Once upon a time, before an army of vegan cookbooks took over bookstore shelves, there were three that nearly every vegan cut his/her teeth on: Vegan with a Vengeance, Veganomiconand Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
The cupcakes book, I think, was the first vegan cookbook I ever bought. I still remember how delightfully surprised I was at just how perfect the eggless, dairyless cupcakes turned out. Instantly, I became a fan of the two authors, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (who also cowrote the other two cookbooks I mentioned above)
So when I recently got a copy of Moskowitz’s latest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction, I couldn’t wait to start cooking. Losing some weight has been at the top of my goals for this new year, and given how much I hate the idea of being told not to eat something, Moskowitz spoke to me eloquently in her foreword:
“Healthy cooking doesn’t have to mean deprivation. It doesn’t mean restraint, it doesn’t mean willpower, and to hell with the idea of “being good”.”
Hooray for that!
Variety is a must to spice up any diet and this book is filled with fresh, healthy recipes, including several for soups and salads but also for heartier, heftier courses made with beans, tofu and tempeh, pasta, and comfort foods like chili and stews. There are also dishes from around the world, like Red Thai Tofu, Arabian Lentil & Rice Soup, and 2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma which, Moskowitz explains, is ready in 30 minutes and is based on a dish she would eat at Madras, one of her favorite New York City restaurants that has closed down since.
I almost made the Korma first because– as I’ve said on these pages before–Desi will eat anything with the word “korma” in it. But then this Saturday I was looking for something light for lunch I could make in a hurry, like a gravy that I could just drizzle over a baked sweet potato, and I remembered a recipe I’d seen in this book that had seemed healthy, easy and something for which I had all the ingredients on hand. Silky Chickpea Gravy.
Besides, what can possibly be more appealing than gravy for a weight-watcher.
So I made it, and we ate it for lunch, and the salty-herby flavor was delicious with the sweet potato. I know I will be making this one again, and I hope to get to the korma soon.
Here’s the recipe. The author recommends it over mashed potatoes. Yum.
Silky Chickpea Gravy
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, chopped (I used a couple more, because I love garlic)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rubbed sage (not powdered)
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 (15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
Preheat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, sage, and pepper, and cook for about 3 minutes more.
While that is cookin, whisk the arrowroot into the veggie broth until dissolved
If you have an immersion blender, then add the beans, broth mixture and soy sauce to the pot. Blend until smooth and lower the heat to medium, stirring often for about 10 minutes while it thickens.
If you are using a regular blender, place the broth mixture and beans in the blender and blend until smooth. Add the onions and other stuff from the pan to the blender and puree again until smooth. Add back to the pot and stir often over medium heat to thicken.
Once the gravy thickens, lower the heat to low. Now you can decide exactly how thick you want the gravy by adding splashes of water, anywhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. Keep warm and covered until ready to serve.