It was with great glee that my meat-eating, Atkins following bestie Jenn presented me with two new vegan cookbooks for Christmas. It is with equal glee that I dive into them, testing the wares and yumminess potential.
My first tests came from Vegan Fire and Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes by Robin Robertson. As a Texas girl, I love spice and spicy, so I was especially excited to give this one a whirl. The book delivers on the promised number of recipes–it is packed full of them, organized geographically. It is a simple book with a nice introduction containing ingredient and cooking tips. I always enjoy pictures in a cookbook and was a touch disappointed that this contains none. That aside, I like the variety and her writing style. Each recipe is even rated according to spiciness using a little chili pepper symbol.
Having learned to cook in Madrid from my Spanish landlady, I love Spanish food and was eager to try some of my favorite Spanish flavors veganized. I tried her Spanish Lentils, which were ranked low on the spicy scale, included ingredients I already had (one of my tests for a good cookbook), and were simple to prepare. My husband and kids enjoyed this dish; my daughter even asked for the leftovers for lunch.
The other dish I elected to try was her Spicy Spanish Potatoes, which are her spin on Patatas Bravas. Now the traditional preparation of this dish is already vegan, but I elected to try Robertson’s version just because it is healthier.
I did have to make some substitutions (noted below), in part because my husband cannot tolerate serious heat. The final results were so good. Both dishes had similar cooking times, so they finished at the same time. These two dishes paired together was actually a really good idea–the more mellow lentils provided a contrast to the spicier potatoes. I highly recommend both and cannot wait to work more of these dishes into my cooking rotation.
Spanish Lentils by Robin Robertson
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced celery
1 serrano or hot chili, minced (I used a roasted green chili because I can get them locally)
3/4 cup lentils
2 TBS chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I used 1 TBS of sun-dried tomato paste)
3 cups water
Salt and pepper
2 TBS chopped parsley
- In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the celery, garlic, onion, and chile. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the lentils are tender and the liquid absorbed, about 45 minutes. Stir in the parsley just before serving.
Spicy Spanish Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. russet or Yukon potatoes, cut into one inch cubes
2 TBS olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1/2 tsp cayenne, divided
Salt and pepper
1 (14 oz) can of fire roasted tomatoes, well drained (I got some with green chilis in them to match with the lentils)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 TBS sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
2 TBS minced parsley
- Preheat the oven to 475. In a bowl, combine potatoes, oil, 1 tsp of paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Spread the potatoes on an oiled baking sheet and roast until crisp and browned, about 45 minutes, turning one halfway through.
- In a blender or food processor, combine tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, sugar, chili powder, cumin, remaining paprika and cayenne, and process until well blended. Transfer to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When sauce and potatoes are done, combine in a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.