Grills Gone Vegan by Tamasin Noyes is a new vegan cookbook from Tennessee-based Book Publishing Co. If you have a number of vegan cookbooks, it’s likely that you already have a few of theirs. They’re responsible for Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese, Davis’ & Melina’s Becoming Vegan, Bianca Phillips’ Cookin’ Crunk, Tofu Cookery, and so many more. I own at least a dozen of their titles – so I was thrilled when BPC contacted me about reviewing Noyes’ latest.
Grills! I didn’t know a thing about ‘em. I used to sell them when I worked at a hardware store, but I can say with authority that the amount of time I’ve spent hovering over one in the past five years is somewhere around zero minutes. The book promises advise on purchasing the right type of grill – gas, charcoal, grill pan, or electric grill – and Tamasin certainly comes through. Chapter one is devoted to “Getting Started” with sections on outdoor grills, indoor grills, essential utensils, how to maximize grill flavors, marinades, are more. In sixteen short pages I went from basically ignorant to grill confident.
Sadly, I don’t YET have my grill (or cast-iron grill pan, or electric grill, etc…). You’d think that would make testing this book impossible, right? Wrong. I’m working around my current grill-less-ness by adapting recipes and selecting ones that were never meant for the grill anyway.
Take the scallion-tahini dressing (pg. 178), for instance. Flavored with red pepper flakes, mirin, lime, and umeboshi plum, it was a perfect match for my pantry. And who doesn’t love a tahini-based dressing? I like tahini so much I eat it with a spoon.
The scallions in this recipe are supposed to be grilled, but I roasted them under the broiler for the same effect, then whizzed them in the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
I chose to toss the finished dressing in some bitter-spicy local organic greens. The sweetness of the dressing (from a touch of agave with the lime juice) both tempered and transformed my lackluster leaves. The heat from the red pepper flakes was mellowed by the creamy tahini. I topped the salad with some Georgia pecan pieces and roasted pattypan squash from ’round here for a little more sweetness. (FYI: pecans and squash are, flavorwise, best friends forever.) I was so impressed with the way Noyes’ dressing anchored and united all of the flavors.
I served the salad with a perfect little portion of summery pesto pasta. I totally missed the fact that Noyes has a recipe for pesto in Grills Gone Vegan (pg. 108), so I used Miyoko Schinner’s recipe from The New Now & Zen Epicure (yet another BPC title!). Schinner’s recipe is ridiculously decadent (one cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup pine nuts, etc – aka AMAZING), so I think I’ll try Noyes’ next time, which is lightened up with vegetable broth and only a smidgen of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Another recipe I’m really excited about is the Smoke Booster (pg. 161). Noyes conceived of the Smoke Booster as a way to add a complex campfire flavor to foods without relying on the old vegan standard liquid smoke. As I see it, liquid smoke is really the easiest option, but it’s also kind of a blunt-force cop-out. Noyes’ Smoke Booster is based on lapsang souchong (aka, one of Nate’s favorite teas, and something we always have around) and a mix of spices, with just a little bit of liquid smoke to round it out.
Note: I highly recommend going ahead and doubling the Smoke Booster recipe when you make it. It keeps a week in the fridge, and you may just find yourself adding a touch of it to everything.
I’m looking forward to trying the Smoke Booster in the Sausage Bites (pg. 41), a foil-steamed sausage with tempting seasonings like onion, marjoram, fennel, apple butter, and maple syrup. These sausages certainly can be grilled, but they can also be browned in a cast-iron or other skillet with a little oil like most sausages.
Chapter seven – Remarkable Rubs, Marinades, and Sauces – is my favorite. These are dependable, flexible recipes that can be used in a variety of dishes. All-purpose dry rub, barbecue rub, harissa dry mix, sweet-and-spicy marinade, and Russian dressing are just a few of the standards I want to try.
The takeaway: if you’re even mildly interested in grilling or just want to hold your own at the barbecue, you need this book. Bonus: it is the only book about grilling you’ll ever need!