Welcome to the kick start of Mouthwatering Vegan’s Canadian tour!
I was offered a review copy of Mouthwatering Vegan, and like any time someone combines the words cookbook and free, I jump at the chance! I’ll admit that I had never heard of Mouthwatering Vegan or Miriam Sorrell before, but after checking out her website and Facebook page and seeing that she has almost 60,000 followers (holy hell!) it appears I’m the only one who hasn’t.
My initial assumption about this book was that I was going to like it, for one it’s huge (yay for lots of recipes!), filled with plenty of coloured pictures (always a plus) and has plenty of interesting and tasty sounding recipes (ding, ding, we have a winner!). Miriam starts off the book by giving a lovely introduction about why she went vegan and why she decided to write a cookbook, following that there’s some information on vegan nutrition and like most vegan cookbooks, a breakdown of what some of the common ingredients and equipment that you’ll need…since if you’re new to vegan cooking, there’s a chance you might be wondering what in the hell are these agar things and why would I put them in my food? 😉
I bookmarked a lot of recipes but didn’t get a chance to make them all, yet. So to get this review rolling here are some of the items I tried.
Winner Cornbread – I started off with cornbread since I was still finishing up some reviewing for another cookbook and because I made chili, it only seemed right to have some cornbread to go along with it. This was a pretty simple cornbread, besides for some egg replacer powder, there weren’t any “weird” ingredients, so it’s pretty convenient for anyone. I couldn’t find my pie plate, so baked it in a square pan instead. It wasn’t too crumbly or sweet and had a nice flavour, the only thing I would change is the green pepper added, neither me or Philip were fans of that but we’re cornbread purists 😉
Nutty Spinach, Zucchini & Pesto Lasagna – As soon as I saw this recipe, I couldn’t not make it! I haven’t made lasagna in waaay too long and it has pesto! You all know how much I love pesto 🙂 Like every lasagna recipe on earth, this takes some time to make, but it’s definitely not difficult. The casserole dish I have is a bit bigger then what’s called for, so I made a little extra of everything, with no issues whatsoever, so if you have the same issue, go for it. I loved the flavor of this, it’s so creamy! With bright tomatoey flavor from the cherry tomato sauce and a lovely sweetness from the pesto. I added a little extra pesto in mine since I didn’t think the 2 teaspoons was enough. The nut/seed mixture added to the top was also a nice touch, it added a different flavor and texture to the creamy soft dish. If you have the book, I suggest giving this one a shot.
Spicy Rice & Quinoa Bake – Now I’m going to start off by saying that I think I bought the wrong olives for this one, because even though I bought the kind stuffed with jalapenos, I didn’t find mine to be very spicy….either that or I’ve been eating way too much spicy food lately. I found this recipe to be just ok, I liked all the flavors but it just seemed like there wasn’t enough. If I were to make it again, I would double all the spices and probably try a different type of olive. I like the creamy white sauce that’s added to the top, but once again, there didn’t seem like there was enough, it ended up baking in and lost most of the creamy factor. This did improve a bit the next day, after the flavors had time to sit and meld together I found it had gotten a bit more tasty.
Bean Goulash – I used to love goulash growing up, so I loved the idea of a vegan version with beans added to it. I really wish I had actually read the entire recipe before making this one, because I would have started making it earlier then I had. This one takes a really long time to cook, once again, pretty easy, just a lot of waiting. I’m happy to say that my patience was rewarded, because this dish had some great flavor. The red wine and balsamic vinegar added near the end, really adds a wonderful complexity and richness to it. Instead of using burgers, I went with large rehydrated tvp chunks and by the end of cooking, I found the texture to be perfect, super meaty and tasty! My only qualms are that there’s no weights or measurements for the meat, so I pretty much had to guess at how much tvp would make up “5 vegan burgers” and another issue is that it calls for sauteed red bell pepper at the end of the ingredient list instead of adding it as a step in the directions, it would have saved me from making another pan dirty. Either way, this was still a really tasty dish and I’d totally make it again!
Spinach, Basil & Arugula Pesto with Curried Vine Tomatoes – Yes I know, I know, more pesto. Philip has begun to sigh every time I pick up more basil, but it only seemed right to end my testing with my current obsession. At first I was a little worried about this pasta, with all the greens that are added, I thought the basil flavor would be lost. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong, the basil shone through and was complimented by the peppering arugula. It was almost like sneaking a salad into pasta, which I think is pretty great, I love adding greens to my meals. I was a bit iffy about mixing curry with pesto but the tomatoes went with the pasta really well, they were like little bursts of sweet curry flavor with every bit. Plus the pesto its self was deliciously creamy, I loved this one, so much so that I’m going to share the recipe with you!
SPINACH, BASIL & ARUGULA PESTO WITH CURRIED VINE TOMATOES
This combination of pasta tossed with a creamy, nutty green pesto and topped with sweet, scorched tomatoes is absolutely magical, and makes for a very special dinner. Indulge by serving with a glass of chilled white wine. But skip the side dishes—this pasta warrants your undivided attention.
- 1 cup (250 mL) hazelnuts, lightly toasted in a frying pan
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) raw cashews
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 cups (1 L) packed fresh baby spinach
- 2 cups (500 mL) loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups (500 mL) loosely packed arugula
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 tsp (10 mL) sea salt
- 2 Tbsp (30 mL) grated vegan cheese — use either Vegan Mozzarella (see page 253), Mild Cheddar “Cheese” (see page 254) or purchased
- 2 cups (500 mL) vegan cream (see page 249 or use purchased)
- 1 lb (500 g) dried spaghetti or other pasta
- Olive oil
- About 24 small whole vine tomatoes
- 2 tsp (10 mL) coriander seeds
- 1 tsp (5 mL) curry powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor and process until small crumbs are formed.
- Add the greens, and process until shredded into very small pieces.
- Add the oil, salt and cheese and cream, and process until smooth.
- Taste for salt, then set aside.
- Meanwhile, get your pasta on the boil and cook according to package instructions.
- Next, prepare the tomatoes: pour a little olive oil in a nonstick frying pan set over medium heat, and fry the tomatoes until they begin to brown.
- Sprinkle on the coriander seeds, curry powder, salt and pepper, and allow the tomatoes to slightly scorch (no need to burn them). Set aside.
- Transfer the pesto to a large nonstick pan and heat over low for 1 minute. Toss in the cooked, drained pasta and stir well.
- Divide the pasta among 4 plates, gently spoon 6 tomatoes on top of each serving and enjoy! © 2013 by Miriam Sorrell
I’m pretty happy with this book so far and I’m looking forward to trying more. I think it’s great that she’s included some basic recipes at the back for cheese, cream, milk, etc. for people who would like an alternative to the store bought stuff. Plus there’s a fondu recipe! I’ve been trying to find an excuse to make that one, as I don’t think sitting by myself in front of a big pot of cheese is the norm…but sometimes you just gotta make sacrifices in the name of testing 😉 I wish there were more tofu recipes but obviously that’s just me being picky, and hey, you can’t win them all. There are some great sounding recipes for holiday meals and there aren’t too many recipes that call for store bought vegan meats as she seems to offer an alternative for most, so if that’s an issue for you, she’s basically got you covered. Now, on to the curry chapter! Yup, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to curry 🙂