I spent a lot of time this summer cooking from vegan cookbooks. I started with a classic – Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. It has been out for a while, and it’s a compendium of vegan recipes that are truly delicious but also a bit time consuming. I wanted to see which recipes I could make where I genuinely didn’t miss meat, and this cookbook delivers.
The main dish and appetizer recipes I tried, with my personal ratings up to four stars , were Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas (3), Walnut Mushroom Pate (2), Lentil Salad (3), Snobby Joes (4), Lemony Roasted Potatoes (4), Saffron-Garlic Rice (3), Chickpeas Romesco (3), Southwestern Corn Pudding (4), Mole Skillet Pie with Greens (3), Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chili Sauce (3), Manzana Chili Verde (2), Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping (3). (I’m basing my ratings on both taste and effort, i.e. they get higher ratings in my book if they were both delicious and didn’t take hours in the kitchen.) Then I lost steam, since many of them were time consuming and involved multiple steps, multiple sauces, etc, all of which are not easy when one has a small baby. Sometimes I felt like the results weren’t necessarily worth the time I put into making the recipes. But I was also amazed by how good things could taste without any dairy or meat at all, especially some of the sauces, like the Enchilada Chile Sauce (4 stars!) from the Potato and Kale Enchiladas, a blend of roasted peppers, tomatoes, and chili powder, and the Cashew Ricotta (also 4 stars!), which would be a great dip or a wonderful filler for pasta with tomato sauce.
Among the recipes I am putting in regular rotation from this book are the snobby joes and the lemony roasted potatoes. Snobby Joes are basically a lentil version of sloppy joes, which is not a dish I particularly care for, but with lentils they become a fun and easy weeknight entree, served on a roll with some oven fries. The Lemony Roasted Potatoes are like those potatoes they serve at Greek restaurants, in which the potatoes are cooked for such a long time in a lemony, savory sauce that they sort of melt in your mouth.
The sweet treats at the end of Veganomicon, however, are not particularly time consuming and are delicious. Vanilla ice cream was a stand-out: super easy, it uses coconut cream and tofu, but once it has churned in your ice cream maker, you would have no idea it was vegan, it’s that good. I’ve made it twice so far. The banana bread and wheat-free chocolate chip cookies are wonderful. Another of my favorite recipes was for almond quinoa muffins, adapted slightly here. They are crunchy and not too sweet, so you can feel virtuous as you pile on the vegan Earth Balance and jam. Make a batch on Sunday so you can have them to eat during the work week.
Veganomicon was a great intro to vegan cooking, but it didn’t end up being my favorite of the multiple vegan cookbooks I tried this summer. Isa Does It, by one of the V’Con authors, and the Oh She Glows cookbook took those honors, mainly because the recipes in those books are both fast and delicious, something I didn’t find to be true with Veganomicon. More on those in a future post!
- 1 cup soy or almond milk
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
- ¼ cup almond meal almond flour (make your own by grinding up almonds in the food processor)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1¼ cups cooked quinoa
- ½ cup finely chopped dried apricots or currants
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk milk and flaxseed. Let sit for one minute.
- Add in oil, agave, and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
- Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing just to get ingredients incorporated. Fold in cooked quinoa and apricots at the end.
- Pour into muffin cups and bake 22-24 minutes. Check with a toothpick inserted into middle to see if they are done.