Cookbook review: Eat Raw, Eat Well, by Douglas McNish! »
When Vegansaurus gave me the chance to review Douglas McNish’s new cookbook, Eat Raw, Be Well, I consented enthusiastically and chomped at the bit until it arrived. I love making raw, vegan, gluten-free food (obviously) that isn’t too complicated or hard to prepare. In my opinion, overly intricate raw food cookbooks do more harm than good for the aspiring raw food chef. Sure, the pictures are nice, the descriptions fanciful, and their promise of gastronomic decadence enticing—but once casual chefs attempt some recipe with a mile-long ingredient list and super-complex instructions, they often grow discouraged that they drop raw food preparation altogether. I think that’s so sad!
When it comes to feeding myself, my friends, my family, and my dearest, I prefer recipes that favor simplicity and easy-to-digest combinations. I heard that this cookbook focused on easy-to-prepare recipes that don’t go overboard with ingredients required to make everything. Eat Raw, Eat Well recipes range from super-simple, three-ingredient raw cauliflower popcorn (nutritional yeast! salt! cauliflower!) to dishes that will take a bit more time to prepare.
This book has tons of recipes for the very beginner chef, including some great tips on how to make them on the left. Before reading this book, I reached into the knife drawer at my communal household in Glendale and pulled out whatever seemed cleanest. Now, I often search for the pairing knife that we keep sequestered in a special drawer when possible, because Mr. McNish says it’s good to do that and I think he’s right! Now I cut with ease and confidence, bitch.
The publishers gave me permission to post one of my favorite recipes in the book, the Pesto-Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccine (page 236).
This dish is a great way to get as many healthy ingredients into your body as possible without having to sacrifice any of the things you love. The softness of the root vegetables makes it reminiscent of traditional al dente pasta.
Makes two servings
3 large carrots, peeled
3 large parsnips, peeled 3
1 Tbsp. cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil (15 ml)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided (60 ml)
1 1/2 Tbsp. fine sea salt, divided (22 ml)
3/4 cup cold-pressed hemp oil (175 ml)
1/2 cup raw shelled hemp seeds (125 ml)
3 cloves garlic
3 cups chopped fresh cilantro leaves (750 ml)
1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots and parsnips into long, thin strips, dropping into a bowl as completed (see Tips) Add olive oil, 1 tsp. (5 ml) lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt, and toss until vegetables are well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes, until softened.
2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process hemp oil and seeds, garlic and remaining lemon juice and salt, until somewhat smooth but the hemp seeds retain some texture. Add cilantro and process until chopped and blended, stopping the motor once to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add pesto to fettuccine, toss well and serve.
Substitute an equal quantity of parsley leaves for the cilantro.
Toss the fettuccine from Step 1 with another sauce, instead of the pesto.
Peeling the vegetables lengthwise produces the long, thin strips required for this recipe. For best results use a Y-shaped (slingshot) vegetable peeler. When using a regular peeler, you can glide down the length of the vegetable to make one long, thin strip.
If you prefer, combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl before tossing with the vegetables, to ensure even integration.
I am not a big fan of agave and kind of think it’s gross, so I was happy to see the desserts go light on them. In general, Eat Raw, Eat Well's recipes are nutrient-rich and focus on using low-glycemic, healthful ingredients. There are better books out there if you're just getting into raw food. Raw Food for One and Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine top my list for raw beginners, but I think this book would be a very good choice for the beginning to intermediate raw food chef. Happy uncooking to you!
Pasta with kale pesto from Love & Lemons! I been trying to get more into kale because apparently it’s like the best thing for you ever. But I don’t like plan old steamed greens! But THIS I could get down with. I love pesto! Basil is the greatest thing ever but I could go for kale to mix it up sometimes. What do you think? Genius or a waste of pine nuts?
Last night’s dinner: penne with roasted-pepper and pumpkin seed pesto, and garlicky greens. SO GOOD.
I found the pesto at Simple Recipes, but for starters I didn’t have roasted red peppers: I had three raw bell peppers, two orange and one red. Oh how grateful we are for the internet! I found these instructions for roasting them, and it was pretty easy, not to mention fun, to turn these gorgeous vegetables all black over actual fire. Be bold in your kitchen!
I also didn’t have pine nuts, and though I had several other varieties of nuts I didn’t want their taste to overpower the flavor of the peppers in the pesto, so I substituted about 2/3 cup pumpkin seeds instead. Now, mine were “roasted, lightly salted” and unhulled—versus pepitas, which are naked—but removing the hulls seemed like a hellish process of doom, so I threw the seeds in whole, adding a little extra to compensate for their hulls.
I didn’t expect the pesto to be as sweet as it turned out, but of course the roasted bell peppers were super-rich and sugary. Dandelion greens, though, have a very earthy, bitter taste, and the contrast was SCRAMAZING. You guys, so good. And so easy, really. Yes, time-consuming, but I have so much fucking time on my hands, it’s obscene. So you should make this, it’s delicious and good for you and you will love it.
Pesto to pesto »
I. HEART. PESTO. For reals, I could eat the stuff with a spoon! What am I talking about, could eat the stuff with a spoon?! Been there, ate that! But since I’ve become vegan, my pesto consumption has fallen off due to the fact that traditional pesto tends to have parmesan in it. LAME. However, today for your viewing pleasure, I present two vegan pestos!
I recently wrote about the vegan bolanis available at Whole Foods and other places. If you recall, I mentioned that the bolanis are a tad dry but the company that makes them also makes several vegan sauces that I imagine accompany them nicely. Although, the first sauce I got to go with the lentil bolani I was buying was not made by them. It’s a cheeseless pesto made by Pasta, etc. in Sonoma county. I think Pasta, etc. is a restaurant? They don’t have a website as far as I can tell (who doesn’t have a website? It’s like, why don’t you join us in the ’90s?) so I can’t be sure. If anyone can shed light on this, please do. But let me tell you! This pesto is the sheezy! I love it! And I have to say it goes better with the lentil bolani than the other. It actually goes GREAT with the bolani. I love garlic, and this does have some bite, but it’s not overpowering. It’s got a very fresh, lemony flavor and the little bits of cashew are super. This pesto is also good in pasta, though it’s a lot runnier than the pesto I’m used to. I like to put this pesto into pasta with tomato sauce. You know, like a big spoonful on top after you’ve mixed the pasta and tomato sauce together. Fantastico!
The East and West Gourmet Aphgan Food pesto is OK. It’s got more of a traditional pesto texture—thicker and pastier. I think this would probably be better on pasta than the other; or maybe not better, but definitely more like pesto usually tastes. It has kind of a bitter flavor to it, maybe because of the parsley? My mom never put parsley in her pesto. It’s OK on the lentil bolani (side note: I didn’t really like either pesto on the pumpkin or spinach bolanis (haven’t tried the potato yet) but I think pesto is a perfect choice for the lentil ones) but the Pasta, etc. one goes better with it.
Both of these are available at the SOMA Whole Foods (I know the Whole Foods CEO is crazy but I’m not ready to give it up!). The Pasta, etc. one is in the section with the fresh pastas and pre-packaged cheeses. The bolani people’s one is next to the bolanis in a little freezer.
There you have it, my friends! Get your pesto on!