This caramel sauce is called for in making the so called “Ninja Nuts” that were part of the dessert. It is so delicious! I made a half-batch, and was still left with a whole lot left over (the nuts recipe only calls for 3 tablespoons). Luckily, it is delicious, and it lasts a little while in the fridge. I couldn’t find 100% mango juice, so I used mango-apricot juice, which worked wonderfully. The finished product is carmelly, mango-y, apricot-y, with a nice spicy kick at the end. So good!
Here’s a super fun and exciting new vegan cookbook to tell you about! I am so stoked to be a part of the Wicked Healthy blog tour. This book is so beautiful and interesting!
For years it seemed like every vegan cookbook that was published was aimed at people who had never heard of avocado toast or overnight oatmeal. I like those things as much as the next vegan, but I don’t personally need a recipe for them. Also, I’m super, super stoked that there are so many wonderful cookbooks to support people who are starting their vegan journeys. That said, it is so exciting and thrilling when I get my hands on a cookbook that is NOT aimed at beginners.
roasted garlic, oh how I love thee
Wicked Healthy is such an exciting book – it’s aimed at a competent home chef who loves cooking and loves innovative and adventurous flavors. The book is absolutely beautiful and is really fun and inspiring just to read. Wicked Healthy is written by two brothers, Chad and Derek Sarno, and there is a distinctly masculine tone to the writing – like two brothers playing and sparring in the kitchen. It’s not off-putting though, and it’s nice to see this voice in a vegan cookbook, since that genre is largely dominated by female authors. Both brothers are also trained chefs, and that is another cool thing about this book – I didn’t just make great recipes from it, I also learned some fun and useful new-to-me kitchen techniques from their recipes. I really love that!! It’s so exciting when a good book also teaches you how to improve your own skills in the kitchen.
super, super thin bread slices – a trick I learned from Wicked Healthy:
freeze the bread first and then slice it into the thinnest slices ever! GENIUS.
(this recipe is at the end of this post!)
As soon as this book arrived, I started flipping through it, staring at all the amazing pictures, and writing up a (long) list of all the recipes I wanted to try. Happily, the next week was the birthday of one of my very best besties and I had invited her and her family over for dinner. I decided to make five different recipes from Wicked Healthy to celebrate!
When you love someone that much, you can make an entire 5-course meal out of recipes you’ve never tried before, because you know they will forgive you if the whole thing is a bust. Luckily, not a single thing I made was a bust. Far from it – we all loved our meal, and we had such a super fun evening together.
Cucumber, Celery, Green Apple, and Kale Juice!
(from Juices and Cocktails / Juices and Coolers chapter)
Lately I’ve been kinda into green juice! I don’t have a juicer though, so I pureed everything in my Vitamix and then strained it through several layers of cheesecloth. This recipes makes two big glasses of green juice, but I made 5 little appetizer / palate cleanser glasses – one for each of us. It was very yum – perfect hint of sweet from the apple, and a good balance of flavors!
Roasted Beet Salad with Citrus and Tarragon Cashew Cream
I have the recipe for this beautiful and delicious salad at the end of this post! Check it out!
Wow, dudes. Check this biz out. I was very proud of myself. I got this plating idea straight from the photos in the book – because as you have probably noticed, I am not generally a plating wiz. I am more like an eating wiz. It was so fun to make something so gorgeous and have it all plated and ready when my friends arrived. I really wanted her to feel special!
This dish was so fun to prepare – there were many components, but none of it was difficult. The beets are roasted, the citrus is supremed, the little toasties are toasted, the tarragon cashew cream is pureed, the greens are tossed in dressing… It was such a pleasure to just take my time and enjoy all the different processes, and especially to have it all come together in such a beautiful and delicious result.
feeling pleased with the outcome!
Minted Pea Ricotta and Zucchini Toasts
Oh man, I think these beautiful little toasts might have been my favorite recipe of the evening. These were so delicious – delicate and bursting with perfectly balanced springtime flavors. These toasts would be appealing for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! The toasts have a lovely ricotta mixture, topped with lightly seared zucchini ribbons, and a sprinkle of microgreens. I used my panino press to just lightly grill the zucchini ribbons. Lightly cooking the zucchini ribbons made them softer for a more delicate curl, prettier, and more tasty too. Win-win-win!
The Minted Pea Ricotta mixture is absolutely stunning – a hint of lemon zest, shallot, and fresh peas (or frozen if it’s not peak pea season!). One suggestion in the book is to use that ricotta mixture in homemade ravioli, which would definitely be 100% amazing and I would like to try that!
The recipe calls for Kite Hill Ricotta as a base for the Minted Pea Ricotta. To that point, this book does call for a few brand name items in some of the recipes (Kite Hill ricotta, Ninja Squirrel Sriracha, Beyond Meat burgers). That’s not always my favorite thing in a cookbook, but I don’t mind it in this case. If you don’t have access to those brands, you could easily adapt. And the recipes themselves really add a lot, so it’s never just a recipe for a store-bought burger with ketchup on it or whatever.
You can find this recipe over here at Adventures In Cooking’s blog post about Wicked Healthy
Roasted Cauliflower Fagioli
(from Soups and Stews chapter)
I love a good veggie stew, and I loved the idea of repurposing Pasta Fagioli with a whole head of roasted cauliflower instead of all the pasta… to make it more veggie-dense. Three cheers for veggies! That said, I did also use the optional suggestion to add some little noodles – I used some of my tiny little noodles that are so small they are practically Israeli couscous.
We all loved this summery stew, and there was even some left over for me to enjoy the next day. The recipe intro says that this stew will be even better the next day, and – uh – that was true! Next time I will just make it a day ahead of when I intend to eat it! Ha ha.
This cookbook definitely has recipes-within-recipes: for example, in order to make this, I made the Nana Sarno’s Red Sauce. Not paying attention, I ended up making about 8 cups of red sauce, when the Fagioli recipe only called for two cups. I used some later for another recipe from the book and froze some to enjoy later as well.
Drunken Berries with Amaretto Gelato and Ninja Nuts
YESSSSSSSS. Hot DAMN this dessert was seriously something special. I won’t lie… it was also a lot of work. But I was in the mood for a culinary adventure and I enjoyed every moment of the process. All the recipes in this book came together as described in the write ups, no surprises and no instances where something took twice as long to cook or burned in half the time. You know what I’m talking about. Because the recipes were so well-written, that made it easier and not stressful to embark on a big project like this.
This was a real recipe-inside-a-recipe adventure:
Make the Mango Sriracha Caramel, to make the Ninja Nuts.
Make the ice cream base, chill, churn the ice cream
Cut and macerate the berries.
Almost all the desserts in this book (there aren’t too many) are fancy, complicated special-occasion deserts like this. Obviously, you could just make individual components – but based on our experience of this glorious gastronomic delight, I would suggest going the whole nine yards. This was seriously such a special and delicious combo of flavors and textures. Each component – the berries, the gelato, and the nuts – were excellent on their own, and just glorious in combination with each other! I’m quite sure that this was the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever made. Excellent flavor and texture.
Mango Sriracha Caramel
These “ninja nuts” (so called because the recipe suggests using Ninja Squirrel Sriracha) are toasted almonds coated with the Mango-Sriracha caramel. I made these tasty little power nuggets to go with our dessert, but then Mr. VE&T completely fell in love with them and declared them to be the “all time flavor of flavors.” So I have made several more batches since then! Once you’ve made the caramel, these are quick and easy to make. But be warned, they are really hard to stop eating!
Beautiful berries macerating in a Chambord base
The “Drunken Berries” component of the dessert was just lovely – fresh berries macerated in a mix based on Chambord liquer. What a great idea. And it was so nice to pour a little extra of the liquid over the gelato. Such a great combo with the somewhat-subtle Amaretto Gelato.
Since that dinner party, I’ve also made the Whole Roasted Zucchini with Red Sauce
and the Sriracha Kung Pao Brussels and Tofu (but I made it with broccoli) – which was an instant favorite! There are still so many more recipes that I have my eye on to try:
Grilled Cabbage with Mint and Peanut Butter Sauce
Kale and Avocado Salad with Wild Rice and Grapes
Black Garlic and Chive Panisse
Corn Dumplings in Corn Broth
Reuben on Dark Rye
Chocoholic Fudge Brownies with Sea Salt and Dried Strawberries
… and so many more!
I am so stoked that the publishers have offered for me to do a giveaway! To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post and tell me about your favorite fancy recipe to tackle at home, or what you’d like to try from this book, or really anything nice and relatively on-topic! Also, make sure to include your email address or a way to reach you, or I will just pick a different winner. Good luck!
Also, check out their Wicked Healthy Facebook page – they have links to other reviews and giveaways as well as some great videos with more recipes to try out.
Roasted Beet Salad with Citrus and Tarragon Cashew Cream
This was the most popular salad at my SAF Restaurant in London. Over the years since then, I’ve served it at many supper clubs and dinners. It’s always a hit. Slow roasting the baby beets gives them a deep sweetness that balances the earthiness. Watercress brings sharpness and bite. Cashew cream contributes richness. Sherry vinegar has the spark. Bread crisps give it crunch. Between the textures and flavors—and even the colors—this sexy dish just hits all the buttons. —Chad
12 small beets (3 pounds), rinsed, stems trimmed
1½ tablespoons everyday olive oil
3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices fresh lemon
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 small baguette (about 6 inches), frozen
1 tablespoon everyday olive oil, for pan-frying
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
About 1 cup Tarragon Cashew Cream (see below)
2 grapefruits or oranges, segmented
1 cup small watercress leaves or microgreens
½ tablespoon best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon
Flake salt, such as Maldon
Cracked black pepper
TARRAGON CASHEW CREAM
Makes About 1¾ Cups
1½ cups raw cashews
About 1/3 cup water
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1½ tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
1. FOR THE BEETS: Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Cut a giant sheet of foil twice the length of a baking sheet and place half of it on the pan.
2. In a bowl, toss the whole beets with the oil and thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Pour the beets onto the foil and scatter on the lemon slices. Leave space between the beets so they can steam. Fold over the other half of the foil and crimp all the edges, sealing the package tightly. Place the pan in the oven and slow roast until the beets are tender enough for a fork toslide in and out easily, 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Open the package and let cool.
3. When cool, put on some gloves to prevent staining yourself and peel away the beet skins with a paring knife (not under running water). Then slice the beets into small wedges. At this point the beets can be chilled in the fridge for a day or two before serving.
4. Just before serving, toss the beet wedges in a bowl with the vinegar and chives. Taste a wedge, then season with more salt and pepper until it tastes good to you.
5. FOR THE BREAD CRISPS:
Defrost the bread slightly.
6. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
7. While the bread is semi-frozen, cut into paper-thin slices on a mandoline. Place each slice one-by-one into the hot pan and cook until lightly browned and crisp, turning for even cooking, about a minute per side. Place on paper towels and immediately season with granulated garlic and salt. They will crisp up as they sit.
8. TO ASSEMBLE EACH PLATE:
Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons cashew cream in a line on the bottom of the plate. Arrange the beets, citrus segments, and bread crisps over the cashew cream, alternating the pieces.
9. Toss the watercress with the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Arrange the dressed watercress over the top of the salad. Finish with a pinch of flake salt and cracked black pepper.
*To get a jump on things, make the cashew cream and beets up to 2 days ahead and chill them in the fridge. You can even make the bread crisps a day ahead. Then just assemble everything and serve.
*Look for a mix of colorful beets like orange, red, and Chioggia (candy cane).
*Instead of crisping the bread in a pan, you could toss the paper-thin slices with olive oil and bake in a single layer at 350ºF until crisp.
Excerpted from the book THE WICKED HEALTHY COOKBOOK by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Copyright © 2018 by Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno.Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.