The moment I laid eyes on The Conscious Cook, I was stunned. The design and layout is impeccable. Not only is this vegan book gorgeous, but it is packed full of information. Not only geared towards vegans, but to meat-eaters as well, Tal Ronnen dedicated the whole intro to the book to busting vegan myths, detailing the ins and out of vegan protein, and welcoming meat-eaters to the foreign vegan land. You may remember Ronnen from Oprah’s 21-Day Vegan Challenge, among other things!
Throughout the book, Ronnen describes his favorite foods, such as his favorite pickled items and favorite greens. These are spaced throughout the book and add a nice personal touch, while delivering a lot of helpful information.
Ronnen has also included recipes, stories, and interviews with his friends and fellow chefs in each chapter. Personally, I love this idea! The guest chefs add an extra level of freshness and excitement to the book.
After my first scan of the book, I chose two recipes to try out today, Split Pea Soup and Whole Grain Penne with San Marzano Tomatoes. The recipes are set up nicely and easy to follow. Neither of these recipes including hard to find ingredients, which I also like.
As for the taste, I loved the pasta, but I wasn’t wild about the soup. It’s not that the soup was bad, it just wasn’t the split pea soup that I know and love. The rosemary and paprika that the recipe called for just aren’t my cup of tea. This pasta dish is packed with flavor and nutrition! It was very easy, and incredibly custimizable. I did not have olives or chard on hand, so I subbed in capers and kale without any trouble.
There are a few recipes in the book that rely on one meat substitute in particular, Gardein. I don’t have a problem with Gardein, I’ve tried a product from them and it was fine, I just find that some of these meat subsitutes are expensive and unnessecary for me. When a cookbook calls for a specific brand, it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t keep these products on hand, so in these recipes I’d more than likely just substitute in tofu or tempeh. With that said, I think that someone who is new to the vegan lifestyle would probably be more comfortable working with a product like Gardein, which is more like chicken than tofu or tempeh, so I suppose I can understand why Ronnen included it.
Overall, this cookbook is great. It really, really impressed me. It’s incredibly beautiful and I am in awe of the photos with each turn of the page. Tal Ronnen is obviously one creative and talented chef! I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes, the Old Bay Tofu Cakes and Oven Roasted Banana Rum Cheesecake! I’ve actually got the cheesecake in the oven and it smells so delicious! I can’t wait to dig into that..
This is a third party review by the talented vegan blogger, Nicole of Another One Bites the Crust.