Once an unabashed cheese lover, and for a time even a Fromagier, Kristy Turner thought she could never go vegan. But I Could Never Go Vegan! takes inspiration from her own personal journey and helps others along their own journey towards being more informed, educated and skilled in preparing hearty, healthy and flavorsome vegan food. For more on But I Could Never Go Vegan!, take a look at the publisher’s trailer.
As a long time follower, reader and fan of Kristy Turner’s Keepin’ It Kind blog, I was excited when Kristy released her cookbook back in December of 2014. Since I was a recipe tester for this cookbook, I knew in advance how awesome it would be. But while I had a chance to preview a few recipes, I didn’t have a chance to see the finished product, complete with enticing photos from her husband and photographer Chris Miller.
Nearly every one of the 125 recipes in this 320 page cookbook has tempting, full color photos that are bound to inspire you to want to cook. The broad selection of recipes from a myriad of international cuisines includes both savory and sweet dishes. Recipes are easy to follow and prepare and the color-coded initialed quick reference guide at the top of each recipe is especially useful for a few common notes, including – GF (Gluten-Free), SF (Soy-Free), NF (Nut-Free), TG (Can be made to go), and PA (Plan ahead-1 or more ingredients must be prepared in advance)
But I Could Never Go Vegan! has a lovely aesthetic both inside and out. Bright and inviting photos are paired perfectly with the clear, organized recipe layouts. It’s a warm and welcoming cookbook, with salivating recipes throughout that will inspire you to craft your own unique adaptations over time. Kristy’s recipes are versatile in a way that I can imagine using ingredients, methods, techniques and parts of her recipes to improve other dishes I make at home.
Along with 125 recipes, the cookbook also includes an introduction that provides notes on transitioning to a plant-based diet including tips and advice for useful ingredients and appliances. What I love about this cookbook is how Kristy is able to address the transition to a plant-based diet in a fairly frank and playful way. Chapters are quirkily named after some of the common questions, reactions and concerns people have about vegan food. The thematic approach means that the table of contents comprises fun (and occasionally funny) chapters like “I Could Never Give Up Cheese (Cheesy vegan dishes)” and “Can’t I Be Pescatarian Instead? (Seafood-inspired dishes that will reel you in)”.
We had a great time with this cookbook. Kristy’s dishes are always visually appealing and flavorsome. Her recipes use a lot of fresh ingredients and suggest making elements from scratch, including homemade cheeses and faux-meats. Don’t be intimidated by this though, her recipes are helpful and even accommodate variations along the way. We often found her savory dishes to be on the sweeter side, so we were able to make our own variations according to our taste to reduce the sweetness and simultaneously increase the heat or introduce a spicier element.
It gives me great confidence in a cookbook when your dish turns out looking like the pictures and our dishes consistently came out looking like the pictures from But I Could Never Go Vegan. Kristy has mastered the craft of writing recipes.
I can’t wait to try more from But I Could Never Go Vegan, especially the vegan cheeses! This is a truly wonderful cookbook for anyone who enjoys good food and the perfect addition for people making the transition to a plant-based diet.
We’ve made a variety of recipes from But I Could Never Go Vegan, including:
Roasted Broccoli & Apple Salad
Potato & Pea Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Sauce
Sweet & Sour Cauliflower
Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom-Sauerkraut Gravy (recipe)
I have permission to share one recipe, Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom-Sauerkraut Gravy.
Page 24-25, Basic Condiments And Components That Don’t Break the Bank
I don’t often crumble tempeh with my hands, so I enjoyed utilizing my tempeh in a different way. The preparation methods make this tempeh a great vehicle for flavor and texture. The marinade has a smoky, somewhat sweet flavor and the longer you marinate the stronger the flavor becomes and the longer you cook the drier the tempeh bits get. I can think of a number of great uses for these crumbles and the rich, savory flavor is a nice addition to many dishes. The final product is like freshly made bacon bits, but you can alter the ingredients slightly to achieve a more Asian or Latin flavor. I look forward to playing around with this recipe to tailor the flavors for specific dishes.
Tip: I used Tofurky organic five grain tempeh and it worked well for me, I recommend marinating the tempeh overnight for a more intensely ‘bacon’ flavored crumble!
The Tempeh Bacon recipe is available at But I Could Never Go Vegan! (Amazon.com).
Roasted Broccoli & Apple Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Page 116-17, Entree Salads That Demand Your Attention
This inventive salad is full of flavor and texture. The combination of cooked and raw ingredients gives the salad a freshness while also being very hearty. The dressing was a bit sweet, so the tempeh bacon helped to balance that out. To make our dressing a little thicker we added some additional tahini and kept it in the fridge for an hour before serving. I really like the crunchy tempeh and almonds for added texture, they make a nice gluten-free alternative to croutons. The roasted broccoli was a nice addition and something we will likely add to rice or quinoa bowls in the future. Most of the ingredients in this salad are optional or can easily be substituted for what you have on hand, like dried cranberries in place of dried cherries or capsicum in place of celery.
Tip: To thicken the dressing, add an extra tablespoon of tahini. We only used 1 apple and ¼ of a red onion and found the portions to be perfect for our taste.
The Roasted Broccoli & Apple Salad recipe is available at But I Could Never Go Vegan! (Amazon.com).
Potato & Pea Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Sauce
Page 138-39, Solid Vegan Recipes That Aren’t Imitating Meat, Dairy or Anything Else
These make a surprisingly hearty meal for 2 people or filling snacks for 4 people. The use of tamarind paste and ginger in the sauce really helps to bring this dish to life and the bright flavors of the sweet and sour tamarind sauce pairs perfectly with the samosa cakes. Make the sauce thicker and it will really stick to the samosa cakes. The use of chickpea flour not only gives this a nice flavor but also helps to make them gluten-free and nut-free.
Tip: Since there are natural sugars in tamarind paste that make it a bit sweet, we halved the agave syrup in the sauce recipe. The sauce was a bit thin, so I would suggest gradually adding the water until reaching your desired consistency. Since the Potato & Pea Samosa Cakes recipe calls for curry powder and cumin, be sure to use a curry powder that doesn’t have a dominant cumin flavor.
The Potato & Pea Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Sauce recipe is available at But I Could Never Go Vegan! (Amazon.com).
Sweet & Sour Cauliflower
Page 242-43, Recipes to Convert Veggie-Haters into Lovers
I was searching for something Asian to try in the cookbook and came across Sweet & Sour Cauliflower. The flavors were quite sweet with a familiar Asian-American quality to it that is bound to appeal to those familiar with the sweet & sour across restaurants and markets in the West. I would love something funky or spicy to really enhance and round of the flavors since it’s a bit too sweet for my taste. This was such a quick and easy dish that’s bound to please a wide variety of people. The cauliflower is a great alternative to soy or seitan meat substitutes and this dish is gluten-free and nut-free.
Tip: The dish was a bit sweet for us. To make it a bit more savory and spicy, use less coconut sugar, replace ground ginger with fresh ginger and top with additional sriracha!
The Sweet & Sour Cauliflower recipe is available at But I Could Never Go Vegan! (Amazon.com).
Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom-Sauerkraut Gravy
Page 228-29, No Way. I’m Italian! (Or Southern/German/Mexican/French!)
On a flight aboard a German airline, my husband and I were accidentally served non-vegan pretzel dumplings in a creamy mushroom gravy. We were tantalized by the dish until a stewardess took it away. For months and months, I dreamed of recreating that dish we were teased with. This vegan version is even more appetizing than the original, made with two of everyone's favorite German vegan foods: sauerkraut and soft pretzels. Soft pretzels are almost always vegan (though some may use butter or an egg wash to keep the salt on or be sweetened with honey, so it's good to check). They make for a hearty, flavorful dumpling, while sauerkraut makes this mushroom gravy very robust.
Place the pretzel pieces in a large bowl. Add the warm non-dairy milk to the bowl and stir until all the pieces are submerged. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, use a potato masher to mash the pretzel pieces for a couple of minutes, until a little mushier, with chunks still remaining. Add the shallots, bread crumbs, flour, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper.
While the pretzel pieces are soaking, start the gravy. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together 2 cups of the broth with the arrowroot powder. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is just starting to become translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the broth mixture and the remaining 2 cups of broth. Stir in the sauerkraut, sage, thyme and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced. Add the nutritional yeast, taste, and add salt if necessary.
Measure out a scoop of the mixture (using a ⅓-cup/80 mL scoop for smaller dumplings or a ½-cup/120 mL scoop for larger dumplings). Gently shape into a ball and place into the gravy. Repeat with the remaining dumpling mixture. It is ok if the dumplings are close or barely touching, but try to space them evenly. Simmer (not boil) for 15 minutes. Gently flip over the dumplings and simmer for 5 more minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the dumplings; serve them topped with the gravy. Leftovers can be chilled in an airtight container 1 to 2 days.
Recipe from But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over Dinner, copyright © Kristy Turner, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.
• I use Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels in Traditional Bavarian, a vegan brand of frozen soft pretzels available at a variety of stores. Bake them and let them sit out to cool a few hours before making the dumplings.
• If you purchase pretzels from a bakery, do so a day or two prior to making the dumplings so they can get a little stale, and opt for unsalted if possible. Otherwise, brush most of the salt off before tearing them into pieces.
• To warm the non-dairy milk, microwave for about 1 minute or warm on the stovetop over medium heat for a couple of minutes. It should be warm but not too warm to comfortably touch.
More But I Could Never Go Vegan! Recipes
Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potato from JL Goes Vegan
Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potato from The Taste Space
BBQ Bacon Burgers from Olives for Dinner
Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast from Pickles & Honey
Maple Baked Beans & Cornbread Casserole from Fettle Vegan
Potato & Pea Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Sauce from Healthy Slow Cooking
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vegan Chickpea
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from My Darling Vegan
Roasted Broccoli & Apple Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing from Choosing Raw
White Bean & Portobello Stew from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen
White Bean & Portobello Stew from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
US + Canada Giveaway
Kristy Turner and her publisher The Experiment are giving away one copy of But I Could Never Go Vegan! to US/Canada only. The giveaway will run through 11:59pm PST on 21st February 2015.
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