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The Vegetarian Kitchen 03/14/12

A sumptuous meat and dairy-free cookbook featuring soul-satisfying food. Two copies are up for grabs! By Laura Cooke

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Summary: Beautifully photographed, South African dairy and meat-free  cookbook for your everyday cook.

What a pleasure it was to discover this gorgeous, brand-new South African vegetarian cookbook for lactose-intolerant people (which means, even though it doesn’t say it outright on the cover, it’s totally vegan). Written by Mellissa Bushby, The Vegetarian Kitchen aims to “illustrate not only a healthier way of eating, but also a way for the many vegetarian and lactose-intolerant people out there to see how easy it actually is to eat delicious, soul-satisfying food without meat or dairy.”

It fills me with optimism that a book like this has been published by Struik publishing in South Africa and suggests that the idea of eating a more plant-based diet is starting to enter the mainstream consciousness. While there are loads of veggie books, organisations, magazines and websites in the UK and the US, from my experience, vegetarianism and veganism is still relatively fringe in SA.

That said, we have the super active SA Vegan Society, who are constantly busy engaging with media and stakeholders. The raw food movement is gaining traction locally and we also have the wonderful Gaia Market to look forward to down in Cape Town, something that should fill every veggie’s heart with glee – a totally plant-based market.

But, let’s get back to The Vegetarian Kitchen.

The first thing that struck me about this book, is that the featured cover recipe contained ingredients that I actually had in my cupboard. According to Mellissa, “this book is an expedition into a world of delicious and pleasurable cooking, with ideas taken from all over the world and made in our very own South African way.” The recipes, which are superbly photographed, contain ingredients that are pretty easy to buy at your local supermarket and references local brands.

On the recipes

One thing I find about The Vegetarian Kitchen, is that all the recipes seem quite comforting and familiar. From pasta salads with red onions, carrots, cucumber, avo and lemon juice to potato bakes, mushroom pies, pecan gnocchi and tasty foccaccias and breads, to delicious desserts like apricot tarts, this is all food that I could easily imagine actually making, not just drooling over the pics. This isn’t to say that they’re bland or boring – the recipes are fresh, spicy and also scrumptious to look at.

I have to confess that I haven’t gotten very far in testing the recipes in this one… yet. But I did whip up some Mustard-glazed Veggies as a side. Super quick and simple, the recipe called for some steamed carrots, julienne beans, coriander to garnish with a tangy dressing made with olive oil, apple cider vingar, sugar and Dijon mustard. It took no time to make and was very yummy.

Mustard-glazed Veggies test

I will post more recipes from this book as I go along.

But that’s not all
Mellissa also offers up her Essential Store Cupboard guide – which sounds a lot like mine! From a South African perspective, she references brands that we will recognise, which is very helpful. Especially to newcomers to the plant-based way of life.

At the end of the book, she also provides some great home remedies like a soothing skin butter, nappy rash cream and bath salts.

All in all. Wow. Lovely book, beautifully photographed and filled with practical recipes that you will actually make in your own home.

Buy your own here, on Kalahari.netExclusives, CNA or at any good local bookstore.

WIN: If you’d like to win one of two copies of The Vegetarian Kitchen (R220.00), send an email to with The Vegetarian Kitchen in the subject line and be sure you have subscribed to our newsletter or liked our facebook page to stay up-to-date with more news and competitions. (Only open to South African readers). [Competition closed]

Take a look at a few pages below:

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.

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