Friday, February 01, 2013

Book Review: 30-Minute Taste of Europe

A few weeks back, I received a copy of 30-Minute Vegan: Taste of Europe in the mail. It was a busy day when it arrived, so it took me a day or two to start flipping through it. But once I did, I was hooked! There are all sorts of tasty-looking recipes from different countries across Europe... many of which I've written down on my "try this recipe" list. So, for this review, I picked 2 recipes each from 3 different chapters. It was really fun to have "Greek night" and "German night," and so on. Here's what I made:

Greece: Lima Bean and Beet Salad
We started off with Greek night. This was a super delicious little salad! I used just a little bit of the optional vegan mayo, which gave it a touch of creaminess, and cut back the oil. But with the dill and the lemon and the earthy beets, it was a wonderfully balanced affair. We gobbled it up! Also, dicing and steaming the beets meant that it really did come together very quickly, so it was an easy weeknight addition.

Greece: Creamy Chickpea Soup
At first I was a little concerned about this soup... but I needn't have worried. At the very end of the recipe you add in a major punch of flavor: tamari, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, herbs & spices, and by the time it was ready to serve, it was really fantastic! The soup is creamy, but also has some whole chickpeas and chopped up fresh tomatoes in there for some texture and bite. I really like that, since I'm not much of a fan of 100% creamy soups. Also, I was surprised at what a contribution the suggested fresh parsley and sesame seed garnishes made to the over-all flavor ~ they weren't merely decorative. Using pre-cooked beans, this soup definitely came together quickly, and was very tasty and satisfying. It was a good combo with the beet salad too - something fresh and chunky with something warm and smooth.


Germany:
Brussels Sprouts & Red Cabbage ~ and ~ Tempeh Sauerbrauten
I had plans to be in Austria this month, but the yoga course I was supposed to take got cancelled. I was really disappointed, and all month I've been thinking about the fact that I'm missing out on fun time in Austria and Southern Germany. So, when I got to the German part of the book, every recipe was jumping out at me and it all looked like a good way to connect with my Bavarian dreams.

These recipes were both great, and they were a good pair together. Each was quick (as promised) and easy to prepare. We loved these Brussels Sprouts!! They had quite a little heat punch from the red pepper flakes, and the overall flavors were rich and robust. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of mustard, so I used 1 teaspoon of my sweet German mustard, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon regular ol' yellow mustard. It was a good combo! Also, it called for 1 cup of beer, which was fun for me since I pretty much never drink or cook with beer. I'll definitely make this recipe again.

The Tempeh Sauerbrauten was quite yummy and filling. Honestly, I think I just liked the name, I wasn't sure what to expect. The tempeh slabs were marinated and baked while the sauce was prepared. The thick sauce is made up from root veggies like parsnips and celeriac and carrots, cooked with red wine and veggie broth and the end result is smooth, earthy, subtly sweet, and also rich. You can indeed taste the hint of the red wine in there.

 Spain and Portugal: Paprika Tofu
Hello yummy times! Next up, I chose two dishes from the Spain and Portugal chapter. This is a really great recipe. I loved the giant slabs of tofu, and the veggie topping was a huge hit. The tofus marinate and begin baking, while you prepare the veggies. Then the veggies go into the casserole dish with the tofus and the whole thing bakes some more. I picked the option to bake an extra 10 minutes, since I wasn't in a hurry. I reduced the oil a lot, and didn't miss it at all. I'll most definitely make this again. We both loved it.

 Spain & Portugal: Apple Hazelnut Salad with Shaved Fennel
This unexpected little dish was quite a surprise. I really liked it, though I'm not sure it was well paired with the richness of the Paprika Tofu. The salad has fennel, hazelnuts, apples and celery, and an interesting dressing of lime juice, lime zest, cinnamon, fresh mint, and other flavors. It was pleasantly sweet, and actually I think it would be a really cool brunch item.

I am really stoked on this book and eager to try tons more recipes from it. The recipes really do seem to come together pretty quickly, and they don't skimp on flavor. Some of the other recipes I have bookmarked to try include:
Finnish Aland Pancakes (next on my list!)
Cabbage Salad with Pink Pepper
Red Berry Pudding
Icelandic Red Cabbage
Creamy Parsnip and Sunchoke Soup
Chocolate Stuffed Figs
...and so many more!

This author has also written two other books : 30-Minute Vegan and 30-Minute Vegan: Taste of Asia. Now I'm curious about those titles too. Do you have any of these books? 

11 comments:

  1. quick vegan and tasty meals! i'm in!

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  2. The beets and beans are beautiful and sounds delicious. The recipes sound unique, and I like the fact they're quick to prepare. Thanks for the review :)

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  3. I don't have any of the 30 minute vegan books, but they always look great. I love the beet and lima dish at the top - I don't eat limas anywhere near enough!
    Chocolate stuffed figs also sounds pretty...pretty...pretty fantastic.

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    1. yes. those chocolate stuffed figs are making me swoon. Fig season just ended, so I have a long time to wait... but I will be ALL OVER that business as soon as I see a fresh fig at the market!

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  4. I love the 30 minute series! But I haven't had a chance to look through the Europe one yet. All these recipes look great, perhaps especially the giant slabs of tofu and the beet dish. I own the original 30 minute one and it's really excellent - nice and simple, definitely with a healthy bent.

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  5. I have this and still haven't cooked from it....I really need to get on it. Sorry about the yoga class!

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  6. I have the 30 Minute Vegan: Taste of Asia out from the library right now and it has so many amazing-sounding recipes I can't bring myself to return it. Looks like I'll have to buy it. Alas!

    The Europe version sounds wonderful too =)

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  7. Oooh it looks fabulous. As a Brit, I'm curious as to if there is a British section!? My Mum bought herself the 30minute Vegan (original one- I was so pleased as she's not even vegan! To be honest I probably cook from it more than her though. I do recommend it- there's a nice combination of simple and more creative recipes and a good raw selection too.

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    1. Yeah, there IS a British Section... with some fun looking recipes! How cool that your mom bought the 30 minute vegan. I think I'll probably end up getting both of his other books. Sometimes I am in the mood for big special projects, but it's great to have some reliable sources for weeknight dinners that don't take 4 hours. :)

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  8. I have this book on my shelf...time to open it up and start cooking!

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  9. I like this one best out of the 3, actually. I feel like I've got better recipes for the stuff from the first one elsewhere. But I like this one a lot so it was great to see what you made.

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