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Vegan Al Fresco, Carla Kelly (2014)

Vegan Al Fresco by Carla A. Kelly - review by

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Are you tired of your old standby dishes for picnics and other outdoor gatherings?  Have you run out of creative dishes for outdoor dining?  Does the calendar show that there are still at least 2 more months for these outdoor events?  If you answered “Yes!” to any of these questions then this is the book for you!

Carla Kelly hails from Australia originally and that may account for her unique perspective on dishes for picnics, barbecues and outdoor dining.  Her creativity provides a breath of fresh air in what may have been a hot or very wet summer so far in many areas.  Kelly is cognizant of food allergies being an issue for some and thus marks her recipes with codes for gluten, soy and nuts as well as providing pages in the appendices listing recipes containing these allergens.  The appendices also include a section on special ingredients, explaining what the ingredients are, how they are used, where to find them, and alternatives when available.  An additional appendix includes theme menus for picnics and barbecues.

Recipes that we tried included: Peanut Rice Noodle Salad, Smoky Soba Noodle Salad, Mango and Orange Tempeh with Ginger, and Grilled Zucchini Sticks.  Although many recipes advised to grill the main ingredient, we found success with baking them.  Remember that many of these recipes will be delightful eaten inside as well!

Below is a recipe from Vegan Al Fresco that you will surely enjoy.  Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you; it goes together easily.

Justina Walls (7/31/2014)

Peanut Rice Noodle Salad – Vegan al Fresco p 136 –  Makes 4-6 servings

(Allergens:  nuts, soy)  Note: replace the soy sauce with Bragg Liquid Aminos and this dish will be soy free.

  • 4 oz. (115 g) medium-width rice noodles, broken in half
  • 1 T peanut oil
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 T Thai sweet chili sauce (start with 1 tsp. if you are sensitive to spice-heat)
  • 1 T smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • ½-1 tsp. Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce, to taste (left this out because of heat sensitivities)
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (250 ml) mung bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped spring onions (also called scallions and/or green onions)
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped green bell peppers
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) roasted salted peanuts
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) roasted salted peanuts, to garnish
  • 4-6 lime wedges

Prepare noodles according to package directions.

Cool under running water.

In a large bowl, whisk  together oil, lime juice, chili sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, hot sauce, garlic and sugar until combined well.

Add bean sprouts, spring onions, bell peppers, carrots and peanuts and toss to coat.

Add cooked noodles and toss well.

Chill for at least 1 hour.

Bring to room temperature before serving.

Garnish with peanuts and serve with lime wedges