Food writer and recipe tester Linda Avery reviews cookbooks.
Robin Robertson has over twenty cookbooks to her credit and, I must say, an absolutely lovely website. (I will admit to being affectionately dubbed a "webmistress," so I look with a critical eye at websites, and Robertson's has a clean look with great images. The simplicity punctuates the one word message she wants to send – VEGAN!)
One-Dish Vegan is an update of One-Dish Vegetarian Meals released in 2007. The changes in this book include recipes that use less oil, many low-fat, more whole grain recipes and gluten-free/soy-free notations. If the recipe isn’t gluten-free, she notes how it can be made so.
A nice variety of recipes are grouped in eight chapters such as Soups That Make a Meal, Main Dish Salads, Stovetop Simmers and Stews, Sautés, Oven to Table... Some that caught my eye are Lebanese Bread Salad with Chickpeas, Minestrone with Cannellini Beans and Rice, Beer Chaser Chili (there are 19 chili recipes), Tempeh and Eggplant Moussaka, and Southwestern Mac and Queso.
I love headnotes and Robertson uses them to hint at what’s to come - “fragrant Basmati rice lends an extra touch of sweetness”; - or to instruct - “Soba can be tricky to cook… to solve this…” - or to teach, as you’ll read in this Vegetable Étouffée recipe.
There are many variations on the classic Cajun stew called étouffée which translates from the French as "smothered" and is usually made with crawfish or shrimp. This brimming-with-vegetables version still has that great New Orleans taste because it's based on a dark roux, the traditional butter-and-flour thickener (although olive oil stands in for butter here), and the famous Cajun "trinity" of onion, celery, and bell pepper. The ingredient list may seem long, but this stew cooks in only 30 minutes. Traditionally, this is a "serve over rice" dish.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 medium-size zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 garlic cloves, minced 2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups cooked dark red kidney beans or 1 (15.5-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 3 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon filé powder
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
Hot pepper sauce (optional)
Cooked brown rice, for serving
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until it brown, 3 to 5 minutes; watch carefully so it does not burn. Transfer the flour to a small plate and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the browned flour, stirring to coat the vegetables. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, scallions, thyme, filé powder, bay leaf, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Add the parsley, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a splash of hot pepper sauce if desired. Serve hot over rice.