Everything I have made from it so far has been really good and crazy easy.
I think the secret to this book’s success is that Klein doesn’t try to force recipes to be vegan that weren’t vegan to begin with.
The only recipes that have tofu are Asian-style recipes which would have tofu in them anyway. There are no vegan substitutes in here either, so no soy milk or fake burger patties. And as it implies in the title, there’s no obscure ingredients in here either — no seitan or tempeh to be found. Everything can be found in virtually any supermarket.
And everything cooks super fast! All the recipes I’ve tried so far can easily be made on a busy weeknight.
Clockwise from the top: Greek Chickpeas and Rice (p. 102, which, okay, I de-veganized by adding feta cheese, but it was still good without it), Cuban Style Fried Rice with Pineapple (p. 113), Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon (p. 118), and Orzo with Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Basil (p. 85).
Also not pictured is the Pasta Puttanesca which is some of the best puttanesca sauce I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise, which I’ll share with you, if you’re thinking about picking up a copy of the book for yourself:
I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but NYC is a record-breaking 102 degrees today (and feels like 116 with the humidity). Leaving my air-conditioned bedroom to stand over a stove sounds like a suicide mission right now.
Here, instead, is a quick recap of some of my favorite recipes that involve absolutely no cooking at all:
Black bean soup — specifically, that recipe for black bean soup shown above — was one of the first things I ever taught myself to cook. Although I knew how to make a couple of simple things (eggs, beans and rice, lasagna), this was the first time I had cooked something just because it sounded good and not because I had ever eaten it before.
It did not let me down. Hearty and not-too-spicy, it immediately became part of my cooking repertoire, with a few tweaks here and there along the way.
For the past ten years, I’ve been pretty faithful to this recipe, from Vegetarian Times’ Low-Fat & Fast, but I think I’ve found the thing it’s been missing this whole time: chipotles — large jalapeño peppers that have been smoked and dried. I used the recipe for Smoky Black Bean Soup from How to Cook Everything, adapting it to what I had on hand, and it was sensational.
I’ve always been really put off by the idea of using chipotles before (the least of my concerns being the fact they look a bit like a discarded cigar butt) but the chipotle adds an incredible smoky note to this soup. I honestly wish I had known about these when I was still vegan and I craved the smokiness of a good bacon. Although I took the pepper back out of the soup before puréeing it, I think you maybe could leave it in for extra heat? I’m honestly not entirely sure — the mysteries of the chipotle still elude me.
Smoky black bean and roasted corn soup
Sauté an onion and a few cloves of minced garlic in small amount of oil or butter. When soft, add a tablespoon of chili powder and cook another minute or so. I added about 3 cups of beans plus 3 cups of cooking liquid from my favorite method of cooking beans, but you can use canned beans (plus liquid or stock). Add a good-sized chipotle to this, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Fish out the chipotle and purée with a stick (or regular) blender to the consistency you’d like. Stir in two cups of fire-roasted corn (I used Trader Joe’s frozen corn, but any kind would do), squeeze in about half a lime’s juice, and serve with sour cream or crema.
I hate to hear people trash-talk potatoes. I once had a friend sniff, “I don’t consider potatoes to even be a vegetable” and I rolled my eyes and flipped her off (which, okay, I could do because I was actually online chatting with her at the time). Potatoes, in my mind, are pretty much an absolute good and I feel rather protective towards them.
Remember a couple of years ago when food prices shot up and then suddenly staple grains were all crazy expensive, and there were protests and riots in parts of Africa and Asia over food prices? Well, that’s what globally-traded food commodities can get you.
Rice, wheat, and maize are the top three sources of carbohydrates in the world and they’re all subject to price fluctuations, but potatoes don’t keep well enough to ship very far, so they’re not globally traded—which is great news if you live in a developing country and you’re now royally screwed because rice/wheat/maize is now too expensive for you. Potatoes can be grown by almost anyone, anywhere, in any country. So long as you have dirt and people to water said dirt, you’ll get potatoes and you’ll get fed.
But here in the rest of the world (I hear you say), we don’t have that problem.
It was… good but really not great and I purposely didn’t include a recipe for it at the time, because I wasn’t that thrilled with the way it turned out. It was kind of runny and overly sweet.
I have since revamped the ingredients and method I tried originally and turned it into this post I wrote for my neighborhood paper, the Manhattan Times.
I’m pretty pleased with the results.
Better-than-Before Grape Pie
– 4-5 cups (about 2 pounds) of grapes (ideally Concords, but any variety will do)
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup instant tapioca pearls
– 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
– Pastry for a 9-inch pie (top and bottom crusts)
Wash the grapes and remove the skins. (Just pinch opposite the stem, and the pulp will pop right out.) Set the skins aside for now. Put the pulp into a heavy pan, bring it to a boil, and let it boil until the pulp starts to separate from the seeds. Remove the seeds by putting the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Pour the hot pulp over the skins and let the mixture sit for 6 hours or overnight.
Stir in the sugar and tapioca, set aside for about 20 minutes, then pour the mixture into the bottom pie crust and dot with butter. Put on the top crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook 20 minutes more until the crust is browned and the juice begins to bubble up. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Although I cook without meat a majority of the time, I am completely powerless when it comes to chicken thighs. Tender, juicy little pieces of meat on not-too-much bone, they’re virtually impossible to screw up — and even better, they’re almost always cheaper than other chicken pieces.
My favorite way to prepare chicken (or turkey) thighs is to make Filipino chicken adobo. There are about as many recipes for adobo as there are cooks, but they all rely on a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic, at least, and usually a little sugar, bay leaves and black pepper, too. After a fair amount of trial and error, here’s the recipe I use.
Chicken (or turkey or pork) adobo
Combine 1/2 cup mushroom soy sauce, 3/4 cup vinegar, 3 tablespoons honey, 3-5 cloves of minced garlic, 3-ish bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper with 1.5 cups water. Bring to a boil and add 3 pounds chicken thighs. Cover, and reduce to a simmer, adding more water if needed to keep the meat covered. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the sauce and set aside. At this point, you can fish out the bay leaves and bring the liquid to a boil until it reduces by at least half. Set a grill (or frying) pan on medium-high heat and grill each piece, skin-side down, until the skin is crisped. The sugar helps caramelize the skin but it will also help it burn faster, so watch out. Serve (with a little of the reduced sauce) over white rice or shredded cabbage or whatever suits you.
Some notes: this recipe is based on what I usually have on hand. The mushroom soy sauce isn’t exactly traditional, but because it’s so thick and dark, you can use much less and get the same result that you’d get with about a cup of regular soy sauce. I usually use cider or rice vinegar, but I’ve used red wine or even plain white vinegar in a pinch (just don’t use balsamic) and swap in any other sugar for the honey. (You could also use boneless and/or skinless thighs, but… meh.) Oh, and definitely make the whole three pounds of chicken because the leftovers are heavenly.
I come from a long, proud line of compulsive sale shoppers. Because I live in a 750-square-foot apartment, I simply don’t have the room to indulge my sale fetish as much as I could (unlike, say, my grandfather who would regularly send me home with cases of soda or several boxes of cereal he’d bought on sale and had tucked away) but I did recently buy a pound of strawberries and two pints of blackberries which were going cheap at the supermarket.
It didn’t seem like a lot of fruit at the time… until it started to languish in the fridge. It got to a point where it was not exactly at its peak of freshness, but not really compost scraps yet either. I also had a pile of fresh mint that appeared to be headed down the same road and I knew there had to be a way to combine the two.
I had taken this month’s Martha Stewart Living (whose usual purpose is to remind me anew each month how much domestic shit I will never, ever manage to do) to the park with me one afternoon, and there it was: a recipe for fruit syrup. Using that as a general guide, I came up with this:
Combine 3 cups berries with 1/4 cup water and 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for at least 10 minutes (or longer if you want a thicker syrup). As it simmers, crush berries with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Once syrup is the consistency you want, turn off the heat and add 2-3 sprigs of mint, then let cool. Use a mesh strainer to strain out the seeds and pulp. Makes about 2 cups.
Although it’s runnier than honey, it’s about the same level of sweetness, and I’ve been using it in place of honey in a number of things — tea, yogurt, etc. — but my favorite use has to be combining a couple tablespoons of syrup with some ice and seltzer.
Oh yeah. Summer can not get here soon enough.