My current schedule does not allow me the time to cook as many elaborate meals as I used to, but that doesn’t mean I will compromise my family’s diet with frozen dinners or processed convenience foods. I have enjoyed Lorna Sass’s cookbook, Short Cut Vegan, for many years and went looking for a companion that offers more ideas for easy-to-make plant-based meals. Robin Robertson has long been a favorite cookbook author, so I checked out Quick Fix Vegan from the library for a test drive.
(The book was originally published in October 2011. Hopefully this belated review will be useful for somebody!)
At a glance, Quick-Fix Vegan provides 150 vegan recipes ranging from starters, snacks, salads, sauces, and sandwiches to stovetop suppers, pastas, soups, and desserts that can all be (allegedly) prepared in 30 minutes or less. It also features “Make-Ahead Bakes,” recipes that are assembled ahead of time (in less than 30 minutes) and then baked before serving. Rather than relying on packaged, highly processed faux meats and cheeses, I love that Robin’s recipes are made from inexpensive, healthful, and hearty whole foods with modest amounts of minimally processed ingredients like tofu and seitan.
Quick Fix Vegan is also laid out nicely, in an uncluttered, easy-to-read format with one recipe per page. At the front of the book there are basic tips on how to stock you pantry, how to save money on food, and how to clean and store veggies for quicker meal preparation. There are also some basics on tofu, seitan, non-dairy milk, etc., which can be helpful to new cooks and a quick refresher for those with more experience.
We’ve cooked out of it for three weeks now and almost all of the recipes were on the table in less than 30 minutes. Here are some of our favorites:
- Coconut-Curry Cauliflower and Chickpeas: We made this with full-fat coconut milk and thought it was deliciously rich. The quality of the dish is dependent on the quality of your curry powder, so use a good one!
- Moroccan Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach: I was not sure whether this was going to be as good as Sass’s Chickpea Curry in a Hurry. It was different and quite tasty – a keeper!
- Spicy Red Bean Slaw: So good we’ve made this twice!
- Lebanese Sleek: We loved the combination of kale and black-eyed peas. The spice mix she suggests if you can’t get your hands on commercial mixes is outstanding.
- Green Chile Tofu Migas: I love tofu scrambles, but Nick…no so much. This one got his approval, though.
- Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad: Hearty and delicious.
- Spicy Peanut Hoisin Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu: I omitted the noodles and simply poured the sauce over steamed broccoli and tofu for dinner one night. Yum!
- Cannellini Pesto: Served this over noodles and roasted cauliflower and roasted cherry tomatoes. I found it a tad on the garlicky side, but Nick was doing a happy dance.
- Quinoa and Chard with Sherry-Glazed Mushrooms: I had my doubts that I’d be able to finish this dish in 30 minutes, but 27 minutes later I was calling Nick out of the garden. It is killer one-dish meal.
- Quinoa Salad with Apples and Walnuts: Oh-la-la! A perfect picnic salad!
And some not-so-favorites:
- Smoky Chipotle-Chocolate Chili: I had high hopes for this dish. It was pretty good, but I have another recipe with similar flavors that I like better.
- Tuscan Kale Lasagna: I made the mistake of making this with ready-bake rice noodles. The resulting dish was only okay. I partly blame the noodles, but I also think it was a little heavy on the tofu. If I make it again, I will definitely tweak the recipe to our liking.
Based on the recipes we’ve tried so far, I’m inclined to buy it and continue trying many more of the recipes in here, especially in the salads and make-ahead bakes chapters.