I’m so happy to see that Oprah is going vegan—for 21 days, at least — in what she’s calling a “21-day cleanse as a way to jump-start an inner makeover.” In this plan, she has eliminated animal products from her diet and has invited her fans to join her. How cool is that?
Best of all, it actually seems like Oprah “gets” the reason why many of us are vegan. In her blog, she writes: “How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?”
I also think it’s great that Erik Marcus at Vegan.com is pitching in to help those who are taking Oprah’s vegan challenge and are new to veganism. During the next three weeks, his VegTalk podcast is going to offer daily guidance and support to new vegans. On the May 21st podcast, Erik recommends his three favorite cookbooks for new vegans and I’m honored to report that two of them were my own Quick-Fix Vegetarian and Vegan Planet, along with that other bastion of vegan recipes, Veganomicon.
Here’s hoping that Oprah’s 21-day vegan challenge is a catalyst for getting more and more people to go vegan and the beginning of a new era for veganism and all that it represents. What do you think?
Erik Marcus over at Vegan.com has accomplished an astonishing feat with a feature article called Vegan.Com Top 10 Recipes of 2008. In it, he has managed to compile a favorite recipe from the authors of 10 recent popular vegan cookbooks, along with a photo of each recipe and commentary by each of the authors. I’m honored to be included in this stellar group with my recipe for Indonesian Coconut Rice from Vegan Fire and Spice. Check out the article and see if your favorite books (and recipes) made the cut.
REMINDER: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your entry in the “Creative Couscous Cake Contest” – the contest closes on May 10. These couscous cakes are so easy to make, there’s no reason not to enter! (BTW, if you have more than one amazing idea, there’s no limit on how many entries you can enter…)
In case anyone hasn’t already heard the news: vegan author and publisher, Erik Marcus has relaunched his great Vegan.com website and reformatted his podcast to a weekly 20-minute interview show. I’m a longtime fan of Erik and his work, so naturally I was thrilled to be invited as a guest to talk about one of my favorite topics – spring produce!
On the podast, we discuss was how roasting brings out the flavor of many vegetables and how asparagus and baby red potatoes are especially great roasted. (BTW, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are amazing cooked this way, too) If any of these are vegetables that you think you don’t like, I encourage you to try them roasted at least once.
We also talk about the wonderful tender young green beans beginning to show up this time of year and, of course, the terrific baby greens and lettuces that are so great in salads. I promised Erik that his listeners could link over here to my blog to get some of the recipes we talked about on the show, so I’ve posted them below. Congrats to Erik on the new and improved Vegan.com!
When roasted, asparagus is my absolute favorite vegetable. I like it that way so much, that I rarely prepare it any other way. If you haven’t tried roasting asparagus, you’re in for a treat. Irresistible in its own right, serve it with a squeeze of lemon for supreme dining pleasure.
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the trimmed asparagus spears on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the asparagus until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Serve hot.
Nicoise-Style Green Bean and New Potato Salad
This hearty and flavorful salad teams up spring produce favorites: tender green beans and new potatoes on a bed of mixed baby lettuces. Add black olives, tomatoes, and a zesty vinaigrette dressing for a delicious salad inspired by the country French classic. Chickpeas or white beans add substance and help to make it a meal. It’s great served with crusty grilled bread. I adapted this recipe from Vegan Planet.
1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes
8 ounces green beans, steamed
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Niçoise olives (or other imported black olives), pitted
1 cup cooked chickpeas or white beans
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Baby salad greens, to serve
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with enough salted cold water to cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, and cut in half or quarters. Transfer to a large bowl. Cut the green beans into 1-inch lengths and add to the bowl, along with the scallions, tomatoes, olives, and chickpeas, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, parsley, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper. Whisk until blended and pour over the salad. Toss gently until thoroughly blended and serve on a bed of torn salad greens.
Serves 4 to 6
Note: you can also roast your potatoes for this recipes, instead of boiling or steaming them.