The week is wrapping up, and I’m afraid that the stubborn cold I thought I’d shaken off a couple weeks ago might be returning. I’ve got work to do this weekend, but thanks to a stocked freezer and a giant batch of my friends’ Sonja and Alex’s Moroccan sweet potato stew, I don’t have to worry about cooking. The stew is fragrant, filling, and nutritious, and I’ll be eating it happily for days.
This is a recipe from Sonja and Alex’s awesome new cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, which was published on Tuesday.
Those of you who read the couple’s blog, A Couple Cooks, know that Sonja and Alex are all about homemade food that’s as accessible as it is beautiful to look at and healthful to eat. The cookbook follows suit; it’s packed with everyday nibbles and satisfying main dishes that are easy to prepare. Sonja and Alex also have a lot of wisdom to share about building a healthful relationship with food; the Q&A I did with Sonja a couple years back is one of my favorite conversations I’ve had on this topic.
When I first flipped through the pages of the book, I could tell right away that this is the kind of cookbook I’ll use often—it’s not a coffee table book (even though it is beautifully designed!) or an ambitious primer that I’ll pull off the shelf when I’m in the mood for a weekend project. It’s packed with everyday favorites, like vegan chili and potato chowder, roasted cauliflower and black bean tacos, rainbow soba noodle bowls, and no-bake raw brownie truffles. These are staple foods, dishes I never get tired of.
Sonja and Alex cleverly organize the book around culinary lessons that just so happen to double as life lessons. They are:
As you might guess, recipes are divided thematically among these themes. There are bread recipes to challenge those who are afraid of baking, minimalist recipes that foster an appreciation of quality ingredients, mighty mains that encourage slowing down and savoring something layered, and sweets that are indulgent, yet ialigned with mindful eating. Through it all runs Sonja’s friendly, personable form of culinary instruction, which I’m pretty sure could make any recipe feel doable.
All of the recipes are vegetarian, if not vegan (and many are vegan), and I’ve got at least a dozen bookmarked. But I started with something comforting and wintery and great for fending off a burgeoning (or returning?) cold: the Moroccan sweet potato stew. It features warming spices, chickpeas for textures, chopped apricots for sweetness, and it’s meant to be served with quinoa, though I made a batch of millet for mine instead.
I smiled as I was preparing the recipe, because Sonja recently chose to make and share the Moroccan sweet potatoes and lentils from Power Plates on her blog! Seems as though she and I are craving similar eats right now. Here’s her hearty and stress-free recipe.
I made a couple of very tiny tweaks to the recipe: the millet instead of quinoa (I was out of quinoa), and I used my cashew cream in place of Greek yogurt. Sonja also has a killer recipe for creamy cashew sauce, which she suggests to make the recipe vegan. Pretty Simple Cooking has a bunch of easy tips like that—suggestions that will turn a recipe from vegetarian to vegan without any losses in translation.
I’m so enjoying the practicality and warmth that this book has to offer, and I can feel all of the love that Sonja and Alex poured into it. And I’m happy to be sharing a giveaway copy with one US or Canadian reader, below. I’ll announce the winner one week from today.
And if you live in NYC and would like to hang out with me and Sonja in person, we’ll be doing an event together at Essex Market on 2/22. You can get the details here: we’ll be making recipes from our books, chatting about making weeknight cooking a reality, and sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned about home cooking along the way. We’d love to see you there.
Huge congrats to Sonja and Alex on their publication, and loving wishes to everyone as we move into the weekend. See you for the reading roundup.