I think there are some vegan cookbooks that are easy to recognize. Maybe it’s the author (like Isa Chandra Moskowitz) or their schtick (like Bad Manners and their prolific use of swears). And sometimes, it’s just their logo. Dustin Harder’s previous cookbook, Epic Vegan, was definitely the latter for me. I could never remember his name or his website, but I recognized the cover time and time again. Amusingly, I never got around to checking it out. However, Fair Winds Press/Quarto Publishing was kind enough to send me a copy of Harder’s newest book, Epic Vegan Quick and Easy.
The book is divided into:
- Back to basics: staples to make the dull delicious
- Brekky bites: putting the fast in breakfast
- Snacks and apps: movie night bites
- Soups ‘n such: give them something to stew about
- It’s a handful: sandwiches, tacos, and burritos that pack a punch
- Lunch break: meals on the go for the office, break room, or home
- The main event: fast and flavorful dinnertime entrees
- Sweet treats: sweet dreams are made of these
Some of the recipes that have immediately caught my attention:
- All in one breakfast sheet-pan bowls
- Matcha blueberry granola
- Smoky tempeh peanut satay
- Miso garlic cheese bread
- Mindful mushroom and corn chowder
- Hawaiian tofu and pineapple sando
- Garlicky nooch broccoli and potatoes
- Fiesta quinoa with sweet lime vinaigrette
- No-churn pineapple basil sorbet
I made the creamy chickpea pot pie, partly because it sounded delicious, and partly because Boston weather had changed from a series of hot and humid days to a series of cooler, rainy days. It was a straightforward recipe where you heat olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic first. Then you add diced potatoes and liquid. When the potatoes are just cooked through, add some DIY cashew cream and seasoning. Towards the end of cooking, you add frozen peas, frozen corn, and drained chickpeas.
While I carefully diced my potatoes with a knife, I decided to speed up the overall process a bit by using my food processor to chop the aromatics. I have no regrets. If by chance, someone is reading this and has De Quervain’s tenosynovitis in their dominant hand, a food processor is a great way to chop things that don’t have to look pretty. My soup had a lot of orange speckle from the carrots, but that doesn’t mean that it looked bad or tasted bad.
This recipe has a minor misprint on it. It says “yield 24 pieces.” Based on the liquid amount, I knew I was going to end up somewhere with 4-6 servings. For me, it was six 1.5 cup servings. I gave a portion to my dad, who surprised me by calling to say he liked it. My dad is a tough critic because he’s a picky eater. So it’s safe to say that I think this soup recipe is going into rotation when the weather turns cool again.
I like the variety this book offers. I’m not sure I necessarily agree that all the recipes are quick though. They’re quick once you have your mise en place. I, for one, am someone who rarely preps mise en place. I have such a badly laid out kitchen that I’m more “prep what you can” and then “prep while you cook.” There have been occasions when I was prepping so slowly while I was cooking that I had to take a pan off the heat. Your mileage may vary.
The only critique I have is that a lot of the recipes either make 6 servings or 2 servings. There are some 4 serving recipes, but there are also a handful of 8 serving recipes. I wanted to review a second recipe but I couldn’t justify making another large recipe when I’m not feeding a family. While I could have opted for some of the 2 serving recipes, all of them would have required me to go back out to the market. (Although, I’m now noticing the mushroom carnitas and brussels burrito with sweet red onion. Except for tortillas, I have everything else. Perhaps an addendum to this review is in order.)
In the introduction, Harder writes, “This book is not just for vegans. It was written for anyone who likes easy and delicious food.” I completely agree. None of the recipes are difficult. While the ingredient lists might be a touch longer than how I normally cook, I couldn’t find a recipe that seemed intimidating, boring, or ridiculous. None of the recipes asked for an extremely hard-to-find ingredient (for this city dweller).
If this sounds like your jam, Epic Vegan Quick and Easy is available for purchase now.
Disclaimer – I kindly received a digital copy of this book from Fair Winds Press/Quarto Publishing for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.
edited on 7/15/21 to reflect that Epic Vegan was Harder’s previous cookbook, not his first cookbook