Global Inspiration Spices Up the Vegan Kitchen in Two New Cookbooks



Something I’ve noticed in the last 15 years of having a mostly plant-based diet is that aside from a good Southern vegetable plate, it’s usually easier and tastier to eat vegetarian and vegan foods within Asian, African or Caribbean cuisine. For example, Woodlands, Jamaicaway and Calypso Cafe have some wonderful vegan foods. Much of the menu at The Wild Cow and Sunflower Café is inspired by world cuisine, and Gojo Ethiopian Café and Restaurant is a very popular destination for veg*ns.

But if you’re looking for inspiration in your home kitchen, there are two recently published cookbooks that can help.

Vegan Beans from Around the World by Kelsey Kinser seeks to put a little oomph on your plate if, like me, you have a tendency to serve plain beans. Among the 100 recipes, there are main dishes that include Ful Medames, a Middle Eastern recipe for fava beans; a cassoulet; peas-and-rice (though I use pigeon peas when I make this dish, instead of their suggested kidney or red beans); and Jamaican Peanut Porridge. The recipes for side dishes from around the globe could serve as a base for a more exciting vegetable plate or accompany your favorite meat dish.

There are also recipes for soup and salads, and of course, no bean book would be complete without some recipes for sweets, too. Beans are common ingredients in sweets throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and a few choice recipes, such as red bean ice cream and chickpea cupcakes are included. Each recipe is accompanied by helpful information about the beans, the inspiration and origin of the recipe, and suggestions for companion dishes and serving. Along with recipes, there are some bean basics, such as choosing canned versus dried and pre-preparation of beans for recipes.

Another book that will help take your home vegan cooking to the next level is Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen by Joni Marie Newman. Not content to rely on the dishes of just one country, Newman presents recipes that combine flavors and styles of two or three different countries or cultures.

For example, I wouldn’t normally think to combine Mexican and Thai flavors, but cilantro lime rice with toasted coconut sounds delicious. And I’m very intrigued by a miso mac-and-“cheese” made with a miso mustard sauce that is coconut milk-based. And Greece meets Mexico with mushroom spanakopenadas. The recipes actually start out with 15 different sauces and condiments (Peruvian aji sauce, nori garlic ranch, for example) that on their own can transform a bland dish into something a lot more exciting.

The book has 125 recipes and in addition to sauces and condiments, there are small bites and starters, soups and salads, main dishes, sides and snacks, beverages, and desserts. Most recipes have gorgeous photos that will have you drooling, too. There’s also has a pantry guide for stocking the basics before starting.

There is a handy label for each recipe indicating whether it’s quick and easy, low-fat, gluten-free, soy-free, and/or nut-free. Newman previously published the book, The Complete Guide to Vegan Substitutions, so there are a number of really cool surprises such as a vegan tres leches and the aforementioned mac-and-cheese that show that vegan food can be decadent and still be dairy-free.

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