Robin Robertson, author of more than twenty cookbooks, proves that great flavors should have no boundaries in her newest cookbook “Vegan Without Borders.” Inside are 150 dishes from more than twenty different countries in Europe, Africa, India, Asia and the Americas that unite culinary traditions of the world’s cuisines with plant-based ingredients.
Organized by country / region, the recipes (including comfort foods as well as global ethnic favorites) are simple and in most cases do not require extensive prep. Each recipe calls out the key instructions in bold, so you don’t need to worry about missing a step.
One of the things I love about “Vegan Without Borders” is the fact that it includes cuisines not frequently seen in other vegetarian / vegan cookbooks (Ethiopia, Morocco, West Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, the Caribbean), so I was introduced to all kinds of new dishes like caakiri, jackfruit curry, mei fun, and momos.
Some of the recipes are updates on familiar favorites, like a brandy-laced onion soup, falafel pie prepared casserole-style, kale-stuffed phyllo “pens”, Korean kimchi pancakes, eggplant satays, and pineapple fried rice. I loved the presentations of the mango and rice verrines, a play on the traditional Thai sticky rice with mangos. The layers of coconut-sweetened jasmine rice, fresh mangoes, and crushed peanuts create a gorgeous layered dessert that looks like you spent all day making it!
A handy list of recipes by category (gluten-free, soy-free, low oil / no oil, and quick and easy) makes it easy to plan around allergies or other dietary restrictions. Two dozen cleverly named sample menus will give you a springboard for your next international night, whether you’re looking for tapas or taverna to Korean “Seoul” food, Vietnam noms, or stay-in Chinese.
Mediterranean-inspired dishes like artichoke crostini with chickpeas and arugula, trofie all pesto with green beans and potatoes, and vegetable paella brought back memories of working and traveling in Spain and Italy. As a fan of Middle Eastern and North African cooking, the vegan takes on Moroccan tagines and the spicy couscous with carrots and chickpeas were much appreciated; as I keep harissa, canned chickpeas, golden raisins and veggie stock in the pantry at all times, this makes it an easy-to-assemble dish that I can have on the table in about 15 minutes. You’ll also find old-fashioned American comfort food like butternut mac and cheese, a chocolate layer cake, and Boston baked beans and brown bread.
The gorgeous photography incorporates elements from each of the unique cultures represented, from paper lanterns and floating markets to piles of glittering bangles and serene golden Buddhas. The sides of the pages cleverly mirror the featured country or region using geometric tiles and embroidery.
Overall, this is a wonderful addition to your cookbook collection whether you’re a longtime vegan, are in the process of transitioning to a vegan diet, or are simply looking for lighter, healthier takes on international comfort foods. “Vegan Without Borders” lets you travel the world from the comfort of your kitchen!
(Review copy courtesy of the author)