When you hold a copy of Plum in your hands for the first time, you’ll quickly understand why I call it inspiring. The beautiful photo on the front cover tells a story of people sharing a delicious vegan meal. A veg and pesto-topped pizza with a slice pulled just slightly out draws your attention. Two ruby-coloured drinks and a lively beet and orange salad accompany the meal, conjuring feelings of warmth and invitation.
I’ve never been to Plum Bistro, the popular Seattle hotspot, but I gather from the reviews that I should find a way to get there soon. The book is based on the restaurant’s menu and came about “through popular demand” from customers asking time and again how they did it. Well, Makini Howell shows you how in this book. Its tagline, “Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro” exactly encapsulates what Plum offers. The recipes are all plant-based and very fulfilling.
The book is grouped into 9 sections: Fundamentals, where she shows you how to make vegan whipped creams (sweet and savoury), crème fraîche, and egg foam, among other things. And then there are chapters like Beginnings which takes you through breakfast (Fig Crêpes with Ricotta, Arugula, and Agave Balsamic, anyone?), Tofu, Tempeh, & Seitan, Small Plates, and Transitional Raw, to name a few. The recipes, many of which are beautifully captured with photos, range from easy to difficult, offering something for a cook who wants to learn or for someone who likes options when it comes to the effort required in a given day.
I’ve already made the savoury soy cream which is used like a mayo or aioli (I added herbs and salt), the jerk tofu and roasted yam sliders with pickled purple cabbage, and now this Fresh Tofu and Orange Salad. Not only is this dish delicious (they all were), but it literally takes about 10 minutes to make. That’s 10 minutes from the start of prep until I was sitting down to eat. It was this simplicity of the dish that drew me to it. It’s a chop and toss kind of meal. Its ease and Mediterranean-inspired flavours make it a really satisfying dish to prepare. The recipe says it serves 4, but I’m assuming she meant 4 as a starter because it doesn’t make a large amount for a full meal. Since I ate mine for dinner, I served it over quinoa with avocado on the side. (It’s summer, I eat avocados all day long, people.) But I also took some for lunch and it kept pretty well over night in the fridge. The truly great thing about this dish is that you could make it in the morning just before heading out for your day and have a freshly made lunch to eat a few hours later. It’s that quick!
While you’re gathering the ingredients for this dish, let me assure you that this book has much more to offer. I’ve already dog-eared the the blue corn pizza with pesto-grilled heirloom tomatoes and ricotta, the spicy peach tofu and tempeh with charred purple beans, the balsamic tofu with white bean sauce and agave pumpkin, the chai-spiced yam bruschetta with crunchy kale, and of course the fresh spinach pasta since I now have a pasta maker(!!). Fall isn’t looking so bad, after all.
But the best part about all of this is that one lucky reader is going to get a copy of this gorgeous book.
All you have to do is enter below. I’m sorry to say that because of export rights with books, this contest is only for Canadian residents. Sorry international friends. Another time, I hope! The contest is now over. Congratulations to Shannon Stasyk for being the winner of this gorgeous book!
- 8 ounces firm tofu (organic, non-GMO), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium orange (Makini suggests blood orange for its visual appeal), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick half moons
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp coriander
- In a large bowl, season the tofu cubes with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the orange, cilantro, onion, mint, oil, lemon juice, and coriander, and toss well.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately.