This post is part of the ppk’s 2011 cookbook challenge.
It seems silly to even review The Veganomicon because I feel like most people already have it. That probably tells you more about my circle than anything else. Or that I spend a lot of time in the vegan blogosphere. Or that everyone I know is awesome.
I have seen posts about this book where people try and cook from it for a week, or even a year. I have seen people debate if it is really the ultimate vegan cookbook. (My answer, yes) I think a big part of the reason for all the chatter is that it really did usher in the change. The Veganomicon took vegan food from a health food or animal rights niche to a full on cuisine which in turn helped both those causes. When the Veganomicon came out just a couple years ago it mingled with the vegetarian cookbooks on a shelf at Book People. Now vegans have a whole case in the store and there are so many titles coming out every month that us vegan food bloggers and food enthusiasts can’t keep up with them.
I have read that the Veganomicon is difficult for beginners and I have to disagree. I have personally recommended the book to so many folks who don’t know their soft tofu from their silken tofu and they have all seemed pretty happy with it. It is my boyfriend’s favorite cookbook and before he read the Veganomicon he only made pasta. He tells his friends & family about it and then they get it and wander off to whole foods looking for porcini mushrooms and unground nutmeg. It is true some of the recipes are involved but when you sink your teeth into the Moussaka or the Caluliflower and Mushroom Pot Pie with olive biscuit topping it will all be worth it I promise.
I recommend the book to beginners all the time because if you actually read it you will learn everything you need to know about vegan cooking and if you still can’t figure something out it is the only book in the world (well that I know of) that has a whole forum of friendly people who have tried every recipe and will tell you what to do and give you advice if you are confused.
There are a lot of simple recipes that have blown my mind like the olivey roasted red pepper and eggplant goodness of the Muffulatta Sandwich
or the SmokeyGrilled Tempeh that you can use the same marinade for your greens for easy cooking.
There are recipes for breakfast (or brunch or dinner) like the Asparagus Tarragon Quiche
There are instructions for how to marinate and grill portobellos and any other vegetable you would ever want to grill and recipes for simple summer eating like the best barbecued tofu ever
There are holiday standards like cranberry sauce and new and amazing holiday recipes like carmelized onion & butternut roast chestnut casserole.
There are dishes for things I never in my life would have thought of like Gazborsht (a cold soup that is a cross between gazpacho and borsht that is fabulous on a hot day with just picked tomatoes) or Lemongrass Asparagus risotto
and there are recipes for things that we make so regularly we hardly have to look at the recipe like Mac Daddy and Chickpea Cutlets (which you can make with lentils if you are short on time and money)
There are even recipes that you can serve people who really do not want anything to do with vegan food but end up enjoying anyway like fried eggplant rollatini
and recipes for things you can stack up like broccoli polenta and Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale and sun-dried tomatoes
There are side dishes, sauces, dips, appetizers, basic recipes like seitan, desserts, bread, muffins, breakfast and even ice cream. Almost any occasion you could ever think of you can find a recipe in the Veganomicon which makes in invaluable for everyone having a party or a family.
Now I realize this review is starting to sound like a goddamn commercial so I will tell you what I don’t like too. For one, I wish the recipes were each on their own page, preferably with a picture like Vegan Brunch. I hate having to flip back and forth when my hands a million times to read the ingredients. I also think the estimated preparation times are completely inaccurate and vary so widely that I try to not even look at them. But maybe that is because sometimes I cook like lightning and sometimes I can’t find my food processor. My version has a couple of serious typos and things that we omitted but I bet later versions have corrected this. And there are some recipes I haven’t liked but I still always have complete faith in trying new ones because I am constantly amazed by the Veganomicon.
If you haven’t picked up a copy I recommend you check it out. If nothing else you’ll probably laugh a lot and be inspired to make some really good food even if you don’t usually cook. If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian you can still get a lot out of this book, there are recipes in here for almost every vegetable and tons of easy soups and side dishes. If you like food and you are curious to see what vegan cuisine can be this is the one to read.
I agree–the lasagne is fantastic and while the pumpkin-sage ziti and smlove pie are both a shit-ton of work, they’re so good I forget all about how long it took to make them. If I had to sacrifice all my cookbooks but one to the gods of veganism, this is the one I’d keep.
WOW food looks amazing!
The muli-page recipes can indeed get annoying- but i’ve learned to deal with it… I just got this in november and Its become a consistent favorite!
Great review and beautiful pictures!
Another thing I’ve heard about Veganomicon is that it was the first widely-known vegan cookbook that looked like other cookbooks. The punk aesthetic was not present as it had been in other popular books, and there wasn’t a health food motif either. Now, I’ve only heard this from non-vegans, so I don’t know how true it is, but there is an existing perception that Veganomicon looked and felt so mainstream that it was better equipped to reach a wider audience of cooks.
Candy Beans, that interesting it does seem less folksy than other books but on the other hand it is called the Veganomicon which isn’t very mainstream sounding to me.
Great review! I haven’t made anything from this book for a while although I love it. Time to change that!
I already have this book, but still enjoyed reading your thoughts and seeing your pix. I haven’t tried nearly enough recipes from it yet.
This post makes me want to grab Vcon and cook everything I can from it! Great review!