I am in love.
This feeling came along delightfully unexpectedly. One afternoon we met through a friend and instantly, I knew it was meant to be. Sigh…
Meet my love:
Thank you Tina Scheftelowitz and Christine Billi Nielsen for creating Vegetarian with a Vengeance.
When this book initially came out, it created rather a bit of uproar in the vegan community due to it’s very similar name to Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Moskowitz. The book is in no way related, it is apparently just a coincidence due to the Danish-English Translation of the book title. As much as I understand where the Moskowitz fans (and Moskowitz herself) are coming from, and don’t understand why the publishers chose to use this title in English, I think it’s unfortunate that the situation has turned people off the book itself.
I really love this cookbook. Enough to write a gushing post about it. And enough that I couldn’t make do with borrowing Matt’s copy and had to buy my own. Right away.
What’s so good about it, you ask? For starters, just know that the cover doesn’t do this book justice. Perhaps a burger was chosen to appeal to the veg-curious meat-eaters out there and it does look tasty but there are many much more impressive photos and interesting meal ideas in the book. I am not a fan of the cover design as a whole, including the slightly juvenile font chosen. BUT…
Inside, the page design is cute and quirky, with sketches and scribbles complimenting some absolutely stunning food photography. I get disappointed when I pick up a cookbook and there are only pictures on every fifth or sixth page but here, each page is bright and interesting. If there’s not a photo, there are sketches and notes from the writers. There isn’t one set style or page layout design throughout the book; each page is creative and well thought-out. It’s the kind of cookbook that makes me want to try every single recipe because of its amazing accompanying photo or delicious-sounding name!
And of course, there are the recipes themselves. The book is filled with inventive, fresh takes on everything from quinoa burgers (cover photo) to mango sushi to innovative packed lunch ideas. There are plenty of vegan recipes throughout and many “almost vegan” recipes where the writers provide suggestions for vegan variations or ingredient substitutions.
That brings me to another thing I love about the book – the recipes aren’t simply cut and dry. Many have suggestions for several different variations to experiment with. The quinoa burger can also be made using the mushroom-nut recipe from the book and the vegetable pie can be changed up in countless ways to suit your taste. There’s low-fat versions of recipes, summer and winter variations and fast or slow-cook options. In a way, you’re getting two to three times the amount of recipes from the book than it first appears!
This is one of those encyclopaedic vegetarian cookbooks that contains not only recipes but helpful sections like a seasonal vegetable guide, menu plans (including “a meat eater comes for dinner”), a help section (“Help! I cannot be bothered to explain that I am vegetarian” and “Help! I have fallen in love with a meat-eater” are two of my favourites), and “The best ever tips for beans” to name a few.
So far, I have tried two dishes from the book. Firstly, the (made by Matt) Vegetable Lover’s Everyday Pie, which was a delicious cross between a quiche and a pie. The thin crust is relatively low-fat compared to most pastries and the filling uses the low-fat options of creme fraiche, sour cream or Greek yoghurt, so you don’t even have to feel guilty after indulging! The curry powder added a nice kick a gave the pie a brilliant yellow hue.
Last night I made the Leek and Gorgonzola Lasagne. Unlike a traditional lasagne, this is not a dish that is layered, heavily covered in sauce and then baked; you halve the lasagne sheets and then cook it like you would any other pasta – just boil in water – and then layer the pasta sheets and two sauces (tomato sauce and cheese sauce) on the plate. It creates a light alternative to the traditional dish and was, quite simply, delicious.
Next up, I am dying to try the Turbo Hummus made from split peas, the Cones of Seaweed with Quinoa and Avocado Cream and the Chickpea Pancakes (all vegan).
The only negative aspect about the book is I think that a few things may have got a little lost in translation. For instance, in the leek and Gorgonzola lasagne, leeks are not actually listed in the ingredients list! We had finished frying the tomatoes and onions for the tomato sauce when I realised and hurriedly chucked the leeks in the pan. But the translation was never lost enough that we couldn’t work out where we went wrong!
This book doesn’t fall into the trap of just turning traditional meat dishes vegetarian; every recipe in here is a stand-out dish in it’s own right. It is not just a book for the committed vegetarian but is great for anyone looking to incorporate more meat-free dishes into their diet, or really just anyone just looking to create great, healthy food.
You can buy Vegetarian with a Vengeance from the usual outlets – good bookstores, Amazon and The Book Depository to name a few. The RRP is £14.99 but it’s dropped in price since I bought it (damn!) and is currently just over £10 (or local currency equivalent) at The Book Depository. Score!