Laura B. Russell takes the path less traveled when it comes to special diet cookbooks. Rather than a broad collection, she focuses on a niche and runs with it. Her approach was wildly successful with The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen (homemade gluten-free dumplings – seriously!?), and I think she may have another gem with Brassicas.
As a lover of all things cruciferous, I was excited to see an entire treasure trove of recipes dedicated to broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, and the rest of their hearty clan. I was even surprised to learn that turnips, horseradish, and several leafy greens (like the Watercress in these spicy soba noodles) are members of the brassica family.
Brassicas isn’t a completely dairy-free cookbook, but I would guestimate that about 80% of the recipes are either dairy-free or have a dairy-free option. All of the Brassicas recipes were tested gluten-free (note that these spicy soba noodles were created with 100% buckwheat noodles, but other soba noodles can be used if gluten-free is not required) and there is a food allergy index in the back (much like the one in Go Dairy Free) that shows you at a glance which recipes are vegan, vegetarian, or contain any of the top allergens.
Some of the dairy-free recipes that I’ve ear-marked to trial include: Broccoli Rabe with Romesco Sauce, Chinese Broccoli with Ginger and Oyser Sauce, Kale and Sweet Potato Saute, Moroccan Turnip and Chickpea Braise, Spicy Kale with Fried Rice, and Spicy Soba Noodles with Wilted Watercress (recipe and image below).
Brassicas is hardback and gorgeous (beautiful photography for about one-third of the recipes). But since I haven’t had the opportunity to trial the cuisine, Laura invited me to share the sample recipe below for spicy soba noodles. She had the following to say about this wonderfully flavorful dish:
Soba noodles, hearty and flavorful Japanese noodles made from either buckwheat only or buckwheat and wheat flour, pair perfectly with peppery watercress and a spicy dressing. This hassle-free side dish could not be easier, requiring no cutting at all. The watercress does not need cooking; it just needs a quick wilt, so tossing it in the hot pan with the freshly cooked noodles and sauce will do the trick. Look for the soba noodles, chile-garlic sauce (a mixture of chile, garlic, and vinegar), and toasted sesame oil in the Asian foods section of your grocery store. If you find watercress, a large bunch should be enough. If only upland cress is available, grab a couple small bunches.
Special Diet Notes: Spicy Soba Noodles
By ingredients, this spicy soba noodles recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free (see options in the recipe), nut-free, peanut-free, vegan and vegetarian.
- 8 ounces dried soba noodles (use 100% buckwheat soba for gluten-free)
- 21⁄2 tablespoons soy sauce or wheat-free tamari (for gluten-free)
- 1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 6 cups stemmed watercress or upland cress
- 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook for about 8 minutes, or according to package directions, until done.
- Meanwhile, to make the sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, chile-garlic sauce, and sesame oil.
- Drain the noodles in a colander set in the sink. (If you are using 100 percent buckwheat soba, the noodles may be excessively starchy. Give them a quick rinse with hot tap water.)
- Put the watercress in the hot pan. Return the noodles to the pan along with the canola oil. Using tongs, toss to combine. The watercress should wilt from the residual heat of the pan and the noodles.
- Add the sauce and toss until well incorporated. Serve warm or at room temperature.