I first met my friend Robin Asbell, cookbook author extraordinaire who has penned several amazing vegetarian cookbooks, as few years back and it was one of those things where we just immediately clicked. In one of those "opposites attract" situations, this meat-loving Latina and this vegetarian guru found plenty of common ground, and years later, we remain close friends.
Throughout the years, we've encouraged each other through writer's blocks and cheered each other enthusiastically through rounds of recipe-testing marathons. We talk a lot and laugh a lot. Robin has convinced me to eat less meat too. Mind you...meat is still on my menu--very much so. But now, I dedicate several meals a week to eating meatless. That means, my friends, means that I sometimes delve into the vegetarian--and dare I say it?--vegan world.
When Robin asked me to join her virtual blog party, her publisher sent me a copy of her book. I am delighted to participate. Not only because she is my friend and not only because she blogged about my book for my own virtual party, but because when if first read through the pages of BIG VEGAN: More than 350 Recipes No Meat/No Dairy All Delicious (Chronicle Books;2011), my mouth was watering and I couldn't wait to get into my kitchen to play with her recipes.
If you're a carnivore, like me, you may flinch at the idea of eating vegan. Personally, tofu belongs to the category of things that I steer away from in a conversation with friends, along with politics and religion. Let's just say that I have strong opinions about it and prefer to keep those to myself.
Yet, after a quick glance through the pages of Robin's book, filled with international flavors and comforting dishes, you'll understand how easy she's made it for me to change some of my eating habits. Recipes such as Green Apple and Cashew Spring Rolls, Avocado-Pepita Crostini, Braised Sweet Potato and Pecan Pasta, Lemony Quinoa-Almond Granola, and Spinach "Feta" Pies in Phyllo have made it easy for me to savor meatless meals.
This is a great book to include in any cook's library--vegan or not. Robins recipes are straightforward and truly succulent and if you don't believe me, try her recipe for Green and Red Spaghetti, below.
Soon, maybe--just maybe and I'm not promising--tofu may no longer be a four-letter word in my home. I wouldn't put it past Robin to convince me about that too. Or maybe you will. Chronicle Books has offered to send a give-away book to one of my readers. Give me your best attempt of ways in which I should try tofu to lose my aversion to it.
Whoever gives me the best suggestion, will win a free copy of BIG VEGAN. Just remember to add your email address to your comment so the good folks at Chronicle Books can contact you for a mailing address and send you a book. I will announce a winner at the end of November.
In the meantime, I leave you with Robin's magnificent recipe for Green and Red Spaghetti. It's the perfect juxtaposition of flavors and textures. A balance of crunchiness and creaminess combine seamlessly. I'm particularly fascinated by the combination of pistachios and avocados, which creat an explosion of "umami" in the palate, followed by a sweet and tangy bit of sun-dried tomatoes. It's easy to put together and cleanup is a cinch. Try it. You won't be dissapointed. I wasn't. In fact, I think I'll add an extra meatless meal to my winter menu.
Green and Red Spaghetti (Recipe from Big Vegan by Robin Asbell: Chronicle Books, 2011)
1 large avocado, cubed
1/2 cup or 15 g fresh parsley, chopped
8 large sun-dried tomatoe halves, rehydrated and chpped
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz/225 g dried whole-wheat/wholemeal spaghetti
2 cups/140g snap peas or snow peas/mangetouts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup/30g pistachios, finely chopped
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a serving bowl, combine the avocado, parsley, tomatoes, and oil.
2. Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions, adding the peas for the last 2 minutes. When the pasta is al dente, drain it well, and return it to the hot cooking pot. Dump in the avocado mixture. Over low heat, toss the pasta and sauce to heat them through and to let the oil absorb into the pasta. Add the salt and pepper.
3.Serve the pasta hot, topped with the pistachios.
Here are the other blogs from great food bloggers participating in this party. Check them out and join our virtual party!