Ever since I began reviewing cookbooks mail day has become a wild card — you can never be sure what surprise might be waiting for you down at the community post box or arriving at the front door. One afternoon while my daughter was playing with her toys, she spotted the delivery truck pulling up to the house. “MOM! A TRUCK IS HEEEERE!” I dashed to the door and retrieved a parcel. My daughter always crosses her fingers that the package will be for her and is a bit disappointed when it’s not. But when I opened the box there nestled inside was a copy of David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl’s newest book Little Green Kitchen. Immediately my daughter picks up the book and proclaims: “Hey! There are kids on this book, it must be for me!” I could only smile — cookbooks are joy-creators!
What does a vegetarian family eat? This is a good question — one that I’ve heard many, many times. I can totally understand where people’s curiosity comes from — I wasn’t always a vegetarian! Like most families (vegetarian or not), we’re all just trying to figure it out. This is where a book like Little Green Kitchen comes in — full of vegetarian recipes plucked from the real family-life experiences of Frenkiel and Vindahl, it offers a useful guide to anyone who’s cooking for and with a family. So, instead of sitting down with the new cookbook to see what I’d like to make for my review, I had K sit down with me, armed with thin plain-paper bookmarks, so that she could take “her book” and choose what we could make together.
The first recipe to catch her eye was the Dino Burgers and, how could it not? The image accompanying the recipe has a plastic toy dinosaur looking like he’s about to take a bite out of a green burger (or, at least this is how K saw it). Coincidentally this was the first recipe I decided to make. These patties are exquisite. Probably one of the best veggie burgers I’ve made! We love the green colour (spinach, frozen peas, basil) and the nuttiness which the quinoa provides. The basil gives the burger such flavour, but you know what the secret is? It’s the unbelievable burger dressing (mayo, capers, and ketchup) which makes this recipe so good. As with all the recipes in the book, including this one, the authors give “A Helping Hand” tip for ways in which kids can help with the recipes. For the Dino Burgers, kids can help form the burger patties and slice up all the fixings that will adorn the burg. My daughter loves being a hand model for my food pictures and, normally the pictures are very static but in the case of these burgers once she got to “decorating” her burger I just tried to snap the action as it happened. And, you know what? Since she was so invested in the process from start to finish, she ate that burger with the most content look on her face!
What can I tell you about the recipes? I’ve made 15 and I’m certain that I could cook through this book and not find a single bad recipe. Their recipe for Tofu Cashew Masala is so good that I think it’s edged out our number one favourite tofu recipe: Crispy Broccoli and Tofu w/ Peanut Pesto from the Smitten Kitchen Every Day (sorry Deb!). What the good folks at the Green Kitchen have done is to put their own spin on Indian paneer butter masala. Instead of paneer, you use cubes of tofu! Delicious and saucy — it gets extra points because it’s served on rice (my husband and daughter’s favourite). It’s also very easy to make, so I could, literally, make it every day if they asked.
This is the beauty of Little Green Kitchen — vegetable-forward, minimal amount of ingredients, and recipes that yield the most delicious meals! What I can appreciate is how the book recognizes that there can be some differences between a kid’s plate and an adult’s plate so Frenkiel and Vindahl provide “Adult Upgrade” tips so that if you want to be more adventurous with your plate, in terms of flavour and texture, then there are add-ons. When we made the Rainbow Pancakes (the carrot version: the carrot gets blended into the batter thus creating a lovely orange-ish coloured crepe-like pancake), we filled them with shredded carrot and feta with a squeeze of lemon (the kid version uses cottage cheese and the “adult upgrade” version has crumbled feta, sauerkraut, and a basil and kale salad with a lemon vinaigrette). While my daughter liked the savory version well enough, what she couldn’t get enough of is one of these carrot pancakes filled with almond butter and jam. A version of this pancake recipe can be found in their last book Green Kitchen at Home and, it was so popular with their kids and the people cooking from that book that they’ve included it here. I love Green Kitchen at Home and this is one of the recipes I’ve cooked again and again for my daughter. When you find a recipe your kid loves, you keep it on the meal rotation!
They’ve organized the recipes into 6 chapters: Everyday Meals, Party Food, Lunchbox Favourites, Snacks + Drinks, Condiments + Upgrades, and Baking + Sweets. Some of you may be wondering how Little Green Kitchen differs from Green Kitchen at Home? When I first heard that Frenkiel and Vindahl’s next book would focus on cooking for kids, I was a bit surprised because I felt that Green Kitchen at Home was about this topic. While containing the same colourful, interesting, and inspired recipes that I’ve come to appreciate from the Green Kitchen Stories this book offers a more simplified approach with a real focus on what their kids (and kids in general) enjoy eating. I know that sometimes I struggle with those “everyday meals” and what they’re offering here are recipes to suit this need. The recipe for Halloumi Souvlaki Pitta Pockets w/ Tzatziki is one of the quickest recipes to make and, it’s given me another useful way to cook halloumi (one of my daughter’s favourite things).
As I’ve cooked through this book, I’ve come to realize that vegetarian cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Little Green Kitchen is the perfect recipe playbook for my vegetarian family but, if you or your family isn’t vegetarian this book can still offer delicious food and tons of inspiration (there’s also no reason why you can’t sub in meat into some of the recipes). If you’re curious as to what we’ve been making and enjoying, then visit my dedicated Facebook post or my custom Instagram hashtag #theeatworthylittlegreenkitchen.
As a kind of postscript to this review, I want to mention that I’m a HUGE fan of the Green Kitchen Stories and their cookbooks. Little Green Kitchen is the fifth cookbook Frenkiel and Vindahl have written and, while I love their other books, I think this is my favourite! If you’re curious about my thoughts on some of their other books here are some links to other reviews I’ve written: Green Kitchen Stories, Green Kitchen Smoothies, and Green Kitchen at Home. Frenkiel and Vindahl are the most reviewed authors on my website and, for good reason! I find their approach to vegetarian cooking inspired and delicious — their recipes are well-tested, and I’ve never made anything from their books or site that didn’t turn out. Thanks for stopping by to read my reviews! My sincerest hope is that you find as much joy in home cooking as I do!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hardie Grant Books and Raincoast Books for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.