While I regularly rip recipes out of magazines and am a frequent visitor to the BBC Good Food website, I still can’t resist a good, old-fashioned, physical cookbook. From ‘Deliciously Ella’ to ‘River Cottage Veg’, and Anna Jones’s ‘Modern Way to Eat’ to Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’, our kitchen shelves are packed full of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, which we regularly plunder to compile our weekly menu. With the growth of veganism in recent years, and with an ever increasing array of vegan-friendly products on the market, it seems that the range of things you can do with a medjool date and a block of tofu is rapidly expanding. As such, I’m not averse to splashing out on a new vegan cookbook to help grow my recipe repertoire and allow me to explore new flavours and tasty food combinations.
This month I’ve been trying out Matt Pritchard’s new vegan cookbook, ‘Dirty Vegan’. In sharp contrast to Ella and Anna (in personal style at least), Matt is a tattooed, skateboarding, Ironman. He switched to veganism three years ago having been inspired by other meat-free athletes. The book contains 80 recipes. These range from simple breakfasts to hearty soups and stews, colourful salads and indulgent puddings.
While the usual suspects feature – scrambled tofu, overnight oats, energy balls, bean chilli, chickpea curry etc. – a few new recipes and intriguing ingredient combinations caught my eye. The marmalade toast and tea porridge, for example, certainly left me curious. This involves brewing a teabag in almond milk. You then use this to make the porridge and sourdough croutons that are added as a topping.
There are also some great looking canapé-style dishes. The chickpea kickshaws (little pastry pockets) with coconut sambal and the squash and shroom momos with yuzu dip both make ideal ‘impress-your-guests’ party food.
Jackfruit and red pepper goulash
I was keen to try the jackfruit and red pepper goulash as I’ve had a tin of jackfruit in the cupboard for a while now and I’ve been unsure what to do with it! The goulash was really hearty and delicious, perfect January fayre. It was great to use herbs such as caraway, which I don’t often use, to add new flavour dimensions. The portions were also a good, generous size, an important factor for any hungry vegan! I’m also excited to try the recipe for the pea and potato dosa. I love dosa but have never made them myself before. I also want to try the malt loaf, made with fig, prunes, tea and chia seeds. Perfect snacking after my Sunday long runs!
Like most cookbooks, there is a combination of recipes containing easy to buy, store-cupboard ingredients – chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, tomato puree, garlic, flour, soy sauce etc. – alongside fresh vegetables and herbs (in fact, for the goulash the only thing I needed to buy in was some fresh dill), and others, which require going a little further afield to source slightly more exotic or specifically vegan items, such as panko breadcrumbs and seaweed flakes for the ‘fish’ fingers, or the vegan gelatine and vegan cream cheese for the cheesecake. Extensive ingredient lists tend to put me off, but I’m pleased to say that this book doesn’t fall foul of this. The cooking instructions were also really easy to follow.
With the book, Pritchard says that he hopes to target those new to vegan cookery, as well as people who want recipes that are easy to follow, and those looking for tasty, healthy food, and I think this book certainly fulfils that remit. I’d also say, from a personal perspective, that it’s appealing to extant vegans too. There are lots of delicious new flavour combinations, stews, cakes and canape dishes that I’ve not encountered elsewhere and am keen to try out.
‘Dirty Vegan: Proper Banging Vegan Food’ by Matt Pritchard is published by Mitchell Beazley and is available to buy now at £20. Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry. Dirty Vegan is on BBC One Wales and available on BBC iPlayer in January 2019. You can find out more about Matt at www.dirtysanchez.co.uk or follow him on Instagram at @pritchardswyd
DISCLOSURE: I was given this book to review on behalf of Mitchell Beazley, part of the Octopus Publishing Group. All opinions are my own.