Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Speed Vegan - Cookbook Review

Everything we have tasted from Speed Vegan has been very enjoyable. Besides the good tastes, one of my favorite things about this book is the personality. The titles are pretty straight forward, labeled for what they are, but it's the introductions and descriptions for each dish that entertain. Roettinger might tell a little story of how the dish came to be or tell you why he thinks a dish is tasty. I enjoyed these little snippets :)

In general, the recipes from start to finish have been speedy to make. As for ingredients, you must plan ahead. Though they are listed in the "Stocking the Vegan Pantry" section, many recipes included one or two ingredients that I do not regularly have on hand. So speedy, yes, as long as you have all of the ingredients ahead of time. Right after the pantry section are the "Jump Starts," which include recipes for other pantry items to stock. How cool! One other thing I'll mention, there is huge salad section, almost 50 pages worth. I'm really not much of a salad eater and it takes much convincing for me to remember that I do enjoy them (usually by eating one someone else has served me ;) But for those of you that do salads, there are plenty of options here.

Everything we tried took 30 minutes or less to prepare, that includes chopping veggies and all prep. I'm not very good about pulling everything I need out of the cabinets before I begin, so it even makes time for that ;)

The color images are tasty, but the black and white images I could do without. I don't think they add much to the book and many of them look a little grainy and unimpressive (perhaps due to printing). If you have flipped through this book and had similar thoughts, making you question the book's quality, I would suggest that you give this one a second chance. Once you have gathered the ingredients and made a few recipes, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Since this book is about the speed, I will list approximate cooking times for each dish, based on my experience. Sample recipes can be found on Alan Roettinger's website, the author of Speed Vegan.

Glass Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Start - Finish ~ 30 min.
Haha...know what I said about salads? Well, I was being honest. Although, pasta salads are more likely to catch my eye. But we didn't eat this one as a salad. We couldn't find any glass noodles (or mung bean threads) and decided to warm this dish up with sprouted wheat noodles instead.

Often I am disappointed by the heat level of "spicy" dishes in cookbooks, but this one was pleasantly spicy. Not hot enough to need a sip of water between every bite, but enough to enjoy and recognize it as a spicy dish.

We substituted sprouted noodles for the glass noodles and cashew butter for the peanut butter. We may have added a little more garlic as well; I used 3-4 cloves. The cucumbers made this dish fresh and crisp, and every ingredient in the sauce blended to leave my mouth savoring each component. If you like to tweak recipes as you go, I would definitely recommend trying the sauce "as is" on the first round. Other things that would go great in this dish: green onions and avocado.

Tofu and Soba Noodles with Hot-Sweet-Sour-Pungent Sauce
Start - Finish ~ less than 20 min.
It has been many months since we made this dish. But what I can tell you is, we liked it so much that it became a quick meal staple. We just wore this one out and haven't added it back into the rotation.

Hominy Hash
Start - Finish ~ 25 min.
Do you gaze with longing at small diners wishing there was something on the menu for you? Does your mouth start to water when you hear the words "homestyle cookin'?" If so, then this might be a dish for you. A different take on the traditional hash, this one uses hominy instead of potatoes and smothers the whole dish in tomato paste. It's really great. This was my first time (to my memory) that I have every eaten hominy and it will not be the last. And since it's so cold outside, it seems only fair to post the recipe so that your belly can be overwhelmed with a warm, filling happy feeling.

We did not make the garlic oil, or have any on hand, and I have no doubt that it would have been a spectacular addition. The dish is good, either way. We actually used 2 cans of hominy, one white and one golden. We used a 6 oz. can of tomato paste. For the sausages we made a black bean version of a recipe from Vegan Brunch and we would happily do it again ;)

Thanks to the kind folks at BPC, I get to share this recipe with you. Enjoy!

Hominy Hash
4 Tbl. olive oil
4 (3 oz.) vegan Italian sausages
1 red onion
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 can (15 oz) white hominy
1/2 c. tomato paste
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
2 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. Garlic oil
Sriracha sauce (optional - but I highly recommend it!)

Put 2 Tbl. of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook, stirring constantly until it has browned lightly (about 2 min.). Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 2 Tbl. of olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring constatly for 1 - 2 min., or until softened. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 min. Add the hominy and cook fo 2 min. Add the tomato puree, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan, decrease the heat to medium, and cook for 5 min., or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the sausage and parsley, stirring well until the mixture has warmed through. Serve at once with garlic oil and Sriracha sauce on the side.


Anonymous said...

What a great revie, thank you! The hash sounds amazing, thanks for sharing the recipe.

blessedmama said...

Excellent review. I also like it when the author makes recipes more interesting by adding a personal snippet at the beginning.

River (Wing-It Vegan) said...

I am not a big salad person either, but pasta salads are different! This book looks really good, and I love cookbooks that little personal snippets by the authors!

Thank you for sharing the Hominy Hash recipe! :)