Cookbook Challenge 2 - Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Cookbook Challenge II - VEGANOMICON!!!

For the second week of CCII, one of the most widely known and well revered vegan cookbooks made its way into my kitchen. Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook is what I like to call the rebellious younger sister to Irma Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking. Moskowitz and Romero of The Post Punk Kitchen have at it in this all-encompassing, over-achieving bookshelf staple. With nearly 50 pages devoted to kitchen gadgets, stocking the vegan pantry and vegetable/grain/bean cooking how-to's, this truly is the ultimate vegan cookbook. Oh, the 250+ vegan recipes might also have something to do with it.

Upon it's publication, I remember hanging out at the local bookstore while I waited for my then-boyfriend to get out of work. I'd pick up a copy of Veganomicon and read it, cover-to-cover, but never had enough money in my pocket to help me bring a copy home (bah, unemployment!). Eventually I saved up enough quarters and it was aaaallll mine. Since then, I've discovered some of my favorite meals and have made them repetitiously. Though to be honest, I've only made a handful of the recipes in this book because the first ones I tried were so amazing, and I never saw the need to try something new! Well, that changed this week. I selected three recipes I've never tried, but were well received within the vegan (and omnivorous) community!

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango Peaches

I'm a huge fan of grain & bean salads. They're more filling and add a lot of depth and flavor to the monotonous leafy green salad. When I saw the recipe for the Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango, I was hooked. I ended up subbing the mango with defrosted peaches (from this past summer - so sweet and juicy!) and unfortunately had to omit the fresh cilantro as a result of absent-minded grocery shopping. The salad had every sort of sensation your mouth could fathom without being overwhelming. Sweet and savory are a wonderful pairing; here they are harmoniously tied with rice vinegar, grapeseed oil (I used olive) and salt for a hearty combination of soft, crunchy, sweet, and salty.

Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad

In an effort to juxtapose my gluttonous eating of prior days, I opted for another wholesome salad. The Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad was ridiculously easy to make and kept me full for hours. Edamame is loaded with protein and is ready to eat in under a minute - buy it shelled and frozen for those nights when you only have time to boil water! The dressing is a nutty and salty combination of sesame oil, rice vinegar and tamari (or soy sauce), all of which are relatively inexpensive (considering how little is used per serving in most recipes), especially at Asian markets. I added diced red onion and shared this with some new friends at a vegan potluck! It keeps well and is great served cold or at room temperature - perfect for traveling, picnics or workday lunches.

The final recipe that I selected is one of Veganomicon's most famous; Chickpea Cutlets have been popping up all over the vegan blogosphere since the book's release. I have no good excuse for not making them until now, so I won't even waste your time. They were as wonderful as I anticipated.

Chickpea Cutlets, mashed sweet potatoes, steamed green beans

Now that is my kind of meat-and-potatoes dinner. Not the traditional typical American meal, but so much more flavorful than any I've ever had. The chickpea cutlets were very "meaty" due to the vital wheat gluten - a natural protein found in wheat used to improve the texture and elasticity of bread, also the main ingredient in seitan - and packed with fiber AND flavor (who knew?!). I opted for the baked method instead of pan-frying to cut out some fat. These were wonderful and my only complaint is that I didn't triple the recipe. The firm yet moist cutlets were perfectly crispy and had a really robust flavor. They were mellow enough to be served in a myriad of ways - my next batch will be devoted to a vegan Po'boy and I'll season it appropriately (Matt said so). I served this batch with steamed green beans and Indian mashed sweet potatoes - made Indian by the leftover  dal saag (lentil/spinach dish) from a friend's birthday dinner.

Three more recipes down, and I've barely unearthed the magnificence that is the ultimate vegan cookbook - Veganomicon. Tune in next week for the third installment of CCII - The Urban Vegan: 250 Simple, Sumptuous Recipes, From Street Cart Favorites to Haute Cuisine.


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