FTC Disclosure: I have partnered with Workman Publishing for this review.
Until this year, my cooking range has been, shall we say…limited. I was notorious for living off of candy, sliced cheese, and cereal. In fact, when I moved away from Minnesota this summer, my grandma sent me with two grocery bags of non-perishable food items because she “heard I only eat cereal”. Upon arrival in my new home in New Hampshire, I got a job at a kitchen store. I fumbled my way through the interview, emphasizing my extensive retail experience while giving a sugary “well, I LOVE to watch Food Network…” (which is true) when it came time to ask about my experience with cooking. I’ve been working at the kitchen store for about 4 months now, and I’ve completely surprised myself. I love to cook! I even cooked a multi-course french meal entirely from scratch recently! So when an opportunity came about to review Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless by Raquel Pelzel, I jumped on it. (And you should stick around to the end of the article, because you’ll get a chance for a free copy, too!)
A few things about this book piqued my interest right away: I love to eat meatless because it makes me feel good and it’s generally more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The food photography is gorgeous, my only complaint being that there aren’t photos for every recipe (there are for most, I’m just being exceptionally needy). Beyond that, this book promises that for most of its recipes, the only equipment required is a sharp knife and a sheet pan. That’s right. Just the sheet pan. My hopes were high when I received the book in the mail, and I was not disappointed. This cookbook has already become a go-to for me for a number of reasons.
First of all, Pelzel gives you all the information you need to cook these recipes even as a complete cooking novice. She gives tips on purchasing the right sheet pan for the job. The instructions in each recipe are clear, detailed, and easy to follow. She even sprinkles helpful tips throughout the book like how to pick the perfect cheese and ideas for how to turn leftover breakfast pastries into scrumptious desserts. The book is a goldmine of cooking information that can be applied to any recipe, not just the ones included in this book.
Another reason this cookbook was a quick favorite for me was all the customization that was encouraged. This book gets major points for versatility. Pelzel points out that the portions are easily customizable: just adjust ingredient quantities and sheet pan size. Not only that, but experimenting with the recipes is encouraged. There are many points throughout the book where Pelzel gives tips on substitution, whether for dietary reasons or simply because you’d like to change things up. She gives great ideas on more “exotic” herbs and spices you can use to replace the ones in your constant rotation, which I loved.
The book hits a great balance between using ingredients that are easily and affordably available and ingredients that you may have never used before (powdered sumac, tempeh, and cashew cream come to mind). That being said, none of the ingredients required for the recipes in this book ever edge into being completely unaffordable or inaccessible. There are also recipes to suit a variety of dietary needs. While the entire book is obviously vegetarian, about half the recipes are vegan and about half are gluten free, both of which are marked clearly. A coworker who is diabetic did, however, note that she wished nutritional info was included for each recipe, which I think is a valid point for those watching what they eat for any number of health reasons.
As for the recipes themselves, I’ve had the chance to make two so far: the “Forbidden Rice Bowl with Beets and Goat Cheese-Dill Vinaigrette” and the “Spinach, Roasted Root ‘Petals,’ Pistachios, and Honey Vinaigrette” (a salad). I was able to find most of the ingredients for these recipes at my normal grocery store, with the exception of the black rice. I substituted basmati, which worked out just fine thanks to the helpful table she provides with rice to water ratios and cooking times for 7 different types of rice/grains in a sheet pan. Cooking rice in a sheet pan together with my roasted vegetables was a game changer for me. I’m already excited to see what other types of rice bowls I can come up with using this method that dirties only ONE pan.
I was also able to get all the ingredients I needed for both these recipes for around $25, and they made great leftovers, feeding me for about 6 meals altogether. That’s a huge bonus. I followed the instructions as carefully as my willful and prone to “go my own way” self would allow, and they came out great. I tweaked a few things, roasting a bit longer here, adding some garam masala seasoning there, but I didn’t feel guilty because the whole vibe of this book seemed to be BEGGING me to do so.
This book doesn’t feel staunch or limiting. On every page it seems that Pelzel is encouraging the reader to have fun with their cooking, make changes to adapt to you or your family’s tastes, and just generally not take your kitchen too seriously, which I can really appreciate. I think that energy is what will keep me coming back to this book again and again. In fact, I picked up my first CSA box yesterday, HEAPED with fall and winter veggies and I’ve already bookmarked “Barbecued Tempeh and Roasted Potato Salad”, “Spiced Carrot Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing”, and “Creamy Carrot Polenta with Winter Squash Ragu” to use up some of my harvest. I can’t wait! I’m so happy to have received this book, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a way to easily eat meatless, eat affordably, cooking novices and experts alike, and to people who hate doing the dishes as much as I do. The book can be purchased at the official site here, or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, and IndieBound.
You can enter to win a free copy of #SheetPanSuppersMeatless and a Zwilling Pro vegetable knife (we sell these knives at work, and trust: they are good) thanks to our partner @workmanpub! Enter to win by liking, sharing, or commenting (I want to hear your favorite meatless recipes!) on this post on Facebook. Open to US contestants only. Winner will be notified November 10.