I have to admit that when I was first asked to review Keep It Vegan: Over 100 Simple, Healthy and Delicious Dishes by Áine Carlin I was going to turn it down. I hadn’t heard of the author before, and I already had a stack of books to review. (It’s so easy to fall behind!) However, the request came with a link to the book’s pdf, and I loved the look of it so much that I said yes. It has a nice clean layout, along with whimsical typefaces, mouthwatering photos and cute drawings. Oh yeah – and lots of vegan recipes. Who can say no to that?
I’m glad I did say yes to the review, because I’ve cooked quite a few dishes from Keep It Vegan, and each one has been a hit. The book’s recipes are all dishes that are recognizable, so it’s perfect for new vegans, mixed families, and those who want to reduce the amount of meat they’re eating, but each recipe has a little creative flair to it, so veteran vegans will enjoy the book too. Recipes that I’ve bookmarked for future dinners include Mexican-Style Lasagna, Indian-Spiced Tacos with Mango Salsa, Salt ‘n’ Pepper Tofu Fingers, and the Macaro-No-Cheese with Crispy Kale recipe that’s below.
The recipes in Keep It Vegan are easy to follow, don’t use crazy ingredients, and and they come together quickly. Everything I’ve made has used ingredients that I already had on hand in my kitchen. I started with the Savory Pudla Pancake, which is sort of a combination of a chickpea omelet and an Indian pakora. It’s very versatile as far as fillings go, and I think it’s going to become a breakfast mainstay in our house. (I need to work on getting it out of the pan without breaking it apart though!) My go-to way to cook broccoli is in a pan with garlic and a little olive oil and lemon juice, but the since I had a little leftover pesto in the fridge, I made Pesto-Roasted Broccoli next. It almost didn’t make it to the dinner table because I eat a little more than I should have off of the roasting pan. My go-to way to make potatoes is to cube them and roast them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, but since Áine didn’t steer me wrong with the broccoli, I checked the pages of Keep It Vegan for something new to do with the spuds I had on hand. I came across the Dijon Coated Potato Wedges, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all potatoes should be Dijon coated from now on. I’ve also made some of the book’s salad dressings, Sweet and Sour Marinated Tofu, and Balsamic and Black Peppercorn Cashew Cheese – all of which have been totally delish.
Macaro-No Cheese with Crispy Kale
- 1 x 13/4 lb butternut squash halved and seeded
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- salt and freshly ground
- black pepper
- 9 oz macaroni
For the crispy kale
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 21/4 cups kale torn into
- bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Place the squash, flesh side down, in a roasting pan and pour in about 1/2 cup water. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the flesh is completely soft. Leave the oven at the same temperature to cook the kale later on. Set the squash aside to cool slightly before scooping out the flesh with a spoon and blending with the coconut milk to a smooth purée in a blender.
Pour the purée into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer before adding the Dijon mustard, crumbled bouillon cube, and cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and add a little water to loosen the sauce. Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes until it thickens and turns pale yellow.
Bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook for just slightly under the recommended time.
While the pasta is cooking, rub the olive oil all over the kale pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes or until completely crisp. Sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top.
Drain the macaroni and transfer to the pan of squash sauce. Stir to combine and heat through gently over low heat for about 5 minutes. Serve in heated bowls and top with the salty, crispy kale.
Recipe from Keep It Vegan: Over 100 Simple, Healthy and Delicious Dishes by Áine Carlin
I have a copy of Keep It Vegan for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends Sunday, February 14th at midnight EST. Good luck!