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The Great Vegan Bean Book, Kathy Hester (Fair Winds Press, 2013)

The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester - reviewed by

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We all know that beans (and all legumes) are packed with nutrients, low fat, high in fiber, and good for us in every way – and yet most of us eat them sporadically and infrequently. The Great Vegan Bean Book is likely to change that! It is packed with recipes in all the “traditional” categories for a cookbook – yes, even desserts, baked goods, waffles, as well as sandwiches, stews, and many other dishes. There are recipes that feature beans, recipes that hide beans, recipes to expand your thinking on using beans. This is really a practical, useful book that produces terrific results!

Hester offers many options with her recipes. For instance, most every recipe will offer “Fancy Bean Substitutes”, and ways of making that particular recipe oil free, and often soy free or gluten free. For those uncomfortable with cooking, these suggestions are very helpful. Will experienced cooks be bored? Not in the least! We’ve already tried White Bean Pecan Pate (and it got raves at a party), Pumpkin White Bean Chowder (raves from friends – remember to add chard or kale), Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce (over pasta), Eggplant White Bean Pasta Sauce (over pasta), Stove Top Mac ‘n Beany (great reviews from friends who do not like “mac and cheese” as well as those who love it).

Hester offers heirloom beans (and where to find them) for those wanting to try something beyond the standard beans used by most of us. She also offers basics in the first chapter that allow the cook to save money by making their own basic items such as bouillon (and she does not advise throwing out the veggies, something I appreciated), salsa, sour cream, seitan patties, chorizo crumbles, sausage patties, and more. Of course, you can also buy these pre-made. Her recipes give measurements for options either way, including starting with dried beans, or using canned beans. No judgments, just lots of options. The recipes are generally easy and fairly quick, and the results are great! This is an excellent book on every level. I highly recommend it! 

Justina Walls