Book Report: The Edgy Veg + Bonus Recipe for The Token Kale Salad

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Photo credit: Brilynn Ferguson

When I went vegan over a decade ago, there weren’t that many vegan cookbooks. Nowadays, a new book comes out each week! There is a kind of vegan genre happening right now – mac and cheese, jackfruit, cauliflower, meatless meatballs, baked goods, and of course, kale salads. Each book has their own spin on things and this one is no exception. I am talking today about The Edgy Veg  by Candice Hutchings from the blog The Edgy Veg (duh!)

The subtitle is 138 Carnivore Approved Recipes which explains the way Candice approaches recipes. She became vegan years ago but wanted to offer her not vegan husband recipes he would approve of. She repurposed family recipes, on trend meals and veganized fast food faves.

And now they are all here in this well designed and easy to read to book. The recipe titles are funny, the headers are slightly irreverent but appealing, and the whole tone of the book is down to earth. The recipes are really detailed including photos for almost every recipe, hacks for when you need to change it up, what equipment you need, and easy to spot icons for gluten-free, quick and easy recipes and recipes that are great for entertaining.

The book is organized into the usual sections: basics, brunch,  soups, salads, snacks, main dishes, side dishes, drinks and desserts. One way I can tell if I am going to like a cookbook is if there are recipes for things I already make myself and there are a fair number in this book like pizza, gnocchi, mayo, bacon, pesto, pancakes, slaw, tacos and even carrot lox (although I still love mine the best!)

And then there are these recipes. Do you like seitan? Become a Master of Seitan: Chicken and Seitan Mastery 2.0: Beef. How about bacon? The recipe is called Bacon, Tho (Bacon 4 ways: coconut, mushroom, rice paper and eggplant.)

Of course there are salads like Deconstructed Pizza Salad and The Token Kale Salad (see below). I happen to love popcorn and there is a cool recipe for Theater Popcorn and Flavor Shakers (Dill Pickle, Nacho Cheese, Chili Cheese, and Salted Chocolate (brilliant!) and Cool Ranch). This really got me: Buffalo Cauliflower Wings 7 ways (7!).  And I love this take on a classic dinner: Steaks with Béarnaise Sauce (that’s portobellos.) The Brussels Sprouts That Don’t Suck recipe is fantastic. I agree, they don’t suck when made this way. And don’t forget dessert: Death by Chocolate Mousse (made with aquafaba!)

By far, the two recipes I am most excited about in this book are the Easy Cheesy Fondue and the Mason-Dixon Crab Melt (which uses the fondue in it). They are incredibly creative and I can just tell by looking at them that they are winners.

My only issue with this book is that it uses some prepackaged vegan meats (like Tofurky, ewww, gross) which I don’t think belong in a well thought out cookbook. Otherwise, I think this is a great book for vegans who are looking for some creative recipes, new and non-vegans who need smart, transitional foods that will bring them over to our side!

Check out The Token Kale Salad, which I got permission to reprint. It’s definitely creative, the dressing is pesto! Why didn’t I think of that?

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Photo credit: Brilynn Ferguson

The Token Kale Salad
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main

As the saying goes, “You don’t make friends with salad” — until you do. This kale and pesto salad is so beyond run-of-the-mill. Pasta sauce on salad? Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? It’s a match made in BFF heaven. It’s delicious on its own, but let’s face it: salad is a sad meal, so pair it with a burger (pages 209 to 213) or a hearty bowl of Half-Baked Mac and Cheese (page 170). Now, that’s what I call balance.

4 cups shredded dinosaur kale 1 L
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 30 mL
1-1/2 cups Presto, Pesto (page 54) 375 mL
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved 125 mL
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper 125 mL
1/4 cup finely diced red onion 60 mL
2 tbsp nutritional yeast 30 mL
1 tbsp hemp seeds 15 mL
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cashews 60 mL

In a large bowl, drizzle kale with olive oil and massage leaves with your hands. Add pesto and continue to massage, until kale is completely coated. Add tomatoes, red pepper and red onion to salad. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, hemp seeds and sea salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine and top with cashews to serve.

Hack It!
It might seem a bit strange to massage your food, but you’ll be amazed at what a quick five-minute rubdown can do. Take handfuls of kale and rub them together. Play some spa music, for the full effect. As you massage, you will start to notice the leaves getting darker in color and becoming silky in texture. The longer you massage your kale, the more it will break down and become less bitter. Massage kale with pesto or dressing of choice and refrigerate up to 48 hours in advance.

Presto, Pesto
Makes 1 1/4 cups (300 mL)

Pesto is the quickest and easiest sauce to make, and it can take any meal from drab to fab. When I was in university, I literally put the stuff on everything: pasta, salad and personal- size pita pizzas. When it comes to sauces, pesto is the besto.

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil 500 mL
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds 125 mL
2 garlic cloves 2
3 tbsp nutritional yeast 45 mL
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil 60 to 125 mL
Sea salt

In a food processor, combine basil, sunflower seeds, garlic and nutritional yeast; process until a coarse meal forms.

Slowly add 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil in a steady drizzle through the feed tube as you pulse. Process until it forms a smooth paste. Add more olive oil, if necessary, if the mixture is too dry. You want the pesto to be moist and spreadable. Season with sea salt to taste.

Store in the fridge for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Hack It!
Add a handful of other fresh herbs for a fun flavor twist. Mint and oregano are my personal faves.

Courtesy of The Edgy Veg: 138 Carnivore Approved Recipes by Candice Hutchings and James Aita © 2017 www.robertrose.ca Available where books are sold.

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