Vegan Express Paperback – Feb 12 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Atlas (Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons) defies the stereotype of convenience vegan food as being heavy on rubbery, unappetizing substitutes for normal ingredients. Though many of the dishes require only around half an hour to make, they skew more toward fresh vegetables and herbs rather than to faux meat. Spicy, flavorful recipes such as Curried Chickpeas with Chutney Bulgur and Salsa Orzo and Black Bean Salad send a clear message that one can cook vegan meals that satisfy even nonvegans. Atlas does use the basic protein alternatives (seitan, tofu and tempeh) as well as vegan cheeses and creamers at times, but these are incorporated so skillfully that people who usually turn up their noses at them will have no grounds to object. The book has strong international flair, with tofu replacing eggs in a Middleeastern Shakshouka and standing in for paneer in the Indian Tofu Aloo Gobi, as well as traditional meatless favorites like Pasta Puttanesca and Pad Thai. A few snacks and desserts are included, but most of the recipes are for dishes that, with a simple side, comprise a meal, facilitating speed, and Atlas sprinkles helpful tips on menu planning and variations throughout. The lack of photos to emphasize the food's appetizing potential is disappointing, but vegan, vegetarian and health-conscious omnivores just might be convinced after trying it out. (Feb.)
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“Think cooking vegan takes too much time? Then get in the vegan fast-lane with Nava Atlas! With Vegan Express, you can deliver delicious, healthy vegan meals to your table in a flash. Nava's culinary wisdom shines through in these creative, wholesome vegan recipes that are short on time, but big on flavor! Before ordering yet another veggie pizza, pick up Vegan Express instead... your taste buds will thank you!”
—Dreena Burton, best-selling author of Vive Le Vegan!, The Everyday Vegan and Eat, Drink and Be Vegan
“Vegan Express is the perfect answer to great food preparation. It’s the only cookbook you need in your kitchen.”
—Howard Lyman, author of Mad Cowboy and president of Voice for a Viable Future
“Vegan Express is the perfect match for today’s busy health-conscious cooks.”
—Robin Robertson, author of Quick-Fix Vegetarian and Vegan Planet
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
1. It has a light, airy layout that's fresh and appealing and filled with Nava's delightful illustrations.
2. The 160 delicious recipes take less than 45 minutes (and often less than 30) to prepare.
3. Each recipe has a nutritional analysis.
4. There's a pantry supply list tailored to the recipes in the book.
5. Menu suggestions accompany most recipes.
6. Most ingredients are available at your local supermarket.
7. Each page sparkles with Nava's wit and wisdom. I enjoyed reading about how her family, led by her 10-year-old son, became vegan.
Some of my favorite recipes are Pink Bean, Quinoa, and Spinach Soup; Seitan and Polenta Skillet with Fresh Greens; Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Butter Sauce; and Our Favorite Chocolate Cake. The cashew butter sauce, in particular, has become a staple in my kitchen.
Probably what I like best about this book is that it is busy-person tested. Nava wrote it while raising a family and working on her graduate thesis, a sure sign that these recipes fit right into a hectic lifestyle.
For busy vegan families, "Vegan Express" can't be beat. The recipes really are quick, delicious, and healthy. My family really loves soup so we started with the Nearly Instant Corn Soup made with coconut milk and curry paste. It was impressive enough to serve company while being ridiculously easy to make. Nava listed the White Bean and Escarole Soup as one of her personal favorites so I had to give it a try. She was right - it was yummy, even with kale substituted for the escarole.
Not in the mood for a hot soup, the book offers a large selection of salads - both as main dishes and sides. We really liked the Thai Tossed Salad coated in Coconut-Peanut Sauce and the refreshing Cauliflower and Carrot Salad. I'm looking forward to trying the Warm Potato and Black Bean Salad with Red Peppers and Artichokes as well as the Creole Coleslaw.
There are plenty of hassle-free entrées to choose from. I have my eye on the Paris-inspired Seitan and Mushrooms in Paprika Cream and the Tortilla Casserole topped with homemade vegan sour cream. Pasta dishes include Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Olives and we just loved the Creamy Pasta with Asparagus and Peas (an excellent dish for spring!) Kid-friendly meals include five kinds of pizza and three versions of the Big Quesadilla. Each entrée includes suggestions for side dishes and serving ideas.
We love beans of all kinds so we really enjoyed the section: Glorious Grains and Bountiful Beans. The Lentils with Greens and Sun-Dried Tomatoes were wonderful and we also enjoyed the Paella Vegetariana. There is also a variety of tasty dressings and sauces. The Pineapple Salsa was especially good.
Since no one is ever too busy for dessert, the book also includes sweets. My nine-year-old daughter made the Dense and Fruity Banana Bread which she proudly packed in her and her sister's lunch boxes (until my husband found it and finished it off!) Next on her list to bake are the Walnut-Cinnamon Crumble Coffee Cake and Chocolatey Banana Pizza.
"Vegan Express" is a necessity for busy parents. It's so nice to come home after a busy day and be able to put together a tasty, healthy meal that looks like I spent hours in the kitchen. And it's nice to have a cookbook that's simple enough for my daughter (a beginning cook) or my husband (a non-cook) to use. I highly recommend this cookbook.
Review by Cathe Olson as seen on [...] .
Here's why Vegan Express is the best cookbook we own, and why I would give the author, Nava Atlas, a hug if I ever met her:
1) Time: These recipes are fast. Most take 20-30 minutes, including prep time, and there are some in each chapter that take (no joke) only 10 minutes. We are always amazed at how quickly these recipes come together. Although we have an extensive collection of vegan cookbooks, I can say with certainty that Vegan Express is the best for busy people and families. Nava knows what she's doing here: she has two teenage boys herself, so prepare yourself for some seriously fast, seriously good food.
2) Balanced Meals: Besides being über-quick, what we love most about this cookbook is that many of its recipes are one-dish meals, meaning they incorporate a grain, protein, and lots of veggies in a single dish. Sometimes all you need to do in addition to the recipe is cook a pot of rice (but I would still consider that a one-dish meal because rice is easy and can cook while you do other stuff). The benefits of this approach are twofold: First, it's a huge time saver because you don't have to plan/prepare any side dishes; and second, you get a balanced meal without even having to think about it. However, for those who like to plan side dishes, there are some recommendations at the end of each recipe. What's more, Vegan Express is a fantastic resource for incorporating more greens into your diet -- the recipes frequently call for spinach, chard, kale, escarole, etc.
3) Taste: Delicious, robust flavors keep us coming back to this cookbook time and again. There are just two recipes that we honestly do not like, and we've made about 85% of the recipes in this book. All the others we've tried have been fantastic and merit repeat performances.
4) Variety: I'm almost embarrassed to divulge this, but we've been using this cookbook almost exclusively for the past 8 months and have not grown tired of it. Nava pulls from a variety of ethnic cuisines -- Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, even American "soul food" -- and sometimes blends them to create excellent fusion cuisine.
5) Accessibility: Very easy to follow. The cookbook is divided into basic chapters: soups, grains & noodles, protein trio (tofu, tempeh, seitan), pizzas/wraps, and desserts. Each recipe gets its own page, which I find more easily navigable than, say, Veganomicon. One thing I really like about Vegan Express is how clearly the the ingredients are delineated along the side of the page, separate from the directions; there's no nonsense to sort through to find the actual recipe (ahem, Vegan Soul Kitchen). Also listed are basic nutrition facts.
6) Ingredients: Easy to find at a standard grocery. On average, there are 5-10 ingredients per recipe. The most unusual ingredients called for are saffron, shiitake mushrooms, and Hoisin sauce. There are no bizarro ingredients, like liquid smoke, in this cookbook.
Vegan Express is the best cookbook we own, and I can't recommend it enough. If you're in the market for a whole foods-based, QUICK vegan cookbook, you should buy Vegan Express right now. You will not regret it!
** Update, Feb. 5, 2010: We are still using Vegan Express as our main cookbook and continue to make 2-3 recipes from it every week. We even brought it along on two extended family vacations this past year so that we could cook fast, healthy dinners. I seriously do not know how we lived without it!
From the review:
"Vegan Express provides an antidote for the kitchen weary by proving the truism untrue after all: turns out you can prepare fresh, healthy, vegetable-rich dishes in less time than it takes to watch the evening newscast! Every recipe in the book, from appetizer to dessert, takes between 30 and 45 minutes from assembling the ingredients to digging your fork into that first steaming mouthful (and many take even less time)." (To read the full review, see [..]).
The recipes are very clear, easy to follow, and, most importantly, work. They are also flexible enough to allow the cook some leeway in customizing the flavors as desired. In recipes where I preferred more spice (we are spice hounds in our house), I simply increased the amounts in the original. In others, I liked the results just as they were.
I absolutely loved the Very Green Veggie Pesto Pizza, the Nearly Instant Thai Corn Coconut Soup, the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake, and the Butterscotch Mousse Pie.
I'd highly recommend this book to anyone looking for foolproof, easy, varied recipes that are kid and adult friendly--and take almost no time at all.