I f*%#ing love vegetables! That, coupled with my addiction to Sriracha, is what ultimately led to the writing of this book. And while I am a firm believer in the righteous virtues of vegetarianism and veganism—of which, there are many—that isn’t the focus here. This book isn’t about labels; it’s not just for vegans or vegetarians. It’s for anyone who’s incurably passionate about the splendiferous flavors to be had straight from the ground, for anyone who’s picked up an eggplant or fennel bulb at the market and dreamed of the possibilities.
I’ve noticed that over the past decade, cooking and cooking instruction have become decidedly meat-centric, resulting in many home cooks forgetting—or, worse yet, never being taught—how to properly prepare and celebrate the glorious bounty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes that we’re fortunate enough to have at our fingertips.
This problem is only compounded when people wrongfully believe that cooking without meat means replacing it with strange, texturized, overly processed soy-based products that have been extruded into shapes vaguely resembling meat, before being breaded and fried. Ugh. You wanna know the truth? I can’t stand most of that garbage. It’s generally pretty awful tasting, and it usually has very little to do with healthy, fresh ingredients.
And while I’ve certainly got a place in my kitchen for tempeh and tofu, I don’t like my meals to revolve around them. True, you’ll find them used within these pages, but only when I feel they can contribute something to the flavor and texture of my beloved veggies, right at the center of my plate.
If you love vegetables too, and a nice spicy kick to boot, let me be the first to congratulate you. You’ve found the right book. If you’ve had good vegetables at a friend’s house or while dining out but aren’t sure how to cook them properly at home, sweet! You’ve found the right book. And if you don’t like vegetables, I’m willing to bet it’s because you’ve only had them either overcooked or undercooked your entire life, in which case, you’ve finally found the right book!
Whatever your reasons for giving my cool little book a shot—health, ethical, environmental, economic, a devotion to anything and everything Sriracha-related, or simply curiosity—use these recipes with an open mind. Love them for all that they are, and for all that they aren’t. You’ll be glad you did!
--------------------------------------------------------------------- Mouth on Fire Minestrone
Minestrone is a wonderful rustic Italian soup that doesn’t really have a prescribed recipe because it was traditionally made with whatever vegetables were available, and made thicker and heartier with beans and pasta. I beg you to use this version, which couldn’t be easier, as a starting point for your own imaginative creations based on whatever vegetables are fresh and in season at your market. Makes 4 to 6 servings
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup Sriracha
6 Roma tomatoes, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 red onion, diced
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, or 11/2 teaspoons dried
1-3/4 cups cooked cannellini beans, or 1 (15-ounce) can, undrained
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the stock, Sriracha, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, garlic, bay leaves, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in the beans and kale and cook until both are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Stored in the refrigerator, leftovers will keep for 1 week.
Excerpted from The Veggie-Lover's Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens. Copyright © 2013 by Randy Clemens. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.