Think back a decade to what you might find if you were eating vegan...not much, right? Today there are vegan bakeries and loads of resources for ingredients and recipes but when Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero wrote Veganomicon they were early pioneers of vegan cooking. Ten years after writing their seminal cookbook, the two have gone back and updated it with new dishes, color photos, and revisions throughout.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Veganomicon, Moskowitz and Romero answered a few questions about vegan cuisine and their cookbook, and also share one of Romero's favorite recipes from the book:
How has vegan cuisine changed in the ten years since Veganomicon was originally published?
Isa: It's everywhere now. Most people know what quinoa and seitan are, and they even pronounce them correctly. Kale has gone from a garnish at the bottom of a catering tray to the trendiest vegetable in town and come full circle where now it's even passé! There's more availability in supermarkets and restaurants; there are about 87,436 vegan blogs (at last count) and even more Instagram accounts. But we still have a long ways to go. Vegan cuisine is still a niche and not taken totally seriously in the food community, and we are still working hard to change that.
Terry: It’s unreal and completely exciting the reach vegan food has now! It’s not exactly mainstream, but seeing that little “v” next to items on non-vegan restaurants or finding vegan food in big grocery stores is easier than ever. Nearly every food magazine encourages eaters to flirt with making something vegan for dinner. Vegan cheese is no longer a sad factory slab but a whole world of beautiful, artisan-made treasures. And vegan desserts are as common as cupcakes or coconut milk ice cream. It's a great time to discover vegan food.
How long have you known each other and what was the first recipe you created together?
Isa: We've known each other for a little over 20 years. Hmm. We don't really create recipes together per se, we more discuss each other's ideas. The first thing we cooked together was sushi on the first episode of the PPK!
Terry: As Isa mentioned, we usually develop recipes in our own kitchens, but eerily sync together because we are also psychically linked via vegan cooking.
What is your favorite new recipe from the book?
Isa: I love the Grilled Ranch Salad. Charred lettuce has become a favorite of mine over the past decade. Pair that with fresh ingredients, plus smoky crunchy bacon and cool dressing, and you can do anything.
Terry: I find myself making variations of the Stir-fried Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry on a weeknight all the time: it has the speed of a stir fry with the satisfying comfort of a well-balanced curry loaded with hearty veggies.
What do you tell people when they say that cooking vegan is hard?
Isa: I think people think cooking is hard in general; I've never had someone say specifically that vegan cooking is hard (believe it or not.) But it's just a matter of, first of all, wanting to cook, and then learning the basics. Start with a one-pot soup and see how satisfying it is! Once you get into the groove and get some practice, dive into a bigger project like lasagna.
Terry: Vegan cooking is still just cooking, minus the animal products. The great thing about vegan cooking now is that armies of vegan chefs and bloggers and foodies have explored countless ways to make all the food you love at home, now vegan. If there's something you love to make, somebody has a vegan version of it for you to try. Go forth and cook like a vegan, with confidence!
“You’re at a dinner party with Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri, and BBQ master, Steve Raichlen, what one recipe from the book would you make for them?”
Isa: Probably everybody's favorite, Chickpea Cutlets!
Terry: Agreed on the chickpea cutlets too! And do dress them up with the Mustard Sauce or the Red Wine Sauce!
A chunky, spicy stir-fried curry that’s fast enough for weeknights and has big fresh flavors that no takeout can come close to. This recipe is inspired by the Indian-British jalfrezi curries, using typically Indian seasonings and ingredients with Chinese cooking techniques: what we really have here is a great way to use your favorite vegetables, beans, even tofu in a fast-cooking stir-fry loaded with bold Indian flavors. As this is a “dry” curry, moist but not too soupy, it’s ideal for scooping up with Yogurt Naan Bread (page 338) or basmati rice that’s cool enough to handle.
Make this curry twice, and you’ll be ready to experiment by preparing the following batches with different proteins and vegetables in place of the chickpeas and cauliflower. Seared extra firm tofu in place of chickpeas or eggplant in place of cauliflower will make this feel a little more Chinese, but you can sway it toward a more Indian feel by using pumpkin or okra.
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, softened
- 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (optional but awesome)
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 to 2 fresh red chiles, minced
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh turmeric, or 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup diced yellow onion (1-inch chunks)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (preferable fire-roasted)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Heat about 2 teaspoons of the coconut oil in a wok or large deep skillet over medium-high heat, add the chickpeas, and fry for 3 minutes, or until golden. Add the cauliflower and fry for another 5 minutes, or until it browns a little on the outside. Transfer the chickpea mixture to a bowl and place the remaining 4 teaspoons of coconut oil in the wok.
Heat the wok over high heat and stir in the star anise, cumin seeds, nigella seeds (if you have them), garam masala, minced chile, ginger, turmeric, and garlic and fry for less than a minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Stir in the onion immediately (this will cool down the pan to prevent burning), add the bell pepper, and fry for 2 minutes to soften up the veggies. Stir in the chickpea mixture, add the tomatoes and salt, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes: the cauliflower will release moisture and the vegetables will simmer. The curry is done when the cauliflower is tender but still firm and the curry has thickened; the curry should be a little saucy but not overly soupy like stew.
Turn off the heat, sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro, and serve hot with naan bread!
REPLACE THE CHICKPEAS with extra-firm tofu sliced into 1/2-inch cubes; make sure
to brown them well before adding vegetables.
REPLACE THE CAULIFLOWER with peeled, seeded, and diced winter squash (butternut,
acorn, Hubbard, etc.); okra, sliced into 1-inch pieces; or Chinese
eggplant, diced into 1-inch cubes.
IF USING WINTER SQUASH, the cooking process may take a little longer and require
a few additional tablespoons of water to help soften up the squash. Just
allow it to simmer to reduce the total liquid volume for a nice thick curry!