Archive | December, 2009

Book Review: Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes, by Devra Gartenstein

30 Dec

After being contacted by Book Publishing Company to do some cookbook reviews, I chose a few of the ones I thought were interesting and applicable. As someone who is trying to eat more locally and seasonally, the Local Bounty cookbook caught my eye immediately.

Review

Local Bounty is just as it says it is; a vegan cookbook featuring recipes catered to seasonal vegetables. The book is organized into four introductory type chapters and four chapters covering each season–including recipes containing seasonal produce. As with many cookbooks, the beginning starts with descriptions of how to prep and work with different vegetables. For Local Bounty, the introduction also includes an in-depth look at the author’s ideas on seasonal eating and why anyone should eat this way.

Recipes

The recipes are organized by season, starting with spring and ending with winter. There are no pictures of any of the recipes, which some may find useful (and I usually appreciate, but I do like food photography). Each chapter includes a list of the season’s produce, broken down into “early,” “mid,” and “late.”

Spring

If you were looking for several ways to cook asparagus, this book is the one for you! The “spring” chapter includes recipes featuring seasonal vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, thyme, morel mushrooms, and snow peas (amont others).  The recipes in this chapter seem light and fresh, but still with some nice hearty veggies included–much like the season, where the young plants are bursting from the ground yet we still feel a chill in the air.

  • Asparagus with Ginger Sauce- If you want to try asparagus in a manner other than roasted, this recipe will shine. It contains soy sauce, ginger, and rice vinegar, making a nice accompaniment to a tofu stir fry featuring another seasonal vegetable such as carrots or leeks. I could also see this alongside a light Easter lunch. Cooking time: ~18 minutes. Serves: 4
  • Pea and Radish Salad- For a light side or lunch, that packs flavor and a nice crunch, this recipe is sure to please. If you are attending a potluck and need a quick dish, all it takes for this recipe is some mixing. Serves: 4
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart- Everyone loves dessert. And desert that is consciously full of seasonal fruits is always better. This recipe would be a perfect addition to a late spring meal, when it just begins to warm up. As for creating a vegan crust, this recipe’s is a cinch, made with vegan margarine.

Summer

Produce options in the summer are plentiful and choices in meals are endless. Summer is a time to celebrate the flavors of vegetables and you have some of the best selection to choose from.  Some of the summer produce highlights are raspberries, peppers, basil, tomatoes, eggplants, and peaches.

  • Peach Salsa- Fresh, spicy, and sweet. An amazing salsa to bring along to a late summer barbecue. This recipe does require some baking, to roast the chiles, tomatoes, and peach. Serves: ~2 cups of salsa.
  • Roasted Eggplant Pasta Salad- Eggplant is a well known “meaty” type veggie for vegetarian meals. Roasting vegetables gives them a whole new flavor, and using the roasted eggplant in this pasta salad is a wonderful update; this will be the star of your picnic, or your Fourth of July shindig.
  • Raspberry-Almond Cake- This cake is super easy and tasty too! Simply, yet satisfyingly sweet. Topped with some fresh raspberries and served with some soy ice cream, I can see this as a short ticket to a perfect, lazy summer afternoon.

Fall

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and I cook up some of my absolute favorite dishes in the fall. Pumpkin is an obvious and prevalent flavor choice, but there are many more flavors that fall has to offer: bell peppers in early fall, paired with cilantro and chiles for a spicy fiesta inspired meal; broccoli and cabbage, adorning stir-fries and veggie soups; and finally, the icon of fall–apples. Here are a few recipe highlights from the fall section:

  • Roasted Tomatillo Salsa- Almost any vegetable will increase flavor by a bunch just by roasting it in the oven for a few minutes. Tomatillos make a nice tart green salsa that is wonderful addition to any southwestern themed meal.
  • Harvest Corn and Squash Soup- Fall is when I really start to break out my soup pot. Squash makes an awesome addition in many soups, provided flavor and creaminess. This particular soup is made special by the addition of cilantro and chiles. It is just about perfect for an evening of scary movies in the middle of October.
  • Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Patties- I made these for Thanksgiving and I had my non-vegan family members asking for the recipe. Not only are they beautiful, but they are hearty and very tasty. The recipe only calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, so if you like things a bit more salty, you might want to adjust your seasonings.

Winter

Winter, being winter and cold, does not produce as many vegetables as the other seasons. However, early winter retains many of falls splendid bounty and the rest of the season produces very hearty veggies and fruits–perfect for slow cooked stews.

  • Portuguese Kale and White Bean Soup- Kale is a powerhouse and paired with a nice serving of white beans, this soup makes a great, hearty winter meal.
  • Broccoli Romana- How do you make broccoli a stellar side dish? Simpyl with the addition of some leeks, basil, oregano, and fresh black pepper as done in this recipe.
  • Seitan Shepherd’s Pie- This recipe is one I see popping up at vegan Holiday celebrations. Seitan makes an incredible meat substitute, and shepherd’s pie makes it easy to get lots of veggies and nutrients in one easy to bake casserole dish.

Glossary

The glossary provided at the end of the cookbook highlights some products used that one may not be familar with. Each item is presented with a detailed but short description of what exactly it is. Highly useful if you have no idea what Orzo or Quinoa is.

Conclusion

Overall, I am compltely in love with this cookbook. I do wish that it included nutrional information on the recipes, as well as total cooking time. Another negative aspect is the lack of photographs of the dishes, which I find both alluring and useful. Nevertheless, I have been popping open this cookbook quite often lately, searching for seasonal winter dishes and have not been dissapointed.