Book Report: The Plant Kitchen: 100 Easy Recipes for Vegan Beginners + 2 Bonus Recipes!

I love a good cookbook. Over the last nine years, I have featured over 30 books on the blog and some others on my Instagram. New books are coming out all the time – including mine! – and if you click here to order it, it will be in your hot little hands on Feb 4th! Anyway, today I am talking about The Plant Kitchen: 100 Easy Recipes for Vegan Beginners, Ryland Peters & Small. It is a great new addition to my bookshelf and will be to yours, too. Read on for details and two bonus recipes!

When I get a new cookbook, I am always looking for inspiration – new flavors, new techniques, new spins on old dishes. This book is a definitely flavor inspirer. Even though ‘beginners’ is in the title, don’t let that fool you. This book is chock full of complex flavors and interesting dishes. Plus, this book is set up just the way I like it with chapters on breakfast, brunch, snacks, soups, mid-week suppers, dishes to feed a crowd, and sweet things – chapter titles I recognize!

The basic chapter includes recipes for milk, cheese, mayo and sauces. The breakfast chapter includes smoothies, pancakes, and everyone’s favorite, avocado toast. Light bites and snacks includes dips and crackers. Soups and sides include all kinds of soups and salads including my new favorite thing to eat – roasted vegetable salad with tapenade dressing (recipe included below!) Mid-week suppers and crowd pleasers include bowls full of goodness, lots of baked things, risotto, rice pilaf, and quite possibly the easiest curry I have ever made (that recipe is included below too!) Finally there are recipes for oat bars (yay!), fudge, cookies and brownies that are all easy and sound delicious!

As you know I don’t just write about a book, but I cook from it too. The two recipes that I am featuring here are definitely going into my regular weeknight rotation and for when I have company over because they can both be doubled or halved easily. Plus, I always have all of the ingredients on hand.

The first is a Chickpea and Pepper Curry Bake. The process is super easy – make the sauce in the food processor – and bake all in one dish. Easy and perfect for a weeknight. The second is a Roasted Vegetable Salad with Tapenade Dressing. It never occurred to me to make a vegan version of tapenade. This recipe is so simple and I am in love. (It calls for black olives, but I used green olives because I don’t like black olives. Same difference, right?) And are you a total fennel hater like me? Well, roasting it takes it to a whole new level and it is a great vehicle for the tapenade. The flavors together are kinda perfect!

I highly recommend checking out this book. There are plenty of recipes I can’t wait to make. If you get it, and make some, let me know your favorites!

Chickpea & Pepper Curry Bake

Chickpeas and (bell) peppers combine beautifully in this dish to bring sweetness, tanginess and yet the mellowness of a substantial vegan baked meal-in-one.

5 shallots, very finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2-cm/ ¾ in. piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
400-g/14-oz. can tomatoes
400-g/14-oz. can coconut milk
1/2 yellow (bell) pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 orange (bell) pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 x 400-g/14-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
freshly chopped coriander/cilantro, to serve

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas 7.

Mix the shallots, garlic, ginger, spices, tomatoes and coconut milk together in a bowl or food processor.

Put the sliced (bell) peppers on a sheet pan with sides. Pour over the coconut milk and spice mixture. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Add the chickpeas to the curry mix and stir. Bake for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the coriander/cilantro and serve with rice.

This is what it looked like when I made it!


Roasted Vegetable Salad with Tapenade Dressing

Vegetables take on a new dimension when roasted, becoming slightly sweet and smoky. The tapenade dressing adds to the Mediterranean feel of this salad, which can be served as a light meal or as an accompaniment to a larger dish.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 baby courgettes/zucchini, halved lengthways
2 onions, halved and each half cut into 3 wedges
1 large red (bell) pepper, halved, deseeded and cut into long wedges
1 large orange (bell) pepper, halved, deseeded and cut into long wedges
2 fennel bulbs, cut into wedges

Tapenade Dressing

60 g/21/2 oz. pitted black olives, drained
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and patted dry
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
large handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar together in a large, shallow dish. Add the prepared vegetables, turn to coat them in the marinade, then leave to marinate while the oven is heating.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.

Turn out the vegetables into 2 large roasting pans and spread out into an even layer. Roast for 20 minutes, remove the courgettes/zucchini if tender, then return the rest of the vegetables to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until tender and blackened in places.

Meanwhile, to make the tapenade dressing, put the olives in a food processor or blender with the capers, garlic, olive oil and parsley, then pulse briefly until finely chopped and season to taste. Alternatively, coarsely chop all the ingredients by hand.

Serve the roasted vegetables warm or at room temperature, with some of the tapenade spooned over the top. (Transfer any remaining dressing to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

This is what it looked like when I made it!


Recipes excerpted with permission from The Plant Kitchen: 100 Easy Recipes for Vegan Beginners, Ryland Peters & Small 2020. Photo credit for the recipe images: © Ryland Peters & Small 2020

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