When I first heard that Laura Wright was writing a cookbook about two years ago, I began a very impatient wait for a book that I knew would become very important to me, as well as a staple in my kitchen. Now that the wait is finally over, I truly haven’t been able to stop cooking from this masterpiece of a book, and it has exceeded all of my very high expectations. Every time I set out to read Laura’s blog, The First Mess, I know that I will be walking away with a smile, as well as inspired to cook something bright, comforting and nourishing to the core. Laura’s writing style is so uniquely heartwarming and honest, like being in a conversation with a dear old friend, and that tone is very much echoed in the very well-considered, homey recipes and beautiful photography in The First Mess cookbook. All of the recipes in the book are vegan and whole food/vegetable/fruit-forward, but more importantly, they are delicious, unique yet somehow familiar, considerate of time, and made with accessible ingredients. The book is for absolutely everyone, whether vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, health-conscious or not, and it will get you excited to cook. This all-inclusiveness and approachability is so hard to achieve with a plant-based cookbook, but that is Laura’s genius.
Ever since receiving my copy a few weeks ago, I’ve been floating on a cloud of cooking inspiration, and I’ve already made the French Onion Lentil Pots, Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls, Mustard-Roasted Broccoli Paté, Lazy Steel Cut Oatmeal, Fudgy Nut and Seed Butter Brownies (twice), plus the two recipes in this post, all to insanely good results. I chose to feature the Moroccan Stew recipe here, since I think it really captures the essence of Laura’s cooking. The stew comes together quickly, with pantry and grocery store staples, yet it tastes completely new and luxurious. Plus, it’s a great recipe to make during this seasonal produce limbo that we are in right now. Of course, I couldn’t choose just one recipe to post, so I made the Sunshine Everything Crackers to snack on as well. They are so addictive! As well as gluten-free, colored golden with turmeric, and they taste like better, healthier cheez-its/goldfish crackers. We plowed through them in a few days, and they made for an excellent lunchbox snack for the kid, too.
The First Mess cookbook comes out on March 7th, but you can preorder it now to save a few bucks and to receive the delicious-looking bonus recipe bundle that Laura created for preorder customers.
G I V E A W A Y // We are giving away one copy of The First Mess cookbook. To enter, leave a comment here telling us about your go-to recipe for this transitional time of year, or your favorite recipe from The First Mess blog until next Wednesday, March 8th, 2017. Giveaway is for U.S. and Canada only.
Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright.
Sunshine Everything Crackers
Serves: about 60 1-inch (2.5 cm) crackers
- 1 cup (250 ml) chickpea flour
- 1 cup (250 ml) gluten-free oat flour
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sunflower oil (I used neutral coconut oil)
- ¼ cup filtered water, plus extra if necessary
- ¼ cup mixed raw seeds (I used flax, hemp, sesame)
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chickpea flour, oat flour, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic powder, ground turmeric, cayenne pepper, if using, and oil. Pulse the machine to get everything lightly mixed. Mix on high until you have a wet and uniform crumbly mixture.
- With the food processor on low, slowly pour the filtered water through the feed tube of the food processor. The cracker dough should start to form a large ball. If the ball isn’t forming, add more water by the teaspoon through the feed tube.
- Open the lid of the food processor and add the mixed seeds. Pulse the dough a couple of times to distribute the seeds.
- Lay a sheet of parchment paper, about the size of a large baking sheet, on the counter. Dump the cracker dough onto the parchment and flatten it a bit with your hands. Lay another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough.
- With a rolling pin, evenly roll the cracker dough out to roughly an ⅛ inch (3mm) thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Carefully transfer the parchment with the rolled-out cracker dough to a large baking sheet.
- With a knife, score the cracker dough into a gird, forming 1-inch (2.5 cm) square crackers. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake until the edges of the crackers have browned slightly, about 20 minutes. Let the crackers cool completely before storing in a sealed container. The crackers will keep for about 5 days.
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion – small dice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic – minced
- 3 to 4 Medjool dates – pitted and chopped
- 2 carrots – chopped into ½-inch (1 cm) pieces
- 1 large sweet potato – peeled and chopped into ½-inch (1 cm) pieces
- salt and pepper – to taste
- 1 can (28 ounces/769 ml) crushed tomatoes
- 3 to 4 cups (750 ml to 1 L) vegetable stock
- 1 yellow bell pepper – stemmed and chopped into ½-inch (1 cm pieces)
- 2 cups (500 ml) cooked chickpeas
- pitted green olives
- lemon wedges
- cooked brown rice, millet or couscous
- Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and immediately lower the heat until they are sizzling quietly. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and chili flakes, if using. Slowly sauté and stir the spiced onion mixture until the onions are quite soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped dates, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables in the spices and oil. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir. Add 3 cups (750 ml) of the vegetable stock.
- Bring to a boil uncovered, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the yellow bell pepper and chickpeas and stir. Season the whole thing again with salt and pepper. If the stew seems too thick, add the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) of vegetable stock.
- Simmer until the yellow bell peppers are tender and the sweet potatoes are quite soft, about 5 minutes. Check the soup for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve the stew hot with a few green olives per portion, lemon wedges and warm cooked grain.