What does your cookbook collection look like? Are your shelves spilling over with books that have stained, dog-eared pages showing that they are truly loved? Mine keeps on growing, but sometimes, there’s just that one book that you can’t wait to get your hands on and cook through! Kristy Turner’s But I Could Never Go Vegan! was that book for me this year. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but the manly BBQ Bacon Burger with pickled red cabbage and blue cheese is a feast for the eyes. That’s just the beginning. As I flipped through the book, the gorgeous photos by Chris Miller (a talented and inspiring photographer who also happens to be Kristy’s husband) gave me an inviting and comforting feel. Kristy’s story-telling makes it feel like you are BFFs and you are welcomed right into her world! But, most of all – the FOOD. It’s brilliant.
You are probably already familiar with Kristy’s popular vegan blog, Keepin’ It Kind. It has been a source of inspiration for me as a blogger – given the tantalizing and inventive recipes and beautiful and enticing photography that is Keeepin’ It Kind. I’ve never tried something from her blog that I didn’t enjoy, and her writing style is so inviting, humourous and fun.
But I Could Never Go Vegan! is divided into chapters with hilarious titles, such as “Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything”, “Fake ‘Foods’ Freak Me Out”, and “But I Hate [Insert Vegetable Here]”. Each chapter takes on the challenge and seriously does not disappoint. I love Kristy’s playful view on vegan cooking: if it’s completely new to you, just dive right in. Embrace new ingredients. Try new techniques. If you make a mistake, no big deal! The book makes it even easier to navigate through, with symbols for gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, made to go, or plan ahead options. Kristy also walks you through the basics, like how to press tofu, make cashew cheese, and cook beans and grains. Along with the 125 recipes, the beautiful and appealing photos throughout the book will definitely have you inspired to be in your kitchen.
As soon as I received my copy, I sat with my little guy and flipped through the pages. Actually, it was more of a fight of “let me see, let me see!!!”, but we played nice. We shared. 🙂
Besides the fact that I cooked solely from this book for about a week straight, I also knew I wanted to make at least 3 or 4 recipes from it to review it well for you guys!
I started from the chapter “Vegan Cooking is Too Hard” and made Chickpea Omelets. I was quite new to using chickpea flour to make omelets, and it turns out to be so easy to do! The recipe calls for kala namak (black salt) which gives a true egg-like flavour to the omelets. They are really versatile to make, and Kristy offers variations on which veggies to use, as well as making sandwiches with them. They were delicious served with a salad on the side and with some hot sauce (we love it hot!).
On to the chapter, “But It’s All Rabbit Food”. (LOL!) I made the Crispy Baked Onion Rings and holy smokes! I really had no choice but to make these. When my five-year old spotted them in the book, he insisted on having them. That was at 7am. I made them for dinner to go along with the BBQ Cauliflower Salad with Zesty Ranch Dressing (to die for!). The onion rings are: crispy, crunchy, baked-not-fried, easy to make, and totally delectable. It was hard to share these. I highly recommend these, and they are so kid-friendly. Fun to get your littles to help you make these as well. Expect a bit of a mess.
For lunch, I made Tofu “Bravas” from the chapter, “Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything”. Can I please take a moment to add that I used to think the same thing about tofu? I didn’t like it one bit. Over the years, I discovered amazing ways to prepare it, and now I always have at least one block in my fridge. I am a huge tofu-lover! Even the little guy has grown to really like it as well. The bravas sauce from the book is incredible. My husband couldn’t stop talking about this one. Yes, it’s amazing over the tofu. But, the recipe left me with quite a bit of leftover sauce which was not in any way an issue. 😉 We poured this over everything. It’s amazing over pasta noodles!
I am really excited to keep making more recipes from the book, especially from the chapter “Can’t I Be Pescatarian Instead?”. Seriously, an entire chapter on seafood-inspired dishes. I’m dying to try the Artichoke Crab Cakes with Sriracha Tartar Sauce!
I’ve got great news, the folks over at The Experiment have given me permission to share a recipe from the book with you all, and also a giveaway copy of But I Could Never Go Vegan!. The giveaway is open to all in Canada and USA.
Image by Chris Miller
BBQ Cauliflower Salad with Zesty Ranch Dressing
Serves 4 Gluten-Free | Plan-Ahead
You know those big BBQ sandwiches stuffed with onion rings? Imagine taking away the bread, dumping everything else into a bowl with some lettuce, and dousing it with ranch dressing. That’s what this salad is all about. Roasted cauliflower coated in Barbecue Sauce makes an unforgettable replacement for meat and is an instant favorite of all who try it (even cauliflower-phobes). Topped with corn, tomatoes, and Crispy Baked Onion Rings this salad is for everyone who thinks a salad can’t be hearty, satisfying, and downright mouthwatering. All that, and it’s vegan!
Prep Time: 15 minutes (not including time to prepare Onion Rings and Zesty Ranch Dressing)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
Olive oil spray
1 tablespoon liquid aminos
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
1 cup (250 ml) Barbecue Sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 cups (120 g) mixed greens or lettuce
1½ cups (210 g) corn kernels
1½ cups (240 g) diced tomatoes
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped into chunks
Zesty Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
Crispy Baked Onion Rings (recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Spread the cauliflower florets on the sheet. Lightly spray with olive oil. Drizzle with the liquid aminos and liquid smoke and sprinkle with the cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Squeeze the lemon juice over them. Toss to fully coat each piece. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure even cooking.
- Mix the Barbecue Sauce and cornstarch in a cup. After 20 minutes, remove the cauliflower from the oven, add the sauce, and toss. Bake 5 to 10 minutes more, until most of the BBQ sauce has dried.
- Toss together the greens, corn, tomatoes, and avocado in a bowl. Divide the salad among four bowls, top with the BBQ cauliflower, drizzle with the dressing, and top with the onion rings. Serve immediately.
Zesty Ranch Dressing
Makes 1½ cups Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Plan Ahead
What doesn’t taste good dipped into ranch dressing? What salad doesn’t benefit from that cool, rich, creamy sauce? Okay, okay, there are probably a few, but I can’t think of one. It is my belief that a ranch dressing is best when it’s thick, luscious, and full of bold flavor. This recipe fits the description to a T. Raw veggies, French fries, anything BBQish—it’s all taken up a notch when dipped into this stuff. It’s also your salad’s new BFF.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Down Time: 3 to 4 hours (while cashews soak)
½ cup (80 g) raw cashews, soaked in water 3 to 4 hours, water reserved
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon agave syrup
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon dried dill
Place all ingredients in a food processor with 5 tablespoons of the reserved soaking water. Process until smooth. Chill until ready to use. It will thicken as it chills, so if you need to thin it (to drizzle on a salad, for example), you may need to stir in a couple teaspoons of water. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 7 days.
Crispy Baked Onion Rings
Serves 2 to 3 Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free
“Baked onion rings?,” you may be exclaiming. “For shame!” Now, before you go slamming this book shut, listen up. It is possible to get crisp baked onion rings with a crunchy, crumbly exterior and a soft interior. It is possible for said baked onion rings to satisfy your greasy, fast-food-style onion ring craving. It is possible for these onion rings to be just as delectable as the fried version while being healthier for you. It’s called having your onion rings and eating them, too.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 large sweet onion
1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup (140 g) arrowroot powder or cornstarch
2 cups (80 g) panko bread crumbs (gluten-free if necessary)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Olive oil spray
Vegan ketchup, Barbecue Sauce, or Zesty Ranch Dressing, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Slice the onion into almost ½-inch (1 cm) slices. Separate into rings.
- In one shallow bowl, combine the non-dairy milk and lemon juice. Pour the arrowroot powder into another shallow bowl. In a third, larger shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt, garlic powder, and paprika. (You may have to stir a few more times during the coating process.)
- One at a time, place an onion ring in the milk mixture, coating it completely (see tips). Then dredge it in the arrowroot powder, coating it completely. Tap off the excess powder before dipping it quickly back into the milk. Dredge the ring through the bread crumbs, making sure to coat each one well. Place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue with the remaining rings.
- Spray the onion rings with olive oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp and golden. Serve immediately with ketchup or other dip of choice.
- To prevent your fingers from becoming sticky messes, use one hand for dipping in the milk and the other hand for dipping in the arrowroot powder and bread crumbs.
- It’s very important to tap the excess arrowroot powder off the onion ring before transferring it back to the milk. Too much arrowroot will make the onion rings dry.
- To maximize baking sheet space, place smaller onion rings inside the larger ones.
Recipe from But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over Dinner, copyright © Kristy Turner, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.
Canada & US Giveaway
Kristy and her publisher, The Experiment are giving away a copy But I Could Never Go Vegan! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Good luck everyone, and thanks so much for reading!