Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Solstice with The New Vegan

Yesterday was the first day of summer, my very favorite season. I love 90-degree days and sticky, Southern humidity. I love tank tops, short shorts, and flip-flops. I love juicy, red tomatoes and sweet, sweet watermelon (with lots of salt, of course). This is my time.

I celebrated the Solstice with a fresh, light meal made with seasonal produce acquired from the new Curb Market — a local produce market just a couple blocks from my house. The recipes came from The New Vegan, the latest book by Pea Soup blogger/actress Aine Carlin.

Much like Aine's first book, Keep It Vegan, this new cookbook is stunning. Nearly every recipe is accompanied by a full-color photograph of a rustically styled dish that looks almost too gorgeous to eat. The book is printed on heavy, matte paper that makes it feel even more special. Aine relies on fresh, seasonal produce to create her dishes, which tend to be veggie-heavy. You won't find any faux meats called for in this book, and there really aren't even many dishes with tofu (just a handful). She really focuses on the magic of vegetables for the main courses.

For Solstice, I chose to make her Scandinavian-Style Open Sandwiches, using the recipe for Tomato, Easy Cashew Cheese, & Red Onion. 

The open sandwiches recipe provides several topping options. There's a beet/minted pea and a pickled cucumber/cannellini bean as well, but this tomato one just screamed summer since tomatoes are FINALLY in season down here. The cashew cheese base is super simple — just a basic cashew cheese spread made in the blender and then mixed with chopped, fresh chives (from my garden). It's topped with fresh tomato slices, thinly sliced red onion, and capers and served on toasted rye.

On the side, I made Crunchy Broccoli & Carrot Salad with Ginger Garlic Dressing.

I used fresh, local broccoli and carrots for this. The recipe didn't call for steaming the broccoli, but I don't like raw broccoli, so I lightly steamed it first. That's mixed with grated carrot, toasted almonds, cilantro, and an easy ginger-garlic vinaigrette. I cut the oil way back in the vinaigrette from 2 tablespoons to a 1/2 tablespoon, just because I prefer less oil. I loved the crunchy veggies marinated in this super-garlicky, spicy ginger dressing. The toasted almonds really brought it all together.

Aine's book is divided into chapters on breakfasts, snacks/lunches, easy meals, special meals, and desserts. From the breakfast chapter, I'll definitely be trying the Stovetop Beans with a Twist soon. These are baked beans served on toast, European-style (Aine is from Cornwall). The "twist" refers to the fact that these beans are cooked with Asian flavors, like chile, garlic, and ginger.

I've also got my eye on the Tofu Ricotta Toast and the Thai-Inspired Spiralized Salad (with zucchini and cucumber noodles) from the lunches chapter. The easy meals chapter focuses on weeknight meals with only a few steps, like Tortilla Soup, Green Spinach & Lentil Curry, and Crunchy Cauliflower Couscous, while the special meals are a bit more complicated but totally impressive — think Jerk Cauliflower Steaks and Ceviche-Style Mushrooms. As for desserts, I MUST make Aine's Banoffe Pie soon! It's a gluten-free, healthier version made with a pecan crust, date caramel filling, coconut cream, banana, and dark chocolate.

Happy Summer, y'all!


vegan peace said...

I think summer is the perfect time to let vegetables shine! Your open face sandwich looks beautiful. Nothing better than a summer tomato! The salad looks delicious too! Very colorful meal! The beans with an Asian twist sound really great. I can't wait to see what else you make from this book!

Sarah said...

I LOVE summer produce as well! I'm so excited for watermelon and berries and cherries and tomatoes :) The open face sandwich looks amazing. The cheese looks so creamy! Everything looks really fresh too which is another great thing about summer :) And I would have to say that life is definitely better in flip flops. You can have the humidity though, ha! And there sure is plenty of it here in NY.

shira said...

I just checked this book out on Amazon after reading this review and it's currently under $4 for the paperback! Pretty good deal.

Evelyn Hana said...

Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time. myself very happy to read it because it can give me more insight,thanks
dewa poker said...

Those open sandwiches look so delicious, perfect summer food.

Susan said...

I love Aine's books, I used her Keep It Vegan to make my winter solstice dinner!