Last week, a welcome package arrived at my doorstep; the Blissful Basil cookbook. As a longtime admirer of the blog, I couldn’t wait to see what delicious vegan recipes were in store from the book.
I discovered Ashley Melillo’s blog, Blissful Basil, a few years ago and quickly became a frequent patron. I would always eagerly try any new recipes that caught my eye. From soft and chewy peanut butter cookies to gooey homemade Twix bars, her recipes never let me down.
So when Ashley announced she would be releasing a cookbook, I knew I had to add the book to my beloved collection of vegan cookbooks. Much to my delight, I was lucky enough to be included in the Blissful Basil cookbook tour and quickly signed up for an early posting date. I knew I would want to get started with cooking my way through the book ASAP!
Photo credit: Ashley Melillo
Upon its highly anticipated arrival, I quickly skimmed through mentally noting which recipes I would need to try. One of the first things that caught my eye while skimming, is the quality of the photos. I simply love the food photography in the Blissful Basil cookbook, the citrus salad pictured above is an example of Ashley’s stunning work. Seeing the photos is always my favorite part of getting a new cookbook and this book surpassed my expectations.
The next thing I noticed, was how unique the recipes are. Hearts of palm tamales, Reuben sandwiches made from carrots?!? I was so excited to see that the book was full of recipes I had never tried anything even remotely similar to.
Another favorite part of the book for me is the theme of #honoryourbliss. I love that Ashley is highlighting how a plant-based lifestyle helped her discover happiness and healthiness. I could totally relate to having veganism transform my life in many ways. Plus, heading to the kitchen to try out a new recipe is one of my favorite ways to find my bliss too
Being gluten-free, one of my biggest worries when receiving a new cookbook is that there won’t be very many recipes for me to try. Well, this was certainly not the case with the Blissful Basil cookbook. I think I only saw 1 or 2 recipes that weren’t gluten-free or gluten-free optional. Ashley has substitutions for just about every special diet including; gluten-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free, and soy-free. So this book is ideal if you or someone you cook for has dietary restrictions. They will love the endless allergen-free options.
Now, onto the food. First on my list of recipes to try was the Baked Mostaccioli with Walnut Bolognese and Cashew Mozzarella. The baked pasta dish was so full of flavor and I loved the gooey cashew mozzarella. The dish was truly like none other I’ve had, a difficult feat after years of veganism and cooking explorations.
The walnut bolognese was by far the most impressive part. I couldn’t believe how much it looked and smelled like meat. The trick to it seems to be the spices so make sure you don’t skip those. I almost skipped the ground fennel seeds because I couldn’t find them but decided to go to another store. I was oh so glad I did after smelling and tasting what an impact it makes to the bolognese. I highly recommend serving this dish to non-vegans, I am certain they will be amazed.
Next, we had to have something sweet of course! We decided on the Seasonal Fruit Crisp which has two filling suggestions; apple or blackberry. We went with apple since it’s perfect for this time of year. It turned out to be so so good! I loved the warming, comforting flavors of the cinnamon spiced dessert. Especially when served with a dollop of coconut whipped cream!
You can try Blissful Basil’s apple crisp for yourself with the recipe below!
Gluten-Free and Vegan Apple-Almond Crisp from Blissful Basil
For the filling:
4 large (2 pounds) Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and diced
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons arrowroot starch
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the almond topping:
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a medium round, oval, or rectangular 1 1/2 quart baking dish with coconut oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced apples, maple syrup, lemon juice, arrowroot, and cinnamon. Toss to coat, and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Add 1/2 cup of the rolled oats and the raw almonds to a food processor and process for 15 seconds, or until a coarse meal forms. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and whisk in the remaining 1 cup rolled oats, cinnamon, and sea salt. Add the maple syrup and melted coconut oil and stir to combine.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apple filling. Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the topping is deep golden brown and you can hear the liquid bubbling within the filling. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.
Serve with vanilla coconut milk ice cream and a drizzle of 5-Minute Caramel Sauce (page 306) if desired.
Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 4 days.
Reprinted from Blissful Basil by arrangement with BenBella Books. Copyright © 2016, Ashley Melillo.
The Blissful Basil cookbook is released next week so order online to get your copy! You’ll receive an ebook with 15 bonus recipes if you pre-order before Dec. 20th.
You won’t be disappointed by this book’s array of delicious vegan recipes. Join the #honoryourbliss movement by sharing in the comments below how you find your bliss!