I’m a regular visitor to Heidi Swanson’s recipe blog 101 Cookbooks and have cooked several recipes from the site with a lot of success. Naturally, I was curious to take a look at her second cookbook Super Natural Every Day.
First impressions are that this is definitely a vegetarian’s vegetarian cookbook. Only a third of the recipes are vegan, and for many of the remaining recipes it would be challenging or pointless to veganise them because eggs, cheese or butter are key components.
Swanson is a champion of a wholefoods-based diet, and this is reflected by the book. Many recipes have full-page colour photos showing off the dynamic range of colours achieved when fresh vegetables take a starring role.
Her introduction pages include a guide to her pantry, the different staple foods she recommends and their uses. For example, she mentions her preference for lentils du Puy because of the way they hold their shape and highlights quinoa and bulgar wheat for good quick-cooking grains. At the end of the book she covers basic cooking techniques such as preparing brown rice, whipping your own cream and cooking beans.
I’ve only tried two recipes from the book: Black Sesame Otsu and White Bean Spread. I picked the otsu recipe because it looked rich in flavour and I had most of the ingredients already at hand. I will definitely make this again, but in spring or summer – as it is more of a cold dish, than a hearty one. Toasted black sesame seeds give it a rich black colour and nutty flavour and the sauce has a piquant combination of mirin and brown rice vinegar.
The White Bean Spread with rosemary and toasted almonds is perfect for a snack or nibbles with drinks. It was so delicious that I’ll definitely be making it again. It has a robust rosemary and garlic flavour and extra texture from the toasted almonds. I’m also curious to try the Carnival Cookies which include popped corn, but I’m not sure if that’s too much of a gamble.
The charm of Swanson’s recipes is that they appear so simple and straightforward but the balance of flavours is so spot on, that the result, so far, is always delicious and satisfying.