When I saw Terry Hope Romero speak at Vida Vegan Con last year, she said that when she’s looking for inspiration in cooking, she ventures outside of the vegan realm. She reads non-vegan cookbooks, studies cuisines from other cultures, looks at restaurant trends and cooking shows. By examining what other people are doing in the world of food, she can take it and put her own vegan spin on it.
Her cookbook, Vegan Eats World, is the perfect example of that philosophy. The cookbook, which came out in 2012, offers a wealth of global options to the tune of 300 recipes. With each recipe she asks, “What if this was a vegan world? How would a culture’s traditional flavors translate to plant-based fare? Sometimes it’s a natural fit with things like vegetable heavy Ethiopian stews and sometimes it takes creative license with things like gyro-roasted seitan.
Her philosophy has certainly benefitted me. One thing I’ve appreciated about Terry’s work over the years is not only that she creates such interesting, multi-dimensional recipes but also that I feel like I get an education in other food traditions. Plus, her cookbooks consistently deliver amazing, restaurant-quality recipes that have expanded my cooking repertoire and my spice rack.
I was a recipe tester for Vegan Eats World, and so it has been a cookbook I’ve been using in one form or another for years now. So when the publisher, Da Capo Press, contacted me about a review of the new soft cover release, I felt more than equipped to handle it! (They are also offering a copy of the book to one lucky reader at the end of this post!)
The cover is different from the hardcover original, but otherwise, everything else inside has stayed the same. It is still loaded with lots of big, colorful photos of mouthwatering food.
For the purpose of a review, it seemed like a good excuse to make some of the recipes that have been on my “must try” list since the hardcover book came out. Number one on that list was Sauerkraut Mushroom soup (ShChi). I am an enormous sauerkraut fan, but I had never experienced sauerkraut in soup form. Needless to say, I was intrigued by this Russian-inspired dish!
Terry recommends using high-quality sauerkraut sold in jars in the refrigerated section for this recipe, and so I opted for my favorite sauerkraut from Gold Mine. Even after cooking, I knew it would keep its crunch. The soup is made with mushrooms, leeks, carrots, and celery in a vegetable broth with white wine. I had a chance to use a lot of forgotten spices from my spice rack like caraway seeds and marjoram.
This soup was well balanced with a mix of flavors that reminded me of drinking a reuben. It was topped with sour dilly cream made from non-dairy yogurt, Vegenaise, garlic, and dill, which added a creamy, cool brightness to the soup. If you’d like to try it yourself, the ShChi recipe is available on Isa Chandra’s website.
The next new-to-me recipe was for Toasted Hazelnut Crunch Dip (Dukka). I’ve had Dukka in the past, most memorably used as a topping on one of the most delicious hummus platters I’ve ever tasted. Dukka is an Egyptian blend of roasted nuts and toasted spices. I remember how it added a nutty extra dimension to the creamy spread.
The only thing that had kept me from making it was that it seemed a bit involved for something that was only going to be used as a topping. It’s typically served with extra virgin olive oil as a dipping sauce for bread. The recipe involves roasting whole hazelnuts, removing their skins, toasting spices like cumin, fennel, coriander, and caraway, and then grinding them with smoked salt.
After one bite, I was immediately kicking myself for waiting this long to make it! This recipe was so worth the effort, and it makes 1 ½ cups of dukka, which is enough to last a very long time. I had to go back again and again for one more bite of the salty, crunchy mix of varied flavors and spices.
I served it with one of my Vegan Eats World favorites. This Greek Village Salad with Cashew Faux Feta (Horiatiki Salad) is one that I make fairly regularly, particularly in the summer. It’s a tomato and cucumber salad that is topped with raw cashews that have marinated in lemon juice, vinegar, olive brine, minced garlic, and spices. I often make the cashew feta on its own for topping salads. Along with its marinating brine, it makes for a delicious alternative to standard dressing. While it’s not similar in texture to animal-based feta, it has a bite and tang that makes me want to grab a spoon and eat it all on its own. (And yes, I have been known to sneak bites straight out of the refrigerator.)
To finish off the salad, I made the gyro-roasted seitan. It is another beloved recipe in the book. In addition to being terrific on salad, it’s wonderful in a pita or tortilla wrap with cucumbers and tomatoes or served with roasted lemony potatoes.
As a big fan of all things tangy and garlicky, I fell for hard for this seitan that was roasted with lemon juice, white wine, six cloves of garlic, and spices. It filled the house with so many mouthwatering aromas and made it smell amazing. (I used the white seitan from Viva Vegan for this dish. Not only was it the first seitan I ever made from scratch, it’s also a totally foolproof recipe. I’ve made it many, many times over the years, and it always comes out like a dream.)
I had a bit of user error as the recipe involves toasting chickpea flour, removing it from a skillet, then using the same skillet to sauté shallots and chilies with niter kibbeh (infused oil), and finally emptying the skillet again to make a polenta-like mixture with chickpea flour, water, and lemon juice. Our stovetop runs very hot, and after all of that use, the skillet was so warm that the water cooked down immediately and the flour made a very thick roux. I added more water to the skillet, but was left more or less with cooked chickpea dough balls. The flavor was still fine, but I don’t feel like I got an authentic experience of what this recipe is like. I plan on trying it again in the future and switching out skillets when it comes time to make the chickpea flour mixture, so that there is time for the flour to be fully absorbed.
Some of my other favorite recipes in Vegan Eats World include:
The Savory Baked Tofu is my one of my top choices for Asian stir-fries. Pineapple Fried Rice with a Thai Kick is a fabulous restaurant-quality recipe that is also terrific with rice noodles instead of rice. (Just toss the noodles with a smidge of sesame oil after draining to avoid clumping.) The seitan tibs simmered in berbere and wine (seitan tibs w’et) is full of richness and umami and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at an Ethiopian restaurant. The Artichoke Skillet Paella with Chorizo Tempeh Crumbles was also a big hit at our house.
These items are still high on my to-make list:
Preserved lemons, potato pierogies with fried onions, yogurt naan griddle bread, steamed barbecue seitan buns (char siu seitan bao), scrambled tofu breakfast bahn mi, French socca, and crispy plantains with chocolate mole dip.