Those of you who have seen my Instagram probably know by now that I don’t subscribe to any specific kind of plant-based eating. I don’t classify foods as “bad” or “good”, and I find just as much pleasure from Chocolate Oreos as I do from salads. Therefore, you might be wondering why I’m reviewing a cookbook that touts itself as “seasonal, clean, and nourishing” when I don’t give the “clean eating” movement much attention.
I requested a copy of Simply Vibrant on Edelweiss+ because I’m always looking for new, exciting recipes, and I’m trying to be a bit better about cooking with different vegetables (I tend to use the same ones over and over again– broccoli, looking at you here). Many of Kassoff’s recipe ideas are inspired and look absolutely delicious, thanks to the excellent photographs included in the book, but I was a put off by the number of expensive ingredients included in both the recipes and the list of Kassoff’s pantry staples. While I won’t turn my nose at black rice, quinoa, or almond butter, those ingredients can be expensive, and I would have loved to see some cheaper substitution suggestions included in the book.
Now, on to the recipes. I chose 2 recipes to try in my kitchen: the Strawberry and Rhubarb Oven Pancake and the Baked Potato Latkes. Since it’s February in Ireland, there was not a stalk of rhubarb to be had, and the strawberries at the Lidl looked sad and artificial, so I subbed in some mango from the local Asian grocery store, wholemeal flour for the whole wheat spelt, and I have to admit, this recipe was damn tasty. I love pancakes, but sometimes I don’t want to spend half an hour at the stove flipping one batch after another, so this is the perfect solution for those weekends when I want pancakes without all the effort. I’m excited to try this out with actual strawberry and rhubarb, as well, though the basic pancake recipe would work well with many different fruits.
I was a bit more sceptical about the outcome of the Baked Potato Latkes. The only thing binding them together was flax seed meal, and while I’ve seen recipes before that only used the starch from the potatoes themselves to bind the latkes together for frying, I wasn’t sure that it would work quite the same in the oven. But I was wrong! These latkes were perfectly crisp on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, with a pleasing lemon flavour. They definitely took a bit longer than just frying the latkes, but again, there’s no standing in front of the stove with this recipe, which freed me up to do other things in the kitchen.
My Kindle copy of this cookbook did have some glitches with the formatting– ingredient lists were on the wrong page, for example. Overall, the book was well-structured, though, and I love that Kassoff notes which season each recipe should be used in, making it easy for you to find a recipe to suit the plethora of grapes, for example, that your local CSA might stick you with.
I’ll definitely be cooking from this book again, but I’ll be using my own substitutions for spelt flour, maple syrup, quinoa because while I love the recipe ideas in this book, I do not love an astronomical grocery bill.