Occasionally I get stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking. I guess this happens to everyone. You just start using the same ingredients and same spices all too often and pretty soon, dinner time starts to get a little boring.
Luckily, when I fell into this rut recently, the universe gave me a kick in the culinary pants in the form of this new and super inspiring cookbook, The Lotus and the Artichoke.
For the past few months, I have been following the posts on Facebook of Lotus and the Artichoke writer Justin Moore. I routinely drooled over the pictures of colorful vegan creations he posted, telling myself, “I should really try to make that.” So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when he sent me a copy of his brand-new cookbook! Awesomeness.
Let me confess something right off the bat – I am not normally keen on following recipes. I have a few fancy vegan cookbooks on my shelf that I rarely crack open simply because the recipes are too elaborate, require too many unusual and hard-to-find ingredients or high-end complicated cooking tools that most people don’t have in their kitchens.
Justin’s book is not this way. His recipes are shared in the the way I want to cook. They are creative, healthy, spiced with pizzaz and packed with variety. They call for lots of different types of vegetables and protein sources, which is great if you’ve been relying too heavily on one thing or another in your cooking routine. He also includes good substitution options for various ingredients as well. Thaddeus (who is not much of a cook) has prepared a number of these recipes recently and he has been able to follow them very easily and create the most scrumdidlyumptious dinners for me. I consider that a huge testament to the quality of a recipe.
The coolest thing about this cookbook is the breadth and scope of flavors and dishes. Justin is a world adventurer. He explores the world with an eye for photography and a palette for exotic cuisine. American by birth, but currently living in Berlin, Justin has traveled in nearly 40 countries. The Lotus and the Artichoke was born from his passions for travel, food and exploration.
Part of the exploration factor in play here is that many of the traditional dishes described in his book are NOT originally vegan, but through creative experimenting, he has perfect plant-based renditions of all these unique preparations. For example, vegan gulab jamun (you know those tasty donut-tasting balls in syrup you get at Indian restuarants?) – who knew those could be made without dairy products! Not I! Justin even has a tofu panneer recipe that simulates the yummy texture and taste of Indian cheese. A-mazing.
The Lotus and the Artichoke is presented not by categories of food but by continents. Before each continent, Justin shares photos and stories from his travels throughout various countries there. Looking at this cookbook gives me both serious munchies and wanderlust!
Food is such a universal connector. Sharing a meal with someone, even if you can’t speak their language, can be a really bonding and beautiful experience. You can tell from reading Justin’s book, that he’s had some unforgettably special moments with people over meals in all corners of this big world.
I’m a big fan of The Lotus and the Artichoke and I bet you will be too.
Try this creamy and delicious soup recipe yourself!
Thad made this for me the other night and I seriously could not get enough of it! Yum.
Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup
serves 4 / time 30 min
3 medium / 3 cups carrots peeled, chopped
3 medium / 3 cups potatoes peeled, chopped
1 medium / 2 cups zucchini chopped
1 small red onion or 1 shallot chopped
1 inch / 2 cm fresh ginger finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin – ground
1 tspn coriander – ground
1/2 tspn turmeric – ground
1/8 tspn nutmeg
1 Tbs vegetable broth powder
1 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes OPTIONAL
1/2 tspn black pepper ground
1/2 tspn red paprika ground
1/2 tspn salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine (or water)
1 cup soy/nut milk
3 cups water
Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add garlic, onion, ginger, pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, nutmeg. Mix, fry until garlic and onions are slightly browned, about 3 min.
Add carrots, potatoes, zucchini. Mix well with spices, cook 5 min.
Add lemon juice, wine. Stir regularly, cook partially covered, until veg is soft and cooked, 5-7 min.
Turn off / remove from heat. Purée veg to creamy pulp with immersion blender.
Return to medium heat. Add soy milk, broth powder, nutritional yeast, salt. Stir well, simmer 2-3 min.
Add water gradually, stirring regular, maintain low boil, cook for 5 min.
Continue to cook on medium low, reduce to desired consistency.
Garnish with fresh parsley, crumbled nuts, sprinkled paprika, ground pepper. Serve with bread or crackers.
Vedic style / No garlic and onions: replace with pinch asafoetida (hing), 1/2 tspn brown mustard seeds. Nutty taste: add 1/4 cup lightly toasted ground sunflower seeds with nutritional yeast and broth powder. Straight-up Carrot-Ginger: Use 2 or 3 more carrots, omit zucchini. Alternately, replace zucchini with 1 or 2 cups chopped pumpkin. Potatoes can also be replaced with sweet potato or more carrots. Euro-herbs: use fresh basil, thyme, rosemary instead of cumin and coriander. Add 1 Tbs tomato paste and/or 1 chopped tomato for a slightly richer, fruitier flavor, too.