The photography in Luscious Vegetarian is gorgeous – and luscious – something as essential in a cookbook as presentation is in a restaurant. A third of the recipes are accompanied by photos that burst with colour; your imagination easily adds the smells, textures and flavour. The honey oozing between the figs on the front cover is tantalizing.
Over a third of the recipes in Luscious Vegetarian are vegan. Honey is used liberally throughout the book but if this were substituted with agave or another syrup, many more would be vegan-friendly. Co-author Sonia Cabano (author of Easy, Simple & Delicious) is not a vegetarian herself but for health reasons encourages people to celebrate plant-based eating and vegetarian food.
Luscious Vegetarian follows no particular culinary theme. The chapters are: quick, light, pure, feast, relax, bake and basic, serving up dishes that range from Asian-inspired, such as Indonesian Peanut Dip and Agedashi Tofu (both of which I’ll be making soon), to Italian: Ricotta Puffs with Honey and Almonds. And there are recipes to feast upon, such as Saffron Rice Pilaff with Almonds and Minted Yoghurt, and White Chocolate Mousse with Chilli Grilled Pineapple. The authors make it clear that they are writing for their South African audience, using ingredients close to home, but none of the ingredients struck me as difficult to attain or unusual for New Zealand cooks.
The final chapter covers a simple selection of basic recipes. Some are fairly standard, including Green Curry Paste and Dukka but there are also recipes for Ginger Miso Dressing, and Vanie’s Lemon Atchar.
This is not a cookbook that invites you in with gorgeous food only to repel you with how time-consuming or elaborate it is to prepare. Many of the recipes are only two to four steps long, with only a handful closer to 10 steps. The cookbook will be well-thumbed, not relegated permanently to the display shelf.