The PPK cookbook challenge is using Vegan Diner over this week and next. I do not own Vegan Diner! Funds are a little tight (and I’m too lazy for the library right now), so I was going to rely only on internet resourced recipes. There aren’t a lot. And most of them aren’t savory. Since I’m using these challenges to power my dinner and lunch menus, that isn’t really helpful. I may make biscuits and gravy next week, but I have really been craving some vegetables. This past week, asparagus finally came into season and was on sale for $1.79/lb. Hooray! Asparagus is really only good when it’s in season (which is short) and it’s kind of ridiculously expensive when it’s not anyway, so I only get to eat it for a couple weeks a year. Therefore! I decided to give myself an asparagus challenge and only cook meals that included this delightful veggie. I am always drooling over asparagus recipes in, like, October, so I decided to dig up some of those and give them a go. Except for my first one, I cheated and made the Jerk Asparagus from Appetite for Reduction, which I’ve made before and knew I liked and also I really wanted to have the Mango BBQ Beans, which I also love, and go well together. I didn’t take a photo, because I’ve taken one before. You can read about it if you click through the linky dink there. But then I got with the program and made a couple of new recipes. Thusly:
A cookbook that I have really neglected since buying it last year is The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. I remember a recipe in The 30 Minute Vegan (the original) for an asparagus purée that was surprisingly tasty, so when I stumbled across this recipe for Lemon Tempeh (except I used tofu because the store was out of tempeh) with Creamy Asparagus Sauce, I jumped right on board. Since it’s in the Italy section, I wasn’t surprised to see basil and lemon as some of the key flavor elements. And I love those things, so all the better.
Because I used tofu instead of tempeh, it took a little longer. I pressed the ‘fu and let it marinate for about 40 minutes (piercing the cutlets with a fork a few times since the marinade wasn’t that deep). Then I doubled the cooking time, flipping it halfway. Gosh this was good. The tofu is perfectly savory, and the asparagus sauce it bright and Spring-y and altogether nommable.
The recipe notes suggested I serve it with Orzo with Roasted Zucchini, and I heartily agree. There are still the same elements of basil and lemon, so they pair nicely, but it wasn’t too one-note, like I was worried about. The addition of shiitake mushrooms gave it a lovely earthiness and the zucchini was crisp and fresh. I used whole wheat orzo, because…it’s better. Altogether a raging success!
Leeks, asparagus, and coconut milk. You cannot lose. I made this Leek and Asparagus curry from another underused cookbook of mine, Local Bounty. I don’t know why I don’t use this one more often. It’s all about eating produce that is in season, which is why I knew it would have some bangin’ asparagus recipes (I believe there are 4 in the Spring section!). The recipes tend to be really simple and basic, in order to let the produce shine. I can get behind that. I really liked that this curry wasn’t all just like, ‘Curry Powder’, because ever since I learned a little bit more about cooking authentic curries, curry powder seems like such a cop-out and doesn’t taste like the real thing at all. You gotta have the individual spices! Anyway, that being said, this curry was incredibly mild, and I added more of the individual spices called for. I also added 15 oz of coconut milk instead of 6, because I like a saucy curry. The leeks and asparagus work really well together, and the chickpeas soak up all that delicious flavor.
Served over brown rice with a drizzle of Sriracha, it was a big hit. My cousin is staying with me and she had some of the leftovers, and she really enjoyed it as well. And she’s Scottish, so she knows her way around a curry or two.
So, after a week of asparagus pee (fun fact: everyone produces the chemical that makes you have stinky asparagus pee, but only 22% of people can actually smell it, and it’s genetic! Weird!), asparagus went back up to $3.99/lb and my rendezvous with it ended. This week I’ve been testing recipes for a class I’m teaching on Saturday about how to cook beans, so that’s what you’ll get to see next week! With recipes. Yeah. I’m making up my own recipes. Because I can do that sometimes. You know, there is a reason this blog is called Awesome. Vegan. Rad.