Longtime vegan Lee Watson works as a vegan chef at a retreat center in Snowdonia National Park, Wales. In “Peace and Parsnips,” he collects 200 of his favorite recipes for smoothies, salads, nibbles, big plates, curries, burgers, desserts and more to prove that vegan food doesn’t have to be limited to spongy tofu and rubber-like nut cutlets. Inspired by his travels to Mexico, Turkish bazaars, Europe, Indian spice markets, and beyond, with minimal fuss and plenty of accessible ingredients he creates delicious meals that even carnivores will appreciate. With an emphasis on seasonality and mindful eating, you’ll find a well-rounded guide to the vegan pantry, including homemade nut milks (soy, cashew, almond, sprouted green lentil), spice blends, sauces and pestos, and even vegan feta that will allow you to create beautiful, healthful dishes that everyone can enjoy (in addition to being vegan, many of the recipes are also gluten-free).

Lee includes many international influences in his recipes from Latin America (tostadas with salsa verde, the Middle East (couscous, hummus, tabbouleh, mujaddara, falafel, muhammara), Europe (borscht, filo pie, eggplant involtini, pastas, tempeh chorizo), India (curries, koftas, pulao) and Asia (udon, lumpia, fried rice). You’ll also find a chapter devoted exclusively to “meaty” burgers from Portobello pecan to beet quarter-pounders, spinach bhaji burgers, chickpea, butternut, and apricot burgers, and puy lentil and walnut burgers.

The first recipe I tried was the kasha with rosemary, apricots, and walnuts. My Polish grandmother would frequently fix kasha when I was growing up; I have fond memories of the smell of kasha toasting in the pan before she would add mushrooms or turn it into pieróg lubelski (buckwheat pie in a pastry crust). I also love all things apricots and walnuts, so was interested to see how this flavor combination would work out. It was an incredibly satisfying combination of crunch (from the walnuts), toothsome buckwheat, and sweet notes from the apricots, plus it freezes well. This may be my new favorite way to serve kasha, and will definitely be going on my lunchtime rotation again soon!

The maple and orange-glazed tempeh with bok choy and soba noodles is another winner; I used green tea (matcha) soba as that is what I had on hand, and shimadofu (Okinawan tofu) as tofu is suggested as a possible variation. The beautifully citrus-infused tofu contrasts with the savory soy-based broth (I left out the cilantro as it is not commonly used with noodle dishes here in Japan).

I also loved Lee’s stuffed dishes, like the leek and wild mushroom-stuffed potato skins with lemon and chive yogurt, and his many ideas for millet. Although I regularly cook with whole grains, millet is new to me, and I loved the idea of using it as a filling for chard leaves (beet, millet, and raisin-stuffed ruby chard bundles with brazil nut and rosemary cream).

Along the way, gorgeous photographs by Alistair Richardson on matte pages (which makes it MUCH easier to cook from) makes for an attractive presentation, and I appreciated that both the metric and US measurements are listed (many times when books are adapted for the US market, the metric measurements are left out, but I prefer to cook in metric if that’s how the book was written / tested). I also appreciate that unlike many vegan cookbooks, Lee avoids the heavily processed soy meat and cheese/dairy analogs (faux chick’n nuggets, ground “beef,” soy “cheese,” etc.) in favor of tempeh, tofu, or homemade alternatives.

Whether you’re a longtime vegan, a transitioning vegan, or simply someone who appreciates good food and is looking for healthy and delicious weeknight meals, “Peace and Parsnips” deserves a spot on your shelf!

(Review copy courtesy of my friends at The Experiment)

Published by Bundt Lust