Cookbook Challenge: 500 Vegan Recipes

The PPK is doing a weekly cookbook challenge.  I haven’t been following along very well (or at all, really, since they cooked from 500 Vegan Recipes several weeks ago), but I like the idea of using my cookbooks more.  I tend to buy a cookbook, read through it, bookmark recipes that appeal to me, and then never return to them again.  It’s kind of dumb.  I’ve had this book for a few months, and I haven’t used it much.  I always turn straight to the Chocolate Tahini Quick Bread and ignore the 499 other recipes in the book.  I decided to remedy that! (But seriously, make that bread.  And then make it again.  And again.)

I should note that I have a hard time following directions.  Even when I do decide to cook from a recipe, I usually end up changing things.  It’s a disease?

Caramelized Onion Tart with Sweet Potato Sage Crust

I think a recipe would really have to suck to mess up two of the best foods in the universe: sweet potatoes and caramelized onions.  Fortunately, this recipe does not suck.  Quite the opposite, actually.  It’s good!  The title is a little misleading, though.  I would not describe this as a tart.  It’s a pizza.  A non-traditional pizza, but a pizza nonetheless. Next time, I’m going to embrace the pizza-ness of the thing and go ahead and bake it on my pizza stone.  I used a baking sheet lined with parchment, as called for in the recipe, and the crust came out puffy and very soft. The leftover slices were better when I heated them up under the broiler for a few minutes, so maybe I should have just done that to begin with.

I deviated from the recipe (I can’t help myself!) by omitting the nutritional yeast/sunflower seed/sesame seed “parmesan” topping and just topped it with some toasted sesame seeds instead.  And since I thought I didn’t have sage (I found it afterwards, of course), I used thyme instead.  I wouldn’t recommend this because the thyme sort of overpowered the whole thing.  Next time I make this, I’ll do it properly and use sage.

Banana Oat Morning Fuel

I felt silly following a recipe for a smoothie, but I liked this.  Blended up in there are a banana, non-dairy milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and oats.  I skipped the agave called for in the recipe because it really didn’t need it.  This is very similar to a chocolate/banana smoothie I make regularly, but the addition of oats was new to me.  They made the smoothie quite filling and gave me something to chew, so thumbs up!

Agave Bread

This bread is excellent!  For a 100% whole wheat loaf, the oven spring was unbelievable.  It’s so light and fluffy!  It tastes good, too.  The agave makes it a little sweet, but not obnoxiously so.

It took me about thirty seconds to break out the peanut butter to spread on that end slice*, and it was delightful.  I think this will be my new go-to whole wheat sandwich loaf.

*When we were kids, my best friend used to call the end slices “butt bread.” As in, “I brought a butt bread sandwich to school for lunch today.”  I hated that term so much.  I cringed every time she said it, and she seemed to say it a lot — probably just to irritate me.  To this day, every time I eat the ends of the loaf, I still hear her saying “butt bread.” Sigh.

Refried Beans

There is no meal more comforting to me than a simple bowl of beans and homemade tortillas.  The beans were good, but a little bland.  The recipe doesn’t call for any salt, which is surely because it calls for canned beans — either black or pinto — in their canning liquid, and that stuff is crazy salty (and also kind of gross).  I cooked my own black beans (down with canned beans, forever and ever!), so I had to add some salt.  Even then, they were pretty basic.  If I made them again, I’d probably double the spices.  I also think two tablespoons of Earth Balance is probably unnecessary for cooking the onions; I couldn’t really taste it.  I’d use oil instead, and probably less of it.

The tortillas were the best part, and that recipe came straight from the back of the Maseca bag.  When I was a little kid, I used to sit at my grandmother’s kitchen table and “help” her make tortillas.  In reality, she’d give me a ball of masa harina dough and I’d play with it like Play-Doh.  I was a master masa harina mini-snowman-builder.  The smell and feel of that dough still gives me the warm fuzzies.

I also want to note that as a recovering cilantro-hater, the fact that I’m now voluntarily adding it to stuff shows remarkable growth.  I used to be the person who made a face and picked it out of everything, and then complained about how it tainted everything else on the plate with its dish-soapy flavor.  I guess my palate changed at some point, because now I rather like the stuff.  Weird!  I wonder what else I could train myself to like.  Actual dish soap?  Perhaps!  Even mushrooms, maybe?  Probably not.

Coconut Rice with Sugar Snap Snow Peas

This was kind of disappointing.  It’s just rice (the recipe calls for white; I used brown) cooked in coconut milk, with lime juice and cilantro (there it is again!) stirred in at the end.  It’s not bad, but it’s a little too tart for me, and there aren’t enough other flavors going on to balance out the lime.  The recipe calls for raw sugar snap peas to be added to the rice after cooking, but I had snow peas in the fridge, so I used those instead.  I don’t like them raw, so I steamed them.  I topped it all with some very simple baked tofu.  That was my favorite part, and it wasn’t even part of the recipe.  I won’t be making this again.

So, overall, I’m happy with 500 Vegan Recipes so far.  It’s hard to write a real review since I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this book has to offer; 500 is, well, a large number of recipes.  I had a hard time deciding what to make because there was just so much to choose from.  My choices were basically dictated by what was in my pantry, as is usually the case with me and cookbooks.  I need to get better about planning ahead of time and picking out recipes before going shopping.

I’ll return to this book soon, but up next: Vegan with a Vengeance!

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3 Responses to Cookbook Challenge: 500 Vegan Recipes

  1. Katelyn says:

    Hi Ashley – Just found your blog and I love it! Is there any way to subscribe?

    • Ashley says:

      Hey, thanks! I added a link to the RSS feed in the side bar. Does that help? I’m new at this and don’t totally know what I’m doing here.

  2. Katelyn says:

    Yes, thanks! No worries, I’m new to the blog thing too, we”ll learn 🙂

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