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Book Reviews

Nut Butter Cookbook by Robin Robertson

Book Review:
Nut Butter Cookbook by Robin Robertson
review by Marla Rose

Another day, another kick-ass kitchen addition from Robin Robertson, vegan cookbook author extraordinaire. I didn’t realize anything was stone was left unturned from her impressive oeuvre, but it turns out that I was wrong: nut butters - cashew, peanut, almonds and more, as well as seeds like sesame - are explored in The Nut Butter Cookbook: 100 Delicious Vegan Recipes Made Better with Nut Butter, a revision of her earlier Nut Butter Universe, and with them, an opportunity to add richness and depth to our food.

With a really informative and helpful foreword by Julieanna Hever, we learn that nuts and seeds have been given an unnecessarily bad rap. While the calories of nuts and seeds are high in total fat, they are low in saturated fats, and rich in protein, vitamins E, B6, folate and more, and they are also a good source for minerals like calcium, zinc, selenium, among others. As she says, “...the preponderance of information suggests that consuming a moderate amount of nuts and seeds - approximately one ounce per day - has significant health advantages, particularly when the serving of nuts replaces the calories from somewhere else in the diet.” So don’t go “nuts” but feel free to enjoy them in moderation.

Now, on to the recipes...as with all of Robin’s cookbooks, I appreciate the international scope and accessible - both in ease of creating at home and access to ingredients - but flavorfully bold recipes. With recipes ranging from soups and salads to main dishes and desserts, Robin offers dozens of tempting recipes, like Quinoa and Black Beans with Cashew Queso Sauce, Indonesia Gado-Gado, and, oh my, Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake. The recipes are clear and simple to follow with evocative descriptions, and they also are designated by oil-, gluten- and soy-free ingredients; many also offer alternative ingredient suggestions for those wanting to avoid those things. The food geek in me also loved the informative the first chapter, where we learn that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg held the original patent for peanut butter, which he promoted as a animal-free protein for his patients, how nuts are used all over the world (for example, peanut sauces and stews abound in Asia and Africa), how to store nut butters, and how to make our own nut butters with a food processor. The whole book made me crave a simple PB and J sandwich (and develop a craving I didn’t know I had to try Robin’s favorite version, made with lime marmalade), and a peanut butter cup. Oh, and a glass of almond milk.

In short, I’d recommend The Nut Butter Cookbook to novice and advanced cooks, herbivores and omnivores alike. It’s yet another home run from our reigning cookbook champ, Robin Robertson. Many thanks to Robin and Andrews McMeel Publishing for permission to reprint the following recipe.

Linguine with Thai Pesto

Redolent of garlic, lemongrass, and pungent herbs, this Asian-style pesto makes a fabulous fusion dish when combined with linguine. Most of these ingredients, including the slender, hot Thai chile, are available in supermarkets. Thai basil can be found in Asian markets, as can any of the other ingredients that your regular market may not stock. To make this gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Serves: 4

2 large cloves garlic
1 Thai bird chile, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, chopped
1 teaspoon natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
12 ounces linguine
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Combine the garlic, chile, lemongrass, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process to a paste. Add the basil, cilantro, and parsley and process until finely ground. Add the peanut butter, water, and lime juice and blend thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

Cook the linguine in a large pot of salted water just until tender. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a little of the hot pasta water, if necessary, to thin the sauce. Garnish with peanuts and serve immediately.

2013, 2014, Vegan Street

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