So many vegan cookbooks, so little time. But as soon as I heard the title, The 30 Minute Vegan, I fell in love with it. As with any great page-turner, I settled into a comfy chair and read through it from cover to cover. Every recipe beckoned to me, and just reading through the ingredients, I knew that these were going to be some very impressive dishes. Discovering a book filled with 175 mouth-watering recipes that could be made in 30 minutes or less was like a dream. If it really turned out to be true that I could prepare great-tasting, satisfying, hearty vegan meals in much less time than I was accustomed to spending in the kitchen, then The 30 Minute Vegan would truly be a godsend.
But where to begin? Because I happened to have some nice, juicy ripe mangos on hand, I started with the Live Mango Gazpacho Soup. While most gourmet raw food dishes are time consuming (all that soaking, chopping, dehydrating, etc.), and high in fat from nuts, seeds, and avocado, this delightful little soup turned out to be a wonderful surprise! It’s actually simple to prepare and made for a sensational low-fat summertime dish. As I have a garden full of mint, I substituted it for the cilantro called for in the recipe, and it blended quite nicely with the lime juice and mangos. That’s one of the things I love about The 30 Minute Vegan: Unlike most other cookbooks, the way the recipes are presented, you are actually encouraged and inspired to add your own culinary creativity. I loved that feeling of freedom! I wasn’t afraid to experiment on the first go-round with any recipe. The authors made me feel like I couldn’t mess it up.
The Monk Bowl’s, “Zen simplicity,” as it is described in the book, is also co-author Mark Reinfeld’s favorite meal to prepare. So I couldn’t resist trying such an enlightened and inspired recipe. It’s made with quinoa, which is noted for containing more high-quality protein than any other grain. I love it’s lighter-than-brown-rice consistency, although this dish would be wonderful with any kind of rice, too. I chose to use roasted tempeh instead of tofu, (one of the suggested variations on this recipe), and added sliced red bell pepper and edamame to the mix of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Served with nutritional yeast, soy sauce, flax seed oil, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, the lightly-steamed veggies and fluffy quinoa made for a hearty and satisfying meal. I think that the next time I make this dish, I’ll try it with the peanut sauce suggested as another variation of this recipe.
I was very excited to see that a simplified version of the prize-winning recipe from last year’s Most Remarkable Vegan Recipe Contest was thoughtfully included in The 30 Minute Vegan. Live Un-Stir-Fry with Cauliflower Rice was as fun to prepare as it was vibrantly eye-appealing and palate-pleasing. The cauliflower “rice” really fooled my taste buds, and the spicy vegetable dressing had just the right balance of sweetness and piquancy. Warning: Don’t click on the photo below, unless you are ready to arouse your appetite.
Extremely helpful sidebars are peppered throughout the book: “Quicker and Easier,” “Tips and Tricks,” “Superfoods for Health,” and “If You Have More Time” enhance the value of this book a thousandfold. As do the opening chapters, “Getting Started” and “Preparation Basics,” which includes grain and dried bean cooking charts. It’s wonderful to have all of this information in one place!
Since I feel the need to get my hands on a copy of every vegan cookbook that comes along, I have a stack of them collecting dust on my bookshelf. But like the authors’ earlier books, Vegan World Fusion Cuisine and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw, The 30 Minute Vegan has found a permanent home in my kitchen, where its pages will quickly become worn, torn, and stained. And I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of this book. Can you say Chocolate Ganache Pie?