instant” dish!
Then there’s Marinated Tofu Skewers with Cherry Tomatoes. Sounds kind of bland, doesn’t it? Only until you find out that the marinade includes lime juice, dark sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh ginger, and spices! I don’t even like olives all that much, and yet even I’m drooling over the Olive, Basil, and Walnut Spread with Madeira. There’s a Spiced Carrot Spread – and I mean spiced!
There’s a Salads chapter, with such wonderful delights as Spinach, Kiwi, and Grapefruit Salad with Cilantro Sherry Vinaigrette. One of our favorite recipes from this cookbook is the Couscous Salad with Dried Tomato Vinaigrette – this is another one of those high-flavor low-effort dishes. (As a side note, we found it went particularly well with the Chicken Breasts with Mango Sauce from “Healthy Indian Cooking.”) There’s also a Soups and Stews chapter. It includes Spicy Chili Beans with Tempeh and Dried Peaches! Or Roasted Corn Soup with Fresh Basil!
Next come Side-Dish Vegetables. Artichokes Braised with Garlic and Lemon. Cauliflower Sauteed with Peaches and Cardamom. And then another one of our great favorites: Stovetop Stuffed Tomatoes with Crispy Bread Crumbs, another Almost Instant dish that is simply wonderful.
There are also Pasta Dishes (Vermicelli with Curried Eggplant and Chard in Ginger Tomato Sauce), Grain Dishes (Asparagus Risotto with Oyster Mushrooms and Ginger), Sautes and Stir-Fries (Tempeh with Curry Peanut Sauce), Entrees from the Oven (Stuffed Artichokes with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce), Morning Meals (Rice Porridge with Gingered Blueberries and Toasted Nuts), and Sandwiches and Wraps (Tempeh, Salsa, and Avocado Wrap).
My only substantive complaint about this cookbook is the same one that I have about any relatively small, paperback cookbook – it’s hard to prop open. You might want to visit the King Arthur Flour Company for some cookbook shields to take care of that problem. Otherwise, this is a fantastic cookbook, whether you’re vegan or not.