One of the great things about following hundreds of other VeganMofo’ers is the creativity and variety of recipes you stumble upon. For the first Vegan Iron Chef Challenge, the secret ingredient was chickpeas. I ran across this divine recipe at the Unhealthy Vegan’s blog for a chickpea-based shepherd’s pie. Oh my! It had complex flavors and textures and made a hearty fall or winter meal. We served it with baby dill pickles (as per the blogger’s recommendation!), pickled beets, and a mixed green salad. Excellent!
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After getting several green tomatoes and green beans from our CSA, I decided to go on a frying spree. Using this recipe from blogger Bianca Phillips from Vegan Crunk, featured on One Green Planet, I made some of the most amazing fried green tomatoes. Having grown up part of my childhood in the South and still having many extended family members living there, I developed a taste for fried vegetables. Once, when I was in high school, I almost burned down our kitchen making fried green tomatoes for the first time after a frying pan of oil caught on fire. Luckily no one was seriously injured and I’ve become more aware of kitchen safety. We don’t fry up too many foods like this, so I don’t feel too guilty doing it every once in a while. These were good tomatoes, but the hubs thought they could have been crispier.
I was also craving fried green beans after having some amazing ones at a local restaurant. Using this recipe from The Neelys on Food.com, I made fried green beans for the very first time. I think it could have been improved if I had been more effective in my battering style. I didn’t get the coating of batter on each green bean evenly and it affected the cooking. Also, more spices could have been added to the batter to give it more flavor. I did use Chipotle Vegenaise as a dipping sauce for the green beans, which was divine!
To add to the meal, and to use up some of the red tomatoes we got in our CSA, I made a spicy chickpea casserole based on a former recipe I created and posted about for spicy chickpeas. The only difference is that I put this recipe into a glass Pyrex dish and put slices of tomatoes on top and baked it in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
We’ve had abundance of corn lately that we’ve gotten from our local farmers market. Adding it to this dish seemed quite appropriate and balanced out the spicy and fried foods quite well.
Preparing colorful salads makes eating my veggies that much more pleasurable. In this salad, I combine ingredients that by themselves are delicious and healthy, but together, make a gastronomic masterpiece. (This also is my entry into Vegan Mofo’s Iron Chef Challenge #1 for chickpeas.) Enjoy!
Chickpea & Red Quinoa Salad
1 head chopped romaine lettuce
1-2 cups chickpeas
1-2 cups cooked red quinoa (follow instructions on the box/brand you buy)
1 chopped red onion
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped yellow pepper
1 chopped orange pepper
1-2 carrots, sliced thinly
Toss in the dressing of your choice. A dressing that I’ve enjoyed lately is a simple lemon-olive oil mix.
Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing
juice of 1-2 lemons
1-2 TB olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
a pinch of cayenne or cajun seasoning
Tuxedo Cat Book Reviews, Breakfast, Desserts, Dinner, Holiday Foods, Lunch cookbooks, Donna Simón, Good Time Eatin' in Cajun Country, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Louise Hagler, Nava Atlas, Terry Hope Romero, The Tofu Cookery, Vegan Brunch, Vegan Holiday Kitchen, Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews, Veganomicon
In my quest for coming up with my “top 5” lists, I had a very difficult time paring it down to only 5 for cookbooks. I love cookbooks and find myself reading them like novels. Therefore, this list departs a little and there are 6 gems. This could have been much longer, but I wanted to limit it to the books that I have used the most often or continue to get inspiration from. Also, there are some authors, particularly Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Nava Atlas that could easily take up the entire list, so I really had to restrain myself in picking some of their books.
The truth of the matter is that there are 6 entries because I could not decide between Veganomicon and Vegan Brunch. I literally went through both of them, counted how many recipes I’ve made, and found that there was only one recipe separating the two, so they both made the cut. I also purposely omitted dessert cookbooks because those are some natural favorites and I wanted cookbooks for everyday meals. Perhaps I’ll do a top five vegan dessert cookbooks blog post in the future.
My top 6 vegan-friendly cookbooks in no particular order are as follows:
1. Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. This cookbook is known as the bible of vegan cooking and it’s sub-title is aptly named, “The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.” I initially bought this book many years ago after rummaging through it at Barnes and Noble and spotting the savory and sweet crepes’ recipes. Isa and Terry have all of the bases covered here. There is everything from appetizers, dips, brunch, salads and dressings to “sammiches,” soups, casseroles, one-pot meals, desserts, and more! If you were stuck on a desert island and could only take one cookbook with you, this would be it. In addition to the crepes, some of my favorite recipes from Veganomicon include Marinated Italian Tofu, Chickpea-Noodle Soup, and Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel.
2. The Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler. This is one of the first cookbooks I remember buying when I became vegan. It was very helpful when I was still trying to figure out how to prepare tofu. In the beginning, I was terrible in working with tofu, but this cookbook gave me the confidence I needed to overcome that obstacle. Today, tofu is one of my favorite foods. Some of my favorite recipes from The Tofu Cookery include Herb Stuffed Shells, Tofu Spaghetti Balls, and Pumpkin Pie (this pie recipe is hands down the best pumpkin pie recipe I’ve made to date).
3. Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Since I love to entertain and usually cook my own holiday meals, I loved the theme for this book. I have given it high praise in previous blog posts, but I cannot say enough how much I love this cookbook. It has a great layout, organized by holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Easter, Independence Day and more. Some of my favorite dishes from Vegan Holiday Kitchen include Mixed Baby Greens with Pears and Glazed Pecans, Quinoa and Lentil-Stuffed Golden Squashes, and Kale and Carrot Strudel. This is a must-have for the holiday chef!
4. Good Time Eatin’ in Cajun Country: Cajun Vegetarian Cooking by Donna Simón. While this book has the word “vegetarian” in the title, most of its recipes are vegan. The only non-vegan ingredient mentioned in some of the recipes is honey. Honey can be easily substituted with agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup or whatever your favorite vegan sweetener is. I love this cookbook because a lot of my family is from the South and I like the idea of greens, mac and cheese, and other spicy meals. Most of the recipes are very simple to make and usually don’t require hard-to-find ingredients. My favorite recipes from Good Time Eatin’ in Cajun Country are Collard Greens, Parsley Potatoes, and Banana Bread.
5. Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons by Nava Atlas. I love to cook a hearty soup during the colder months, and this cookbook has ideas for all-year round. Even though I have many cookbooks with soup or stew recipes, this is the first one I pick up and usually is the one I find my prized soup recipe in. Favorites in Vegan Soup and Hearty Stews for All Seasons are Hearty Winter Roots Soup, Mock Chicken Noodle Soup, and Taco Soup. Even my husband loves the mock chicken noodle which uses tofu instead of chickens.
6. Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. One of the disappointments in eating out sometimes as a vegan, is finding delicious and exciting breakfast options. This cookbook is our go-to for all things breakfast and brunch. My omni husband regularly uses it when he’s in the mood for a yummy tofu scramble. There is a nice mix of sweet and savory brunch ideas, as well as side dishes, breads, drinks, and toppings. Some of our favorite Vegan Brunch recipes are Perfect Pancakes, Swiss Chard Frittata, and Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs.
After hearing about an amazing hummus vegan pizza from a now defunct Canadian restaurant, I decided to try my hand at this hummus-style pizza. Instead of using vegan cheese or even red sauce, I slathered the base of a cornmeal store-bought crust, with homemade pesto. Then I generously spread store-bought hummus as my “cheese” over the pesto. I topped it with slices of roma tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. I baked the pizzas according to the directions on the pizza crust package (probably at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, if memory serves me correctly).
It was a filling meal (even just one or two slices) and the tomato and basil toppings were a nice counterbalance to the chickpeas and pesto base. Since I’ve had this, I have even requested hummus on a thick crust at a local bar with even more tantalizing results (which I’ll blog about in the future). The crust helps make all the difference. This pie was great, in part, because of the thicker, tasty cornmeal crust. I will definitely make this again in different variations and would recommend it to any hummus lovers or those wanting to branch out of the normal “cheesy” pizzas. May the hummus-pizza revolution begin!