Food

Food

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Cookbook review: Craving Vegan by Sam Turnbull

Baking sheet of battered fried oyster mushrooms that look like fried chicken

Vegan eating, living and cooking has taken a seat at many people’s tables in recent years, whether they follow a devout diet, like to incorporate it into Meatless Mondays or to align with environmental and sustainable lifestyle choices. While I’m not a vegan, I am certainly trying to include more plant-based meals into my weekly rotation so was delighted to come across Sam Turnbull’s third book, Craving Vegan. As in her first two books — Fuss-Free Vegan: 101 Everyday Comfort Food Favorites, Veganized and Fast Easy Cheap Vegan — Turnbull has a keen eye to accessibility and ease, no doubt to draw us non-vegans in with drool-worthy recipes that are aspirational but not at all intimidating. In fact, Turnbull makes trying vegan cuisine fun. She even makes cheese-making seem easy!

If you don’t cook vegan exclusively, your pantry may be lacking some of the harder-to-find ingredients like black salt and spirulina. So I was excited to see that most of the ingredients used in her recipes aren’t niche. The book is outlined to draw you in with recipes that are organized by craving like “Carby”, “Creamy” and “Crunchy.” Turnbull takes the time to explain how these crave-worthy textures can be achieved without using dairy, eggs or meat, which is really interesting to learn. The book is gorgeously photographed, and stays open to the recipes (nothing worse than a book that won’t lay flat!). One of the things I loved the most is that Turnbull gives great tips on making food ahead and how to freeze recipes for use at a later time. 

Here are the recipes that I tested and recommend. The publisher was kind enough to include a few for you to try. Click the links to see the full recipe. Happy plant-based cooking. – Bonnie 

Cookbook cover of sam turnbull's craving vegan

Saucy Spaghetti Bake, page 55

If you’re trying to incorporate more plant-based dinners into your weekly rotation, I think this is the one to start with. Not only is it a fun science experiment — dry spaghetti cooking in the oven! — but it’s really tasty, especially with the addition of the Creamy Alfredo Sauce topping. Full disclosure, when I made this, I did not tell my family it was vegan and they didn’t even notice. They even asked for seconds.

Creamy Linguini Alfredo, page 119

Truthfully, I have never been a fan of Alfredo anything. It’s just too rich and too heavy for me. This version, however, was a revelation. I absolutely LOVED it! And if you make enough, you can also make the Saucy Spaghetti Bake (see above) and the Three-Cheese Pizza on page 97. Three recipes for one!

Creamy Sunflower Spinach Dip, page 120

Admit it, we all love a good hot dip and this one does not disappoint. In fact, with the use of soaked sunflower seeds, you even get to feel good about eating it. I loved the tip about making this ahead and freezing for up to four months. Make it now and eat it while you watch the Superbowl or the Oscars or save it for hosting holiday gatherings. 

Tofu Tikka Masala, page 129

Honestly, this came together so quickly and is the perfect weeknight meal. By the time the rice was cooked, the sauce was ready to go. Beautiful and full of flavour, this one is now on repeat. In fact, the last time I made it, I doubled the recipe, as it freezes extremely well. 

Buttermilk Fried Oyster Mushrooms, page 150

I learned something very cool with this recipe: oyster mushrooms are stringy with a perfect mouthfeel that totally can sub in as vegan fried “chicken”. I’m not lying to you when I tell you that these were delicious. The only thing that I wish was that there was a recipe for the dip shown in the picture. Since there wasn’t, I ended up putting these gems on a crusty roll with vegan mayo, lettuce and heirloom tomatoes for what was an extremely satisfying sandwich. Get the recipe: Buttermilk Fried Oyster Mushrooms

Spicy Peanut Noodles, page 188

Plant-based meals are great for the animals, but they’re also great for the planet. And this slurpy recipe has become our clean-out-the-fridge, zero-waste, go-to supper. With the addition of a few frozen veggies — we like corn or edamame —it really is packed with nutritional goodness. And the peanut sauce? I could just drink it!

Sausage Bolognese, page 200

If you have a tofu-skeptic in your family, this may be the recipe to change that. I had never ‘dried’ tofu in the oven for a recipe, but that technique along with the sautéed mushrooms and the addition of fennel seeds really mimics ground meat — Italian sausage, in particular — incredibly well. Get the recipe: Sausage Bolognese

Crunch Wrap Superior, page 202

Walnut ‘meat’. This recipe had me at walnut ‘meat’. The combo of walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, smoky paprika and a bit of sweetness from maple syrup all combine to make a really toothsome filling for this wrap. Note you have to make the Super Simple Queso on page 89 in order to complete this recipe but it’s well worth the effort. And P.S. the cheese sauce is so tasty you’ll have no trouble finishing off any left overs.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombs p. 233

The easiest way to satisfy a sweet tooth craving is with this super-easy and healthy snack. I must admit, in addition to using salted peanuts as she recommends, I also added a few grains of flaky sea salt to bump up the salt-to-sweet ratio. To me, these tasted like a fudgy, caramelly, crunchy chocolate bar. Absolutely a game-changer in the chocolate snack department. Get the recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombs

Chocolate Pudding Cake on p. 237

Perhaps I’m late to the pudding cake game, but I was very doubtful about the method as described. I mean pouring hot water over a batter and then baking it? I can assure you the results yield a wonderfully moist and gooey cake that would be the perfect way to end any family dinner or celebrate a birthday. 

Stay tuned for my next cookbook reviews. Until then, may your meals always be delicious! 

a man carrying two children

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