First, let’s get this out of the way: I am a deer hunter and a carnivore.

Cover courtesy of Quadrille

Maybe Katy Beskow, author of “15 Minute Vegan on a Budget,” would shudder to find out that a passionate lover of steaks is also a fan of her new cookbook. But cooking is all about the art of improvisation, making someone else’s creations your own. And in this case, that means turning healthy vegan dishes into meat-eater’s delights.

That’s my philosophy, at least. So when my partner looked at my new cookbook and asked, “Where is the protein in those recipes?” I simply replied, “We will throw in some chicken or pork.”

This small, hardcover vegan cookbook actually may become my new all-time favorite. And Beskow could be my new food guru.

“15 Minute Vegan” caters to those looking to spend $15 or less on ingredients for a meal, rather than the $30 or $40 other cookbooks have forced me to spend. And to save even more money, the introduction offers several simple steps to reduce food waste. Beskow suggests not following the “use-by” dates as directives and making lists of the foods that could go bad soon so you use them before they do.

Her cookbook gives a crash course in using up excess ingredients in your kitchen. Lemon linguine and red-onion relish are meant specifically for the lemon and onions that have been languishing in your fridge. Beskow also notes when recipes are “suitable for freezing,” so you can keep leftovers for later.


And the title does not lie: Most of these dishes are quick to make, many requiring only five to 10 ingredients, rather than 15 to 20 like so many other cookbooks do. Moreover, “15 Minute Vegan” is loaded with healthy, flavorful dishes full of vegetables and beans.

We tried the Lebanese lentils, rice and caramelized onions, described as “simple, delicious, budget-friendly comfort food that will become a classic in your kitchen.” In our house that will prove true. Of the 13 ingredients, more than half were in the cupboard already. And the recipe took only a little more than 15 minutes to prepare. Mind you, I’m always slow on the first go at a recipe.

Spicy dishes are my favorite, and this full-of-flavor pilaf with a slight zing suited my tastes. Add a bit of free-range chicken, a hard-boiled egg or – vegans, forgive me – a bit of crumbled bacon, and it could end up in my lunchbox at work once a week.

New cookbooks frequently collect dust in our home, but I foresee this one becoming used and worn, so I’m glad it’s a hardcover edition. Next, I plan to try the spinach, chickpea and lemon pilaf, or the Middle Eastern harira, a rich-sounding soup of chickpeas, lentils, almonds, celery and passata, a spiced tomato puree, flavored with coriander, parsley, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon.

In the chapter on leftovers, I found fun versions of favorite go-to dishes, such as an easy-to-make five-spice fried rice and an Italian salsa verde, as well as salt-and-vinegar potato peel crisps and cajun-spiced potatoes. Beskow’s takes on these dishes seem simple and fun to make. And her instructions are forgiving of cooks who tend be distracted, clumsy or busy. For the harira, she assures, “There’s no need to blend this soup as the varying textures are delicious!”

Beskow, an award-winning cook from Yorkshire, England, has written two other cookbooks. In all of them, she advocates for “fuss-free, affordable home cooking.” But Beskow doesn’t just write about this approach. It’s how she operates her own kitchen.


Lebanese lentils, rice and caramelized onions

Serves 4

180 grams (6 ounces) basmati rice

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

3 large red onions, peeled and finely sliced

2 teaspoons soft brown sugar


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder

400 grams (14 ounces) can green lentils, drained and rinsed

Small handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


2 tablespoons unsweetened soya yogurt

Juice of 1/4 unwaxed lemon

Generous pinch of sea salt flakes

In a large saucepan, add the basmati rice and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the rice appears fluffy, then set aside.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat and cook the onions for five minutes, then add the brown sugar and cook for a further five minutes until caramelized, stirring frequently.

Add the cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and chili powder to the onions, then cook for a further minute.

Tip the spiced onions and any remaining oil into the rice, along with the lentils. Return to the heat and stir through for one minute.

Scatter over the parsley and divide into warmed bowls. Spoon on the soya yoghurt, squeeze over the lemon juice and season with sea salt.

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