When you get down to it, most people find that the biggest barrier to eating well is time. Planning, shopping, cooking, all take time, and it’s way easier to just grab some fast food. Well, if you are using that as your excuse to not eat balanced, whole foods vegan meals, your excuse is now officially crumbling before your eyes. Robin Robertson, one of the most prolific cookbook authors I know of, has now conquered the time-crunch-and done it deliciously.
You can’t stand in the cookbook aisle and not know Robin Robertson’s name. She is the author of 19 cookbooks so far, and seems to have an amazing ability to just keep cranking out useful, creative books.
In her latest, Quick-Fix Vegan Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (Andrews McMeel $16.99), Robertson cuts to the chase and puts together good food simply. If you were thinking of slapping together a sandwich, you may as well make on of hers, full of vibrant veggies and flavors, instead of the same old pb and j. It doesn’t really take much more time.
The book is filled with global flavors, making the most of the exciting tastes of far-flung places, like Morocco, Vietnam,Mexico and more. Vegan food is an adventure when you search the world for the dishes with great tastes that can do plant-based.
The very first chapter is an introduction to the mind-set of a fast cook, called quick-fix vegan basics. Right away, she says to be flexible- if you don’t have an ingredient, substitute. Arrange your space and tools for easy access, and set up your pantry are just a few of the things she urges you to do to get fast meals on the table. She also gives you a run-down on which whole grains cook fastest, and which ingredient short-cuts are worth trying. It’s a great intro to the fast and furious way of getting real food on the table.
With chapters on Starters and Snacks, Stovetop Suppers, Pasta, Soup, Sandwiches, Salads and Make Ahead Bakes, Robertson displays a skill for cutting out unnecessary steps and ingredients. A quick chop, a fast cook, and you are eating dinner, and it’s vegan. She also has chapters on condiments and desserts, essential add-ons for the hurried cook.
It was a real pleasure making dishes from the book. Like everyone else, I don’t have a ton of time, so quick is always good. Reading and cooking from Robertson’s recipes, I admire the way her mind works. As a fellow recipe developer, I can appreciate a well-crafted recipe. These recipes are simplified, but still interesting, and follow the shortest path from point A to point B. Simple looks easy, but it takes skill to make it that way.
I also appreciate the use of whole foods, like beans, nuts and seeds, and the near absence of mock meats. Just because you are in a hurry, doesn’t mean you have to go in for vegan bologna or burgers every night, in Robertson’s kitchen.
Another useful and practical book, from Robin Robertson. I’m sure there will be more to come.
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans or one 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup tomato salsa (divided)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, divided
salt and pepper
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon mellow white miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
6 cups tortilla chips
GARNISHES: 1/2 cup vegan sour cream, 1/3 cup sliced black olives, 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos, 2 tablespoons scallions
Pereheat the oven to 400F. Grease a -inch baking dish. In a small saucepan, heat the beans with half of the salsa, 1 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, mashing and stirring, until hot, about 4 minutes. Spread in the dish.
Halve, pit and chop the avocado and reserve.
In a small skillet, mix the nutritional yeast, flour, miso, lemon, mustard, onion powder, cumin, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and the non-dairy milk. Whisk until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk over medium heat until it boils and thickens.
Spread the chips over the beans, then drizzle the sauce over the chips. Bake until hot, about 5 minutes. Serve topped with remaining salsa and all the garnishes.
I used fresh red fresnos instead of pickled jalapenos, and I didn’t have the vegan sour cream.
Vietnamese Tofu Wraps
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut in 1/4 inch wide strips
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce, plus more for serving
4 10 -inch flour tortillas
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons bottled jalapenos
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown, turning frequently, 7-10 minutes. Add the hoisin, soy sauce, and 1 tsp sriracha, stirring to coat the tofu. Take off the heat to cool. To assemble the wraps, spread the tortillas with vegan mayo and drizzle with srirach to taste. Arrange 1/ of te tofu in the center, then top with cucumber, carrot, cilantro and jalapenos. Wrap and serve.