I’m taking a quick break from my Back in Thyme series to take part in the Nut Butter Universe Blog Tour. Don’t miss the bottom of this post for a recipe to try from the book and a chance to win your own copy!
Robin Robertson, who wrote Nut Butter Universe, is well known in the vegan cookbook community. She has a column at VegNews Magazine, where her recipes are regularly featured, and she has several bestselling cookbooks under her belt. So when Dianne Wenz, who I met at Vida Vegan Con this past spring, contacted me about taking part in the second NBU blog tour, I was more than happy to join in.
As I flipped through the copy I received, I knew it was going to be tough to choose where to start. Nuts and seeds are often the highlight of a dish for me, whether it’s cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, or that legume disguised as a nut, peanuts. So having over 100 options that include soups, appetizers, salads, side dishes, sandwiches, breakfast options, desserts, and main dishes wasn’t going to be easy!
The first recipe that I made from Nut Butter Universe was the Cold Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce. My husband and I were going to an outdoor music show, where everyone brings picnic fare, blankets, and lawn chairs. The cool, creamy noodles seemed like a nice change of pace from standard picnic staples. The recipe calls for linguine noodles because of their sturdiness, but rice noodles can be used instead to make them gluten free.
It’s called spicy peanut sauce, because of the cayenne in the recipe. However, I found it to be mild and pleasant. With the nutty peanut butter and toasted sesame oil, pungent rice vinegar, and salty tamari, the sauce was satisfying and well balanced. Added to the noodles were crunchy carrots, bell peppers, and more peanuts for extra texture. I added baked tofu to make it a bit heartier, using my standard baked tofu recipe with lime juice instead of lemon juice. I packed it in layers with the peanut noodles at the bottom, then the tofu, and then the peanuts, so that they would retain their crunch.
I’ll definitely be making this one again for a packed lunch option that doesn’t require reheating.
The next recipe I tried was the Vegetable-Cashew Korma (pictured above with veggie pakora). This Indian stew is made with a wide cornucopia of vegetables: potatoes, cauliflower, onions, garlic, jalapenos, spinach, green peas, and cilantro. (The recipe calls for two jalapenos, but I used one instead, and it was plenty hot.) It’s in a creamy sauce made from cashews and coconut milk.
Since stews usually do well in leftover form, I made the full batch, which serves six. (Although, after making it I think it would serve at least 8.) The recipe was fairly labor intensive, and unfortunately, not one of my favorites. It calls for a tablespoon of garam masala, which is a spice mix with cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (amongst other things). I typically see garam masala used in smaller amounts and put in at the end as a finishing spice. Because cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon are such strong warming spices, a little goes a long way. The other elements of the dish were good, but the heavy flavor of the garam masala overpowered. If I were to make it again, I’d use considerably less and/or use curry powder instead.
(Update: Robin contacted me after I published this post to let me know that there was a typo in the garam masala amounts. It should be listed as one teaspoon instead of one tablespoon. If you have a copy of this book, make sure to note the discrepancy. Robin let me know that when it’s reprinted in the future, the amount will be corrected.)
The final dish that I made was the Curried Almond Sweet Potato Soup. This velvety and satisfying soup was just perfect for the cooler fall temperatures we’ve been experiencing. I used my favorite curry powder in this soup chockfull of onions, garlic, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. The almond butter flavor didn’t stand out, but it did add extra creaminess.
My husband, who is a huge lover of sweet potatoes, curry, and almond butter, said this soup was the best one he has ever had. In addition to being a wonderful soup, it would also be a great sauce for a curry dish with chickpeas or cauliflower.
Fortuitously, you can try it for yourself, because the folks at Vegan Heritage Press have given permission for this recipe to be shared with Cadry’s Kitchen readers. (You can see the excerpted recipe below.)
The contest has closed! Congrats to Shari!
And that’s not all! Vegan Heritage Press is also offering a copy of Nut Butter Universe to be given away (for readers in the United States only). All you have to do is leave a note in the comments telling me about your favorite vegan recipe with nuts. Remember to include your email address, so that I have a way of contacting you! The contest closes at 12 am CST on September 30th. The winner will be chosen at random.
Curried Almond Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4 to 6
This soup has it all: great taste, vibrant color, and the creamy goodness of almond butter. For this recipe, I use Frontier brand organic curry powder, a heady blend of coriander, turmeric, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, and cloves, but most any curry spice blend should perform well. For a thinner soup, stir in a small amount of nondairy milk during the final heating.
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil or 1/4 cup water
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 5 cups vegetable broth or water
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2/3 cup almond butter
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, broth, and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the almond butter, curry powder, cayenne, and salt to taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth, or use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot. Heat the soup over low heat until hot. Serve sprinkled with the chopped almonds.
From Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson. ©2013 Robin Robertson. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press.
Disclaimer: I was given this book to review, but the thoughts and opinions are my own. I am an Amazon affiliate, and this post contains an Amazon link.