If you are looking for the perfect book to put you in an Italian state of mind that gradually eases you into making flavorful plant-based dishes with ease, than Alternative Vegan is the perfect book for you. The book is filled with colorful Italian recipes with a modern day twist that will satisfy any vegan or flexitarians appetite. Alternative Vegan, contains many scrumptious vegan options that are easy to make with simple ingredients that can be easily found at your local farmers market or grocery store. The best part is that most of the recipes can be done in under 30 minutes.
For me this book was an essential resource. I had been trying for years to convince my mother to adhere to a more plant-based diet. Although, I prefer her to be vegan such as myself, it was only after a major health scare and dealing with super high cholesterol for years that she agreed the best way for her to stick to a plant-based diet was to do it gradually and start as a pescetarian since smoked salmon is her kryptonite.
Alternative Vegan was a lifesaver. The book provided her with lots of options, she never felt like she was sacrificing anything. After two months I am happy to say that my mother is gravitating toward eating more vegan food and lost the desire to eat foods containing a animal ingredients.
One of my favorite recipes from Alternative Vegan is the “One-Pan Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts” which is based on the classic Italian recipe “Spaghetti alla puttanesca” which means “spaghetti in the style of a whore” in Italian and dates back to mid-20th century Naples. The only difference is the original recipe contains anchovies and Alternative Vegan uses Brussel Sprouts instead.
I was so impressed with the flavor of this recipe it was a pleasure to ask Marie Reginato who is the author of Alternative Vegan what inspired her book and her recipes.
I come from an Italian family filled with fishermen, butchers, and home cooks, yet cooking never appealed to me. Instead, I did what many teenage girls did: ate Twinkies for breakfast and bagels for lunch. It wasn’t until I left to study agricultural business at university where my curiosity for food grew. Then I took it a step further, left for a year in Italy, and met a local family who shifted my entire perspective of food—enter the world of fresh delectable food.
Before I wrote this book, some of the most common remarks I’d hear from friends and family sounded a lot like this: “You know I could never go strictly vegan, but I still want to eat healthy”. Or better yet: “I’m vegan but I still eat fish when I go out to dinner.” Yes, we are all looking for healthier alternatives, but I just found it interesting that most people felt that healthy eating is an all or nothing choice—to be vegan or not to be.
Alternative Vegan is about shattering that notion. A “one size fits all” approach to food and diet simply does not work. We all have different desires and taste buds. The recipes that I love to create give you the wiggle room to stick to a healthy lifestyle long term. It makes plant-based cooking more appealing by incorporating seafood and eggs whenever you’d like.
The recipes in this book focus on removing the hard lines surrounding diets in our society. If you’re looking to ease your way into a plant-based diet that’s approachable, yet always rooted in health, this book is for you.
One-Pan Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Serves 3–4 / V, GF
For the brussels sprouts
10 Brussels sprouts, sliced in half
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
For the pasta
½ pound (230 g) pasta shape of your choice
1 (14-oz [400-g]) can tomato sauce
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, divided
Zest of 1 small lemon
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Pinch of chili flakes
1½ tbsp (15 g) capers
2 handfuls of kalamata olives, sliced in half
2 cups (475 ml) boiling water
3 cups (200 g) kale leaves, stems removed
Handful of fresh basil
Pinch of sea salt, for topping
Start by roasting the Brussels sprouts. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and line a baking sheet. Place the chopped Brussels sprouts on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Pop into the oven and cook for 35 minutes, or until the sprouts are golden and crispy.
About halfway through cooking the Brussels sprouts, start preparing the pasta. In a large sauté pan, add every ingredient for the pasta (including the boiled water), except the kale leaves and basil, and bring to a boil on high heat. Cover with a lid and stir often so that the pasta doesnǯt stick together. After about 5 minutes of cooking, lower the heat to medium and stir in the kale and basil, and continue cooking until the pasta is cooked through and has absorbed enough liquid.
Top the finished pasta with the crispy Brussels sprouts, an extra drizzle of olive oil and pinch of sea salt.
Tip: Choose brown rice pasta for a gluten-free option.