Cookbook Challenge Week Nine: 1000 Vegan Recipes

So this weeks challenge I was really hoping to be able to try out Yellow Rose Recipes, but as kind as Joanna was in making a few more copies of her book available I was a little too late in the game by the time I got around to ordering it. So instead of YRR, my book of choice this week is 1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson. No joke, this is one behemoth of a book! Well I guess it would have to be to fit 1000 recipes into it but this hard covered baby is actually 1 1/2 inches thick! Now I know what you’re thinking, 1000 recipes sounds just a tad overwhelming  and initially I thought so too, but once you take a look through it you’ll notice how well organized it is and how many of the recipes are quick, simple and utilize natural, pantry friendly items. There’s a fair share of recipes that call for tofu, tempeh, seitan and the like but what I really like is that the vast majority of recipes does not rely on soy or faux meat items, just good ol’ natural vegetables. Like I said, whoever put this book together did a thorough job, the index is massive and perfect for when you are having a clean out the pantry night, need to use up some broccoli? Just look up the ingredient and all the recipes are listed below.

I had a long day of baking  on sunday and by the time suppertime rolled around I was in no mood to cook up anything that took any effort, on top of that we hadn’t gone to the grocery store so I had to make due with what we had. I had one lonely sweet potato that had been hanging out in our pantry for a while and there was a big bunch of kale in the fridge, so Kale and Sweet Potatoes it was. This recipe is super basic, it doesn’t call for any spices and gets most of its flavour from whatever veggie broth you use and the quality of your vegetables. This would make a great side dish but since I happen to have a half open can of white beans in the fridge and a couple breakfast sausages leftover from the previous weeks cookbook challenge, this turned into a nice hearty main dish. The prep time took less then 10 minutes and remainder of the time was spent waiting for the sweet potato to cook, perfect for a quick, healthy meal.

I feel like I haven’t had any decent veggie burgers in a while and with a whole section dedicated to said burgers it just seemed like the natural thing to do was just, ya know, make some burgers! I’ve heard some good things about the burger recipes in this book but with one of the ingredients being vital wheat gluten in many of the recipes, I was a little on the fence about trying them out ofter the whole chewy Carrot Ginger Burger fiasco. After much debate I finally picked the White Bean and Walnut Patties, the recipe only makes 4 patties so even if the recipe turned out like crap I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a waste. The recipe gives you the option of either frying or baking, and I went the baked route. Do I ever regret not doubling the recipe, these burgers are fabulous! They’re made with flavourful ingredients like walnuts, parsley, mustard and sage and have a great texture, the VWG makes them firm without being crumbly but there were no chewy or gummy issues whatsoever! I’m pretty sure they if they were sprayed with a bit of oil they would hold up well on a barbecue. I had mine on some burger buns with tomatoes and lettuce (well kale to be exact, I still hadn’t gone to the grocery store) but they would also be great served as is with a nice gravy or sauce.

To go with the burgers I whipped up the Broccoli with Almonds. When you’re sautéing the mushrooms you can throw in the broccoli to cook along with it but to speed up the process I steamed the broccoli for a few minutes beforehand. Broccoli, mushrooms, wine and almonds sounded like a delicious combination to me but when I gave it a taste it just sort of tasted bland. It could have had something to do with the wine I used but it was really lacking in that deep sophisticated wine flavour I was expecting. It still made for a nice healthy side dish but I’d saute some onion along with the garlic and also use a more flavourful wine next time.

I was really craving some tempeh the other night and Tempeh with Maple, Mustard and Balsamic Glaze sounded pretty tasty in my books, plus I thought it would go well with the remaining sweet potato I had left. The recipe calls for simmering the tempeh in a pot of water for 30 minutes, for those of you who have never had tempeh before this is to get rid of the bitter flavour that tempeh usually has, the only change I made here was adding a tablespoon of soy sauce to the water to give it a little extra flavour. Now if you’re not a big fan of balsamic vinegar, this dish is totally not for you, I really enjoy it but thought it was a little overwhelming. The sweetness of the maple mixed with the spiciness of the tabasco (which I doubled) was really nice but the mustard seemed to get lost in amongst the other flavours, so I would suggest increasing it or using a really strong flavoured mustard. I’d also cut back on the broth as all the added liquid really took away the crispiness of the tempeh and I much prefer crispy tempeh to the soft plumped up kind. All in all it was a decent dish that could be made better with a couple tweaks and it did go good with my roasted sweet potato.

By only reviewing a select few recipes I really feel as though I haven’t done this book justice, especially since I went the quick and easy route. I’ve had this book for a while now and have cooked and baked a nice few things out of it (make the sour cream bundt cake!) and although I don’t use it on a weekly basis it’s definitely one of those great books to have on your shelf when you don’t know what to make, just randomly open it up and pick something with your eyes closed (seriously, you can’t go wrong by using this method). With such an comprehensive collection of recipes, there is literally something for everyone, so even if you don’t like everything you try, you’re bound to find something you love.

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