So many vegan cookbooks, so little time ... When I first heard the title of this new book, I thought, "what a great idea!" As a food coach and author of So Now What Do I Eat? The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Convenience Foods, my readers know that I'm all about making it as easy as possible for people to transition to a vegan diet. Visiting clients at their homes and taking them shopping has shown me that many people feel overwhelmed by the prospect of adopting a plant-based diet. When I help someone clean out their refrigerator and pantry of all products containing animal ingredients, we're often left standing in the middle of a kitchen with bare cabinets, an empty fridge, and a pile of food in boxes or garbage bags on the floor. Later, when I take them to their local natural foods store and introduce them to healthier but unfamiliar ingredients, they seem confounded by the strangeness of it all. So what a great idea to be able to say to someone that everything they need to prepare a bounty of healthful, delicious, plant-based meals is sitting right there in the ordinary surroundings of their local supermarket!
Supermarket Vegan is filled with a tantalizing array of appetizers, soups, stews, salads, wraps, noodle dishes, and desserts showcasing international cuisine from the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. With dishes like Greek Buglur-Stuffed Peppers with Mint, Cellophane Noodles with Scallions and Chow Sauce, and Curried Eggplant Black-Eyed Pea Stew, and Avocado Tostadas there's something wonderful to tempt everyone's palate.
As I do with any new cookbook, I sat down and read through every recipe before choosing which ones I wanted to sink my teeth into. If I have one criticism of this book, it's that most of the recipes are fairly high in fat. But that is easily remedied by cutting out half the oil called for in any given recipe or by eliminating the oil completely. I did this with several recipes without compromising taste, as with this gorgeous recipe for Hawaiian-Style Sweet and Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers.
Pineapple and coconut intermingled beautifully to create a dish that was distinctly Hawaiian. I added marinated tempeh and served it over a bed of steaming jasmine rice to create a meal that was delightfully nourishing and satisfying.
One evening I read off some of the recipes I'd bookmarked to Mark. Buddhist Hot-and-Sour Soup with Tofu appealed to him, because there was a chill in the air, and he very much enjoys having soup on a cold and blustery day. I loved the rich brown broth that was achieved by combining soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and black bean sauce, and was thoroughly delighted to discover that yes indeed, my local supermarket did carry the latter two. To make the soup a bit heartier so that we could enjoy it as a main course, I added cellophane rice noodles, scallions, carrots, and water chestnuts. We both agreed that it was one of the tastiest soups we'd ever had.
Following is the for recipe African Cabbage, Carrot, Potato, and Chickpea Stew from Donna Klein's Supermarket Vegan excerpted by arrangement with Perigee Books, a member of the Penguin Group. Copyright © 2010.
2 Tbs peanut oil and/or extra-virgin olive oil (I omitted this and used vegetable broth, instead)
1 16-oz bag baby carrots
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
8 ounces shredded cabbage (I used red and green)
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
2-3 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp sugar, or to taste (optional)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large deep-sided nonstick skillet with a lid, heat oil (or broth) over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes, adding the garlic the last minute or so of cooking. Add the potatoes, chickpeas, cabbage, broth, water, tomatoe paste, sugar (if using), cumin, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes (if using), and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, an cook until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes, stirring ocassionally. Serve warm over rice or couscous.
I'm very excited about sharing a copy of Supermarket Vegan with one of my readers. It's a wonderful resource for those of you who are just starting out on your vegan adventure and would make the perfect gift for someone you may know who is just starting out. Here's all you have to do to enter to win:
Follow this blog, and leave a comment here telling me why you'd like to win a copy of Supermarket Vegan. Please make sure to include your email address, so I can contact you when you win.
You can earn extra entries by following me on twitter (@vegiegail) and tweeting about this contest with a link back to this blog post. Stay tuned—I'll be choosing one lucky winner later this week. Good luck!