The more I think that I should favor vegan, whole foods over processed foods, the more I realize that I need to cook more, embrace legumes for their plant protein, and vary my repertoire of legume dishes. As such, peanuts roasted in their shells are delicious snacks that shouldn’t be reserved for ballgames only. Lentils are a category of food, not a singular variety; yellow, red, brown, and green lentils can be used to make different dishes. Beans are even more varied, and the choice of “black or pinto” at your local burrito bar isn’t representative of the breadth of options that cooks have in the grocery store or kitchen. As part of my efforts to understand legumes better and grow my recipe repertoire, I recently checked out The Bean Bible: A Legumaniac’s Guide to Lentils, Peas, and Every Edible Bean on the Planet!from the library. In the preface to this half-compendium, half-cookbook, author Aliza Green traces her relationship with beans back to the cholent of her childhood. She recalls loathing her mother’s staple winter dish for Shabbat afternoons, and she notes that she has since “developed a broad and imaginative base of legume recipes.” I couldn’t help but think, “If I still ran a Jewish-vegan blog, I would want to interview her!” As it turns out, the book is anything but a poster-child for Jewish veganism. The following three inclusions in the recipe section shocked me the most:
- French Lentil and Foie Gras–Stuffed Won Ton Ravioli With Tomato and Truffle Oil: As I’ve noted countless times before, foie gras is gourmet cruelty!
- Roasted Pigeons With Fresh Fava Beans: Considering all the talk about pigeon peas earlier in the book, I was not expecting a recipe calling for “whole young pigeons” (i.e., birds).
- French Green Lentil Salad With Bacon and Tomato: Even though this recipe appeared opposite a page with a “VEGETARIAN” header, I was wrong to assume that the whole chapter was vegetarian.
I do not particularly recommend The Bean Biblefor the kosher or vegetarian kitchen. That being said, I do look forward to veganizing the Bean and Hazelnut Cake (sans clams).
— Michael Croland