I didn't think twice before saying yes when the publisher of Terry Walters' new cookbook, Clean Start, asked me to review the full-color, hardcover tome. I'd once borrowed (and delighted in) a co-worker's copy of Terry's first book, Clean Food, so I knew her second work would be equally awesome. And I was right.
Terry emphasizes eating whole, plant foods based on what's in season. As far as I can tell, she never uses the word "vegan" in her books, but there's no animal products in her food. It's a clever way to reel in the locavore omnis. Even totally un-vegan Chef Mario Batali offers this praise for Clean Food on the book's jacket: "Clean Food is the most exciting book based on fresh produce and simple recipes I have used in years. Yum!" Haha! I love that Mario Batali ends that statement with "yum."
Anyway, Terry's recipes are super-simple and rely solely on vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and the occasional protein (like beans or tempeh). My only complaint is the book can be a little too gourmet for my budget. For example, I spent about $20 to make this Festive Quinoa with Apricots and Orange Zest from Clean Start's Spring chapter:
The only brand of red quinoa at Whole Foods was fair-trade and cost $7 a bag! The pine nuts were $5 for 1/2 cup (the recipe called for a whole cup, but I don't have that kind of money). The dried apricots cost $5 for a container, and I could only find organic fennel for $3.49. Honestly, when I glanced at the recipe, I knew it'd be sort of costly, but damn. I didn't expect all of that. I was just eager to cook with red quinoa and try fennel for the first time. Turns out, I don't hate fennel after all.
Would I make this quinoa dish again? It's doubtful. But it was tasty. Just way too expensive. A much cheaper option from the Spring chapter was this soothing bowl of Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup:
Oh my gawd, y'all. This soup stole my heart. I adore roasted garlic and roasted cauliflower, and this soup relies on both to bring a rich, almost-caramelized taste that I just adored. I wish I had, like, five more bowls of it. And since it only called for a few pantry items, plus fresh garlic and cauliflower, it was more economical to make.
My very favorite recipe so far from the Spring chapter has been this Polenta Pizza with Chard and Parsley-Walnut Pesto:
Doesn't that just look fancy as all hell? The crust is made from herbed corn grits that have been cooked up polenta-style, cooled in a pie pan, and then baked in the oven. The topping is a parsley pesto made with walnuts (better than those expensive-ass pine nuts) and sauteed Swiss chard and red onions. I topped each slice with sriracha (of course!) and Parma and served with a green salad.
I can't wait until summer gets here, so I can move on to the Summer chapter. There's a Peach Gazpacho with Heirloom Tomatoes and a Chilled Chickpea, Tomatillo, and Avocado Soup that are just calling my name.