Book Report: The Wicked Healthy Cookbook (Free. From. Animals.) + Bonus Recipe for King Oyster Scallops

I’ve been waiting a long time for the guys behind Wicked Healthy to write a cookbook and today’s the day! It’s the official release of the The Wicked Healthy Cookbook – a plant-based, ground breaking, game changing book that is 80% healthy and 20% wicked (which equals 100% sexy!)

Chefs Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno are brothers and I have been following them for a long time. Chad was my teacher when I did the Plant-Based Pro Certification (I was the first ever graduate of the program!) and Derek is one of my biggest inspirations especially for pressing mushrooms on cast iron pans.

The book starts with personal introductions where the brothers talk about their backgrounds – a little doorway into their personal reasons for cooking. I found this part to be really heartfelt and profound, giving me a better understanding of who they are and what influences their food, which in turn, makes me want to experience their recipes even more.

Before diving into 125 recipes for every day cooking and special occasions, the authors cover the conscious cook’s mindset including how to reset your pantry, how to choose the best ingredients and how to cook without adding processed sugar and minimal salt and fat. Then, they give advice on how to build flavor, create appealing texture, and make the food look good. This is written differently than other cookbooks that have come out recently because these guys are professional chefs and actually know what they are doing, distilling their experiences down into “Pro Tips” and advice for the home cook.

The recipe section opens with “First Bites” and of course, I made the Avocado Toasts with Radishes and Meyer Lemon because I have to make the avo toast from every cookbook and the Minted Pea Ricotta, Grilled Zucchini and Charred Lemon Toasts because ricotta is one of my favorite food groups!

Then I made the most amazing dish, one that is destined to become a classic, the King Oyster Scallops. I followed the recipe for the scallops exactly but I served them with asparagus and crispy shallots because I saw a little video that Wicked Healthy posted on their Instagram and decided to make it that way. The recipe in the book calls for shaved asparagus and corona butter and luckily, we have that recipe at the end of this post!

I can’t wait to make the King Satay, that’s satay using King Oyster Mushrooms, hello, brilliant, and the Chickpea Blintzes with Cashew Sour Cream, Apples and Dill. There are also recipes for Smoked Tofu Dumplings, Corn Dumplings and Lion’s Mane Steaks which are on my list as soon as I work up the courage for the dumplings and find Lion’s Mane mushrooms.

In the “Handhelds” section, they tee it up with sourdough starter, pizza dough and tons of pizza variations. I skipped that for now and went straight for the Grilled Almond Butter, Chocolate, and Raspberry Sandwich because, well, chocolate.

Then I made a full on Taco Bar with Taco Ticklers. There are a few taco recipes in the book but I started with the Hot Chocolate Lentil and Grilled Asparagus Tacos because, well, chocolate! My taco ticklers for this recipe are corn tortillas for the base, roasted asparagus for the focal point, shredded lettuce for crunch, Wicked Healthy Cheese Sauce from the Sauces and Basics section for creaminess, limes for the acid kick and green onions for garnish. But those chocolate lentils? Wicked!

If I ever find Lions’ Mane mushrooms I will be making the Street Tacos and if I ever find Lobster mushrooms I will be making the New England Lobster Roll because two boys from Massachusetts must know the best recipe for that classic.

Moving on to the “Bowls” section, the soups sound amazing but I’ll have to wait til the fall because it finally got warm here and I am done with soup. In the meantime, I will dream about the Lobster Mushroom Chowder and the Roasted Cauliflower Fagioli.

The next section is called “Straight-Up Vegetables” and it is exactly what you would think it is – a vegetable forward bunch of creative recipes including Cauliflower Ribs, Smoky Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower Head, and a Kale and Avocado Salad with Wild Rice, Grapes and Toasted Seeds that I plan to make with my first batch of homegrown kale.

I made the Sweet Potato Gratin with Crispy Onions and Rosemary but with Russets because that’s what I had on hand. Outstanding, especially with a big pile of sauerkraut! The secret is the Wicked Healthy Cheese Sauce. The “cheese” sauce is another one I make from every cookbook but this one is different and I LOVE IT! You might have to get the book just for this recipe.

Then there is the “Comfort Food” chapter which has lots of pasta recipes including homemade pasta dough, raviolis, and of course Mac & Cheese which is made with the Wicked Healthy Cheese Sauce. So far, I made a big bowl of Spaghetti and Nana’s Red Sauce because to me, there is nothing more comforting. The recipe says put the cooked sauce through a food mill, my all time favorite kitchen appliance ever, which elevates this classic even higher.

The closing chapters focus on drinks and dessert. Nature’s Candy is all desserts and Wicked Healthy Juices and Cocktails includes cocktails by a third Sarno brother. Who knew there was a third creative mind in this family??

Overall, this is an inspiring book. I started with the basics and listed all of the recipes I want to make asap. But, as my skills get challenged in the kitchen, I plan to step up to some of the more wicked recipes like the ones that call for Sriracha and other spicy stuff. Follow me on Instagram to see how I progress down the Wicked Healthy path and if you get the book, let me know!


The technique of pan-searing while basting with butter creates a rich, golden crust on mushrooms. It works great on crosscut slices of king oyster mushrooms, which have thick, firm stems and relatively small caps. It’s even better when you simmer king oyster “scallops” with sea vegetables and miso in a dashi-style broth to amp up their savory umami taste before pan-searing. With a creamy puree of Corona beans and some shaved asparagus, the seared scallops make a sexy plated appetizer. Make the Corona butter a few days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. —Chad

Course Appetizer



  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 thin slices fresh ginger (no need to peel)
  • 6 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 (6-inch) pieces kombu
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 6 king oyster mushrooms


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons plant-based butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced extra-fine


  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound
  • 2 teaspoons best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced wicked thin on a mandoline
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Corona Bean Butter


  • 1 pound dried Corona beans
  • About 8 cups Vegetable Stock (page 284) or store-bought low sodium
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped coarse
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dried red chiles, such as cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. For the king oyster scallops: To make a broth, combine the water, tamari, ginger, halved garlic, kombu, and miso in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then simmer gently for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Taste the broth. It should have a slightly salty, slightly savory flavor. If it tastes under-seasoned, add a bit more miso.

  2. Meanwhile, remove the mushroom stems from the caps. You’ll be using only the stems, so keep the caps for another use (see Pro Tips for ideas). Slice the stems crosswise into coins about 1 inch thick. The shapes will resemble scallops. You should get 3 or 4 scallops from each stem.

  3. Drop the scallops into the broth and simmer very gently until they absorb the flavors, 15 to 20 minutes. Use immediately or chill in the fridge in the braising liquid for up to 1 day.

  4. FOR THE TAMARI BUTTER: Stir together the butter, tamari, and minced garlic in a small bowl.

  5. TO SEAR THE SCALLOPS: Score the poached mushrooms with a few crosshatch cuts on each side. Heat a large heavy sauté pan (such as cast iron) over medium-high heat. Turn on a fan or open a window because pan-searing the scallops will produce some smoke. When the pan is hot, add the 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, tilting the pan to coat it evenly. Carefully place the scallops in the hot pan— tongs are helpful here. Let cook undisturbed until the scallops are nicely seared on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Add dollops of the tamari butter around the pan, and tilt the pan to help it seep underneath the scallops. When it does, flip the scallops and sear the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. While searing, spoon the melted butter over the tops of the scallops. (Spooning helps to brown the scallops and keep the butter from burning on the hot pan.) Flip one or two scallops over to make sure you have a nice golden-brown sear on each side. When both sides are golden brown, remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

  6. FOR THE ASPARAGUS GARNISH: Using a vegetable peeler, shave each spear of asparagus along its length. Remove all of the green peel from each spear. These are the shavings you will use. Refrigerate the remaining inner white part of the asparagus for another use (see Pro Tips).

  7. Right before serving, bring a pot of water to a boil and set up a bowl of ice water. Drop the shaved asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds, then transfer to the ice water to halt the cooking process.

  8. Gently toss the shaved asparagus with the olive oil, yuzu juice, and shallots. Season lightly with salt and pepper and taste, adding more seasoning if you think it needs it.

  9. Grab 6 small plates and swoosh a big spoonful of Corona butter on each plate.

  10. Place 3 or 4 scallops on the Corona butter and garnish with a small handful of shaved asparagus.

  11. FOR THE CORONA BUTTER: Soak the beans overnight in water to cover.

  12. Drain the beans and place in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers, cover, and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Test by pressing one bean on a cutting board: It should crush easily but not be mushy. (While the beans are cooking, check the liquid level now and then; you may need to add a bit more stock or water to keep the beans covered during the entire cooking time.)

  13. Serve hot with some of the cooking liquid.

  14. FOR THE CORONA BEAN BUTTER: After cooking the beans, remove the rosemary, bay leaves, and chiles. Transfer half of the beans and their liquid to a bowl or stand blender, add 1/3 cup olive oil, and blend until very smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for a few days, then spread anywhere just like butter. Makes about 2 cups.

  15. PRO TIPS: Slice the leftover mushroom caps and use in a stir-fry or soup, or chop them to add to the mushroom filling in Porcini Ravioli (page 211). You could also add them to Mushroom Stock (page 284).

  16. If the mushroom stems are different diameters, you can use a small ring mold or cookie cutter to cut them uniform (if you’re fussing for a special occasion). To use the leftover broth, strain out the solids and use the broth to cook noodles.

  17. You can pan-fry the leftover asparagus for a veg bowl. Or add it to a stir-fry. Or do what we did for the green sauce dollops in the photo: Blanch the leftovers and a few asparagus spears in boiling water for 30 seconds, shock in ice water, then puree with a little olive oil and salt. That gives you a simple asparagus puree to decorate the plate here and there.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from the book THE WICKED HEALTHY COOKBOOK by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Copyright © 2018 by Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved. Photo by Eva Kosmas Flores.

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