First let me apologize for the poor lighting in all these pictures. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel and my kitchen space is just a small room in our garage apartment. With that being said, the food, however not so photogenic, was amazingly delicious.
Bad lighting aside, I had so much fun reviewing this cookbook by Ashley Melillo. For it being her first cookbook, I have to say she (and BenBella Publishers) totally rocked it with some awesome recipes, photo’s, and plant-based nutritional information.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Plant-based eating is still somewhat new to a lot of people. Finding information and how to cook this way can be confusing. So, being able to open a cookbook like Blissful Basil and learn about the hows and why’s of eating healthy is a huge bonus.
Right from the beginning, Ashley covers all the basics. In the section A Blissful Kitchen – Pantry Roots + Essential Equipment, Ashley covers things like what ingredients to stock up, what spices should be in your spice rack, and even what type of kitchen gear you should have on hand.
She encourages the reader to have a plan. Saying that being prepared allows you to “prepare to conquer these recipes.”
The Important Part – The Recipes
Packed with over 100 plant-powered recipes, Blissful Basil does not disappoint when it comes to good eats. From Breakfast + Brunch to Sophisticated Sweets + Simple Treats, this cookbook is filled with new, creative dishes that any plant lover will be happy to fix.
No crazy ingredients or difficult instructions either. Each recipe has simple to follow instructions and uses ingredients, that once you plan and prepare, will be extremely easy to fix.
If You’re Going to Go For It… Then Really Go For It
I can honestly say that I have only cooked Polenta one other time before I decided to try Ashley’s Comforting BBQ Pulled Hearts of Palm, Crispy Kale and Parmesan Polenta. If it wasn’t for the huge bunch of farm fresh kale I found at the local farmers market, I may have never even tried again.
I did buy the kale though and when searching for a recipe to try, the pulled BBQ Hearts of Palm caught my eye. I used to put palm hearts on my salads all the time, but never thought of cooking them, let alone pulling them apart to make a vegan BBQ. This I had to try.
The recipe was actually really easy to make. Although it had a few steps and took a little bit of timing, Ashley did a great job of including instructions like.. “while this is cooking, start this..”, which was very helpful.
Cooking in a Small Space, But Making it Work
Cooking in a very small room with no real counter-top and no stove is quite the challenge. Yet, with a little creativity, a hot plate, a small toaster oven, and a piece of plywood.. it was doable.
I was able to put together this three part recipe and have it actually taste amazing in the end.
I LOVED the BBQ palm hearts over the Polenta. WOW! I am seriously going to make that again. And the Crispy Kale?Well even though I had to make it in small batches, it still worked and was a great side addition to the meal.
This dish was a big hit with the hubster too. By the end of the meal, there were NO leftovers. And that’s what I call a plant-based success!
Another Great One to Add to the Collection
If you’re starting out 2017 on a more healthier note or just looking for a new cookbook to add to your collection, I would highly suggest checking out Ashley Melillo’s Blissful Basil. You’ll be deliciously happy you did.
Comforting BBQ Pulled Hearts of Palm, Crispy Kale + Parmesan Polenta
(via Blissful Basil by Ashley Melillo)
Comforting BBQ Pulled Hearts of Palm
3/4 cup 10 Minute Sweet + Tangy BBQ Sauce (page 300) or BBQ sauce of choice
1/2 cup filtered water
1 (14.5 ounce) can of hearts of palm, drained
1 bunch of curly kale, washed, stemmed, torn into large pieces, and patted dry
1/2 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt, more if needed
1 cup uncooked polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1/4 cup Nu/Seed Parmesan Cheese (page 299)
For the Comforting BBQ Pulled Hearts of Palm
In a large saute pan, whisk together the BBQ suace and water. Add the hearts of palm and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the hearts of palm are tender, stirring occasionally.
Use two forks to throughly pull apart and shred the hearts of palm. Continue to simmer with the lid off for another 5 minutes, or until most of the sauce has been absorbed, stirring frequently.
For the Crisp Kale
While the hearts of palm are simmering, preheat the oven to 350′ F and line two large baking trays with parchment paper.
Divide the kale between the lined baking trays and drizzle with olive oil. Gently massage the oil into the kale and spread the leaves out in a single layer across each pan.
Roast for 15 minutes, or until crisp. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
For the Parmesan Polenta
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water and sea salt to a rolling boil.
Slowly add the polenta while whisking continuously. Be careful not to add too much at once or you’ll end up with lumpy polenta. Continue to whisk until smooth. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender, whisking frequently.
Turn off the heat and whisk in the Nut/Seed Parmesan Cheese. Taste and season with more sea salt, if desired.
Spoon the polenta into the bowls. Top with BBQ pulled hearts of palm and kale. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers.
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Thank you to Blissfull Basil and BenBella Publishing for the review copy. All thoughts and opinions are 100% all mine.