Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You get this beautiful new cookbook. You flip through each page, dog-ear a ton of recipes that look “omg so good”…and then you put it on a shelf and forget about it.
Hi, my name is Alexa, and I never ever cook from my cookbooks.
I have so many cookbooks. Books from bloggers! Books from cooking show personalities! Books from random people I’ve never heard of before!
When I need a new recipe, I search online or make something up and go about my day. Or I resort to my old stand-by of brown rice, some sort of roasted veg, and chickpeas. aka. the meal I have approximately 5 times per week.
But there are pages upon pages of yum calling to me from my bookshelf, crying out, “EAT FROM ME!” and just waiting for their time to shine.
So! We’re starting a new series here on the blog called, “A Week of Meals.”
The premise is super simple: I’ll get a plant-based / vegan cookbook (or choose one that’s currently collecting dust on my bookshelf), actually cook things from it, and then write about it!
My hopes with this new series are:
- It gets me out of my food funk and gets me to try new weeknight recipes and inspires you to branch out and try new recipes
- It helps you figure out which cookbooks you might want to check out if you or someone you know are vegan-curious
- Actually use the cookbooks I have and inspire you to do the same!
I’m so flipping excited about this new series, and we honestly couldn’t have started with a more beautiful book than Food52 Vegan.
Here are the deets:
Title: Food52 Vegan – 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen
Author: Gena Hamshaw (from The Full Helping)
Number of Recipes: 60
Sections/Chapters: Breakfast, Appetizers & Snacks, Soups, Salads, Main Dishes, Desserts, Basics
Recipes You’ll Wanna Make ASAP:
· Date Nut Bread – pg. 11
· Miso Soup – pg. 53
· Greek Salad with Tofu Feta – pg. 63
· Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese – pg. 85
· Penne with Summer Squash, Corn, and Herbs – pg. 81
· Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Filling and Ganache – pg. 129
Fooduzzi Rating: 4.75/5
Purchase: on Amazon →
If you’re not super familiar with Food52, go here and be prepared to drool everywhere. I love Food52’s photography style, so as soon as I saw that they published a vegan cookbook, I was all over it.
The author, Gena, is known for, not only her own food blog, but for the column she writes for Food52, New Veganism. Pretty freakin’ awesome, right? Running your own successful blog and writing for the awesome folks at Food52. Gena, you’re a super star.
I bought this cookbook fairly recently at the advice of my friend, Gretchen, and when it came, I did my typical “I just got a new cookbook” dance and sat down and read it cover-to-cover.
The photos are beautiful. With the exception of some of the Basics at the back of the book (think: nut milk, nut cheese, etc.), each and every recipe is accompanied by a photo. I so appreciate this because if a recipe doesn’t have a picture, there’s no way I’d make it. It’s just not happening.
There’s a reason they say we, “eat with our eyes.” Just sayin’.
So! Because I knew that I wanted this cookbook to be the very first I reviewed, I quickly started making a list of some of the recipes that sounded interesting, doable on a weeknight/weekday, and a bit out of our norm.
Most of the recipes are totally suited for weeknight/weekday prep. Especially if you do a few things ahead of time like make a big batch of quinoa or roast some veggies.
But to be completely honest, because the recipes are fairly straightforward, Mark and I weren’t super blown away at first glance. Mark, a non-vegan, especially. I mean, everything looked beautiful, but there were only a few where we were like, “Ooh I bet you that is so good.”
Spoiler alert: we’d soon be eating our words. Quite literally.
We ended up trying:
Date Nut Bread – pg. 11
So this recipe came from the recommendation of Gretchen. She looooved it. Like, loved it. So, as a date and carb lover, I knew I had to give it a go.
It’s pretty much your standard “quick bread” (aka. no yeast), sans eggs. The toughest thing was taking the pits out of the medjool dates.
I had to bake the bread a good bit longer than the recommended 35-40 minutes, but it came out dark brown and smelling like pretzels. It doesn’t taste like pretzels, but it definitely smelled like a fresh-baked caramelized pretzel. So yum.
I liked it! I thought it was maybe a tad too sweet for me (medjool dates are pretty sweet on their own, and there’s a whopping 1 and 1/2 cups in the recipe), but I really enjoyed the texture and date-walnut combo so much.
That said, Mark LOVED this recipe. Hardcore. I don’t think he’s ever eaten a date in his life, but he loves this bread. It was a huge win.
When I make it again (yes, when!), I’ll make sure to break up the dates a bit more so they’re better dispersed through the bread. That was a rookie mistake on my part. A delicious mistake because, hello, giant clumps of caramely date goodness are never a bad thing, but visually, I think I would have preferred to break them up a bit.
Sesame Flax Crackers – pg. 33
Three cheers for homemade crackers! I’m constantly snacky, and because I work from home, I have the luxury/curse of being able to go to the pantry every 5 seconds if I want.
So! I’m always looking for healthy snacks that can satisfy my cravings in a healthy way. Enter: these crackers.
They are so freaking easy to make, and they require only six ingredient (one of which is water).
They taste great, the texture is super seedy and fun, and they’re awesome in hummus.
Again, I had to bake these quite a bit longer than instructed (note to self: get an oven thermometer), but dang they were good.
Again, Mark was a fan.
Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce – pg. 41
Alright, classify this under “Dinners I’d Never In a Million Years Think to Cook on a Weeknight.” Also under “Food that Looks Silly in Photographs Unless Food52 is Photographing Them.”
I’ve never made spring rolls before in my life. I like them, of course – thin, soft rice paper wrappers, fresh veg, epic dipping sauce -, but I’ve just never had the desire to make them at home.
Not only that, this recipe was even more intriguing to me because it required me to buy two new-to-me ingredients: the rice paper wraps (I found them at Whole Foods, but any mega mart should have them) and jicama.
Jicama is a weird little veggie that kind of reminds me of a water chestnut. It’s crisp, kinda juicy, and just…fresh. I found a pack of pre-cut jicama at Trader Joe’s (score!), and it worked perfect for these spring rolls.
The spring rolls are filled with fresh herbs (basil and cilantro – I swapped the cilantro for mint because my store was out of cilantro (?)), crisp veggies (the aforementioned jicama, cucumber, and red cabbage), and avocado. I’d love to bulk them up next time with some rice vermicelli noodles and maybe some tofu, but as a light summery dinner, these really hit the spot.
It’s served with a gingery peanut sauce, which I doctored up with a bit of sriracha.
Again, much to my surprise, Mark loved these. That’s three-for-three from a non-vegan, folks! I loved them too. They were super fresh and perfect for summer. Totally making these again soon.
Greek Salad with Tofu Feta – pg. 63
OMG. Can that just be my review of this recipe? O-M-G.
One of my favorite vegan recipes ever. Not kidding. I was completely and totally blown away by this recipe.
I’m always a fan of a tomato-cucumber-onion-olive salad with a simple vinaigrette; we had it all the time growing up, and it’s just such a great way to use up fresh summer veggies.
That said, the tofu feta in this book is outrageous. I don’t even get it. How can tofu become feta? How?!
You have to marinate the tofu feta for a day or two so that it becomes crumbly like regular feta, but dang girl. It’s so good.
Luckily for you, this recipe is coming to the blog later this week!! Stay tuned.
Penne with Summer Squash, Corn, and Herbs – pg. 81
Because Mark’s dad is a literal saint, we’ve been swimming in fresh produce all summer – specifically, zucchini.
I, for one, could eat zucchini all day long. I love it simply sautéed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, or marinated in something like this.
But Mark was getting sick of the same ol’ same ol’, so when I saw this recipe using zucchini in a different way, I was all-in.
My only [tiny] gripe about this recipe is that it requires you to roast the vegetables at a pretty high temperature. It gets hot and muggy and gross in Pittsburgh in the summer, and I never want to turn on my oven. That said, it was worth it, and I’m pretty sure you could just sauté all of the veggies on the stove and be completely fine.
It was such a simple recipe, and we really enjoyed it. I added some cannellini beans for some protein, as well as a good shake of my salty Vegan Parmesan and red pepper flakes, and it was super satisfying. Yum yum.
We did some snacky things, as well as some meals. Because we’re a household of two and a floof, most of the recipes gave us leftovers that we ate for a day or two afterwards, which I really appreciated. Especially in the summer when I don’t ever want to cook.
But man, I was so tickled with how everything we tried turned out. The fact that Mark was such a fan is also a huge testament to the quality of the recipes. He doesn’t sugar-coat things, and he’ll totally let you know if he doesn’t like something.
My biggest takeaway from this book is that just because something is simple, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t taste amazing. And honestly? I think that the fact that most of the recipes in Food52 Vegan are super simple is one of the most appealing things about the book.
Vegan cooking can tend to be a bit…over the top sometimes. Like requiring weird ingredients or ingredient lists that are literally a mile long.
Food52 Vegan isn’t that, and now that I’ve cooked from it, that’s one of my favorite things about it. The recipes are approachable, even for non-vegans (in fact, Mark’s non-vegan mom made the Penne with Summer Squash last week!!).
The recipes are simple, full of fresh, good-for-you ingredients, and I’m just such a fan.
I can’t wait to dive into the Soup chapter when it starts getting cooler outside, and I’m so freaking excited to make the brownies, you have no idea.
I’d fo’sho recommend Food52 Vegan for seasoned vegans and vegan-curious alike. So much plant-based yum happening here!
So! Thoughts on this series? Have you tried anything from this cookbook? What’s the next cookbook I should review?
ps. There are affiliate links in this post, and all money generated from said links will be put directly into making more plant-based yum here on Fooduzzi!
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