I turn to Izy Hossack’s blog, Top with Cinnamon, for delicious and vegan friendly recipes. But more often than that, I read it for culinary guidance. Izy has a knack for making seemingly complex recipes (especially baking projects) feel easy and appealing, and her curious, studious spirit shines through her words. She’s obviously fascinated by food, but not in a way so academic or scientific that she doesn’t also seem to have a lot of fun when she’s cooking, too.
Her new book, The Savvy Cook, is made up of 100 recipes that embody the best of what Izy shares on her blog: food that’s simple, but not at the expense of taste or technique, and budget-friendly to boot. It’s full of small and big meals that you can whip up using pantry-friendly ingredients, and at a moment’s notice. These are dinners and lunches and snacks for busy days and nights, relayed in a voice that encourages modification and flexibility. It’s an awesome resource for plant-based cooks who are either new to the kitchen or hoping to simplify and streamline their cooking.
The book includes recipes like Lazy Potato Hash, Orzo with Squash, Chili, Lemon & Peas, Paprika Bean Stew: nutritious, grain and legume-based dishes that come together quickly. It’s also full of staples, like homemade flatbread and pita, tons of dips and dressings, pizza dough, and pickled vegetables.
My favorite feature is Izy’s “clear the fridge” section, which features recipes that can be prepared with odds, ends, and scraps—such useful guidance, and often overlooked in cookbooks. The section is organized around templates, including a pizza template (with three different flavor/ingredient options), a frittata template (not vegan, but I’d love to try with silken tofu), a taco template, and a stir fry template.
And needless to say, Izy’s “cheeky treats” section is full of desserts that are beautiful to look at, but non-fussy. I’m dying to try her oaty snack cake, cookie dough balls, and apricot sugar buns.
Izy’s falafel smash brings together everything I love about the book. It’s incredibly quick to make, and it comes together with zero appliances, but it still channels the flavor and ingredients of homemade falafel. Basically, you spread two flatbreads or pitas with yogurt (regular or vegan), then pile them high with spicy greens, pickled vegetables, a quick cilantro sauce, and a chunky mixture of smashed chickpeas with cumin and olive oil. It’s textured and flavorful, and each part of the recipe takes only a couple minutes to make. Izy offers the option of homemade pita or flatbread, but that’s optional.
Another bonus of this recipe is that you’re likely to have many or all of the ingredients at home (a can of chickpeas, a bunch of cilantro or other fresh herbs, bread, spices, olive oil). I didn’t actually have any red onion with which to make the suggested pickled onion, but I did have some homemade pickled red cabbage, and I suspected Izy would say that was just fine, given how welcoming she is to tweaks and adjustments.
The cabbage was delicious, as was the whole recipe: it was a lunch that felt flavorful and thoughtful in spite of being easy enough to whip up in less than twenty minutes. I’m sure I’ll be making it again, adding different herbs and pickled things as I go.
Izy Hossack's Falafel Smash
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
- A few handfuls pea shoots or arugula
- A few slices of pickled red onion thinly sliced raw red onion, or other pickled vegetables
- 4-6 homemade or store-bought pita breads
For the cilantro sauce:
- 1 garlic clove crushed or minced
- 2 large handfuls cilantro finely chopped (including stems)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- Generous pinch salt
- In a bowl, lightly mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork, or pulse them briefly in a food processor or countertop blender if you have one. Stir in the salt, ground cumin, ground coriander, crushed red pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the cilantro sauce.
- Layer up the yogurt, the pea shoots or arugula, chickpea mixture, cilantro sauce, and pickled or raw red onion on the breads and serve.
The Savvy Cook is such a rich resource. Each recipe feels not only like a recipe, but also like a meal idea that can be spun out in many new directions. At the end of the book, Izy offers up tips on how to meal plan for busy weeks, some sample days (featuring the recipes), and even a sample shopping list. She clearly believes—as I do—that home cooking can have a place in any busy schedule.
I’d love to offer one of my US or Canadian readers a copy of this super savvy, super inspiring book. If you’re interested in checking out the recipes for yourself, please enter below! I’ll announce the winner one week from today.
And on that note, the weekend’s here, and we made it. See you for another Sunday roundup.