I’m not a vegan and whether that makes me the best or the worst person to review a vegan cookbook is purely subjective. I think any cookbook should stand the test of your average person flicking through and finding recipes they would try or even better incorporate into their current repertoire.
I must have started in the wrong spot with Robin Asbell’s Big Vegan cookbook because I’d landed on the pages where it’s all mock meat and cheese. Like I said, I’m no vegan and it seems a bit regressive that you’d go to all the trouble of becoming vegan only to eat imitations of the things you’re giving up voluntarily.
However, on second glance, Asbell’s giant vegan cookbook is packed full of things I, as meat eater and lover would honestly love to try. The porcini-pecan mushroom pate sounds intriguing, I’d paid good money for a tub of that at the Borough Markets recently. The Spanish chickpea fritters look really good and they’d be great for gluten intolerances. Asbell’s Moroccan carrot salad is a great example of the lovely simplicity of many of her recipes and in the same vein the Moroccan chickpea B’stilla (a massive phyllo pastry pie) looks very hearty indeed.
As to be expected, the recipe list is heavy on bread, pasta and rice dishes. But that’s ok; grains are an essential part of a vegan diet. I salivated over titles such as the braised sweet potato and pecan pasta and the Roman broccoli-walnut pasta. Clearly this is a book with nutrition high on the agenda and mindful of the wonderful potential of nuts and the importance of the mushroom and soy based items in a meat and dairy free diet.
Big Vegan is a go-to guide for the committed vegan and food lover alike, full of wholesome recipes for everyday use. The only criticism I have is that it would have been nice to see more photos. Kate Sears’ images of the dishes are mouth watering and serve to inspire, a few more would have made this a ten out of ten.
Robin Asbell is a chef, food writer and cooking teacher specialising in natural food. She is the author or two other cookery books.
Big Vegan by Robin Asbell, is published by CHRONICLE BOOKS and is available from all good bookshops, you can follow Robin Asbell on Twitter @robinasbell