I dare you to open this cookbook from Seattle's Plum Bistro to any page and not think the recipe you find there is completely irresistible. Tiramisu pancakes? Check. Cauliflower bisque with fresh fennel? Yes, please. Black plum and ginger sorbet? Oh, you know it. Chef Makini Howell's recipes are vibrant, wholesome, and absolutely popping with all the fresh flavors of the season. ...Oh, and did I mention they're all vegan?
• Who wrote it: Makini Howell
• Who published it: Sasquatch Books
• Number of recipes: About 75
• Recipes for right now: Tiramisu Pancakes, Quinoa-Millet Cherry Salad, Blood Cauliflower Bisque with Fresh Fennel, Curried Red Yam Fries, Pesto Tofu with Smashed Purple Potatoes and Charred Asparagus, Raw "Lasagna" with Basil-Walnut Pesto, Plum's Smoky Mac, Strawberry Crepes with Custard Sauce
• Other highlights: This is definitely not your usual vegan cookbook. Oh, the fact that everything is vegan is definitely front and center — tofu and seitan are in full attendance, and Chef Howell spends a lot of time explaining unfamiliar vegan ingredients, talking about healthfulness of various dishes, and providing tips for easing into a vegan lifestyle. But this doesn't come across as soap-boxy or overly health-conscious.
In short, this cookbook feels welcoming. Very much so. The recipes are immediately appealing and approachable. There's a lot of chopping of vegetables and combining of ingredients that go into creating a good, flavorful vegan dish, but the recipes don't feel overly complicated. And although they are restaurant recipes, Chef Howell has done a stellar job of translating them for our home kitchens.
These vegan dishes also feel exceptionally rich and special. Bright pestos, creamy soy-based spreads, infused olive oils, and generous use of spices give these vegetable and grain dishes a lushness that can often seem missing from vegan cuisine. Of course, using fruits and vegetables picked at the peek of their season goes a long way toward ensuring a fully flavored dish, and this is a cooking habit Chef Howell definitely encourages.
As we speed along into summer and its promise of fresh produce, this is going to be a great cookbook to have on the shelf. Whether you're vegan or not, I guarantee there's a recipe or three in here that will tempt you into the kitchen.
• Who would enjoy this book? Vegans, people interested in trying a vegan diet, and folks who just want some new, healthy, and delicious recipes for their table.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro by Makini Howell
• Visit the author's website: Plum Bistro
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Emma Christensen)