Pros: Great collection of easy vegan recipes requiring no additional specialty ingredients.
Cons: Repetitive themes in many of the recipes.
Supermarket Vegan is a cookbook that shares satisfying, vegan recipes for everyday living. With little introduction, author Donna Klein dives right into the book with her complete meal recipes from appetizers through desserts. The recipes are geared towards those who want healthy meal options without the countless stops at specialty stores for unique ingredients. Instead, shoppers will be able make all their needed purchases from the local grocery store. Some of the recipes do lack pizzazz, but they are all quick, easy, and conform to the special requirements of a vegan diet. There are no illustrations of completed dishes in this book, but you should not have any trouble realizing whether you have executed the recipes properly or not. For home cooks wanting to prepare vegan meals that fit conveniently within their current schedule, Supermarket Vegan is a great book to consider.
Other than a very brief introduction and index, Supermarket Vegan is filled entirely with recipes. Starting with appetizers, the author then leads you through soup and salad courses, lunch items, dinner entrees, sides, and desserts. Every course has a decent selection of recipes to choose from without being overwhelming. More importantly, the selection of recipes allows you to plan and cook an entire vegan meal if needed.
The recipes are easy and straightforward. Without the need to separately prepare specialty ingredients, such as egg replacer product, recipes in Supermarket Vegan rarely extend beyond a half-page in length, and normally require 30 minutes or so to prepare. Further, the skills necessary to execute each dish are basic, requiring no advanced techniques. When combined with one-stop shopping, the recipes in Supermarket Vegan will not negatively impact your daily schedule anymore than preparing non-vegan meals.
While the book is indeed a great collection of vegan-friendly recipes, there are a few noticeable drawbacks. First and foremost, the recipes should have been more specific about the use of vegan-friendly ingredients when needed. For example, a recipe that calls for pasta, should really call for pasta that contains no egg products, added butter or the like. While committed vegans already know which pastas are acceptable to their diets, and many of them are, a well-intentioned family member or friend may assume that all pastas are the same. By specifically calling for the vegan-friendly version of a product, confusion over the interchangeability of an ingredient could be avoided.
Second, a number of dishes are merely variations of preceding recipes. For example, the Coconut-curried Portobello Mushrooms over Basmati Rice sounds very tasty. But this is then followed by a recipe for Chickpea and Zucchinis over Couscous, Wilted Spinach over Brown Rice, and the even less original Coconut-curried Lentils over Basmati Rice. True, these recipes are all vegan-friendly. Yet, the overuse of the veg-over-starch theme would eventually wear out the taste buds of even the heartiest vegans.
Third, because the book is geared for everyday meals, you would not want to rely on this book for your entire vegan planning. For instance, you will not find a useful selection of recipes meant to impress guests for a dinner party. If you are looking for cakes and pastries that rival the non-vegan recipes, you will not find them here. Supermarket Vegan focuses firmly on everyday meals and should therefore be considered only one of many books needed for a well rounded vegan library.
Then again, the book’s narrow focus is exactly what makes it enjoyable. You do not need to wade through dozens of recipes when trying to find a quick meal for yourself or a surprise vegan guest. Further, since the recipes are based on your average grocery store inventory, you will likely have the ingredients already sitting in your pantry. And because of that, you can quickly find and cook a full vegan meal within your normal dinner schedule.
Cooking vegan is not limited to those who are vegans. Some home cooks may simply want to cut down on their meat or fat intake over a short period of time, or for certain meals. Others may need ideas for catering to a vegan’s special needs with more exciting dishes than salads and steamed vegetables. Whatever the reasons may be for needing such recipes, Supermarket Vegan is sure to please anyone needing quick vegan meals without the shopping hassle.
Southwestern-Style Penne with Chilies, Corn, and Cilantro
Makes 4 Servings
2 tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Chopped Onion
1 cup Chopped Green Bell Pepper
2 Large Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 cup Cooked Fresh or Frozen Yellow Corn
1 cup Rinsed, drained canned red kidney or black beans (optional)
2 tbsp. drained, chopped mild green chillies
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. penne or other vegan-friendly tube pasta cooked according to package
4 Scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh Cilantro
Cherry or grape tomatoes for garnish
In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add the corn, beans (if using), chilies, cumin, salt and black pepper; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the pasta and scallions and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro, tossing well to combine. Serve warm, garnished with the tomatoes (if using.)