As you know from prior posts, I’m not vegan. But when I got an offer to review a vegan cookbook, I had an epiphany. I eat fruits, vegetables, grains, and pasta. And I love cookbooks. So I grabbed the chance. Good call!
Alan Roettinger’s cookbook, Extraordinary Vegan, is my first vegan cookbook but it won’t be my last. He starts by sharing a list of “extraordinary ingredients for your everyday kitchen” — with recommendations for pantry staples like chiles and chile powders, dried herbs and spices, fats, seeds, flavorings, and sweeteners. A set of fundamental recipes follows. I learned how to “fake” the aging of balsamic vinegar — by reducing it to concentrate its flavors — and how to preserve lemons. And I’m now addicted to roasted hazelnuts.
The book is extremely well-written and easy to follow. Each vegan recipe is accompanied by nutritional information, and many are supplemented by tips and links to videos of the author demonstrating them. A small set are illustrated by really beautiful photos. My greatest discovery was that many of these vegan recipes will appeal to three of the pickiest, meat-and-potato eaters on the planet — my husband and stepdaughters. I’m pretty sure even they will eat high-protein essene bread, tomatillo guacamole, and corn, potato, and leek soup with huitlacoche. We are all trying to eat better. (I haven’t tested this theory, but I’ll keep you posted.)
I’ve been graciously granted permission to print a couple of recipes, so read on for some vegan inspiration.
Poor Man’s Aged Balsamic Vinegar
4 cups balsamic vinegar
Put the vinegar in a 2-quart enamel, glass, or stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vinegar is reduced to 2-1/2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour the vinegar into a glass container and let cool. Sealed tightly and stored at room temperature, the vinegar will keep indefinitely.
Extraordinary Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar or Poor Man’s Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup flax oil
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put the vinegar, mustard, optional lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Add the flax oil and olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing has emulsified. Stored in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator, the dressing will keep for about 1 week.
To all you non-vegans out there, embrace the opportunity to give vegan recipes a try. A good cookbook is a good cookbook — vegan or otherwise. And Extraordinary Vegan is a damn good cookbook. You can buy it on Amazon.
Image Credit: www.alanroettinger.com