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Book Reviews

We review the new cookbook from Zsu Dever: Vegan Bowls

Book Review:
Vegan Bowls: Perfect flavor harmony in cozy one-bowl meals

by Zsu Dever
review by Marla Rose

I am biased toward bowls. Let’s get that out in the open at the very beginning.

Vegan food on a plate, well, I am not going to start boycotting it any time soon but in a bowl? Well, it’s suddenly a party. There is something about the concave shape that lends itself to more colors and more creativity than a boring, flat surface: put your meal in a bowl and suddenly you have potato mountains, broccoli forests, a savory sauce sea, quinoa sand, sprinklings of sesame hail, a delicious, exciting meal that is ready to eat. Bowls also mean comfort foods around the globe and that is what this new cookbook by Zsu Dever and Vegan Heritage Press are capturing in Vegan Bowls: Perfect Flavor Harmony in Cozy One-Bowl Meals. As a longtime fan of the bowl and, um, food – and the two of them together – I jumped at the chance to review Vegan Bowls.

A colorful volume with abundant (and enticing) photos and the clear page layout that I’ve come to expect from Vegan Heritage Press, Vegan Bowls is a great cookbook for anyone who wants to bring the beauty of bowl food to your life with a minimum of fuss. With meals designed with texture, aroma, flavor combinations, color and taste (meaning sweetness, saltiness, etc.) in mind, these bowls satisfy the palate, the eye and the belly. While the recipes aren’t designed to be one-pot meals – bowl food by its very nature has multiple points of interest with starches, proteins, sauces and vegetables combined together – and Vegan Bowl recipes no different, spotlighting dishes that are simple to construct, inexpensive to make, nutritious and easy to adapt. This is peasant food at its finest.

With ten chapters, including one with a really handy chart for getting started on creating your own bowls, it’s easy to see that Ms. Dever is a fan of food from around the globe, which lends itself to the bowl form beautifully. Some show-stoppers that jumped out at me were the Thai Panang Curry Bowl from the chapter on grain bowls, the Holiday Bowl (vegan Thanksgiving in a bowl, people!) from the chapter on sautéed bowls; the Lemongrass Bok Choy and Tofu Bowl from the chapter on pasta bowls; the Sambal-Glazed Tempeh Bowl from the grilled bowls chapter; the BLT Club Salad with Quick Croutons from the salad bowls chapter; the Everyday Dal with Potato Cakes from the soup bowl chapter and the Ful Medames from the breakfast bowl chapter. That last chapter, full of mostly savory bowls, is especially appealing to those of us who are bored with our morning routine or want to step up our brunch game a bit.

The recipes are written simply and clearly, with designations of soy- or gluten-free (as well as suggestions on how to adapt to replace the soy or gluten), these dishes are bursting with color, flavor and variety within each recipe. I appreciate that the recipes are also low fat and that the ingredients are fairly easy to find with the occasional spice or flavoring element requiring a trip to a more specialty grocery store. (Today, many well-stocked, large natural food stores would have all the ingredients you’d need, though.) Want some Instagram-ready meals to show off how gorgeous and appealing vegan cuisine can be? This is the cookbook for you.

I recommend Vegan Bowls for anyone from novice cooks to those who just want to expand their repertoire a bit. You won’t get bored with this one, I promise, and you won’t regret it.

© 2013-2015, Vegan Street

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