Review: Craving Vegan by Sam Turnbull

My Quick Take: Yum! This vegan cookbook that caters to cravings had me hankering for more delicious flavour-packed plant-based food.

Appetite by Random House (2023)

Thanks to Appetite by Random House for a gifted digital copy!


I’ve followed vegan recipe blogger and cookbook author Sam Turnbull on her website It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken for a few years now. I’ve made a few of her recipes in the past and they always turn out so well. They’re often a riff on vegan food that is tasty and bold: think meat substitutes like seitan and cheesy stand-ins like nutritional yeast and cashew-based sauces. There’s lots more on her site, but those are the ones I tend to gravitate to. It’s not ultra-healthy, but not unhealthy either, and I like the comfort-food vibe. I was so excited when I saw that her third cookbook was about to be published.

Craving Vegan seems like a cookbook close to Turnbull’s heart. In the Introduction, she talks a bit about her reasons for choosing veganism: animals, the planet, and health. It wasn't because she didn’t like meat, which is probably why many of her recipes are so boldly flavoured. In Craving Vegan, it’s all about comfort food:
“To me, comfort food can be familiar, sure, but when I'm craving a certain type of meal, I’m more focused on the sensation that the meal satisfies. Am I craving something crunchy and salty? Rich and creamy? Fluffy and carby? Hot and spicy? Sweet and chocolaty?

Instead of dividing this book into common chapters like soups, salads, pastas, and desserts, I decided to divide it into cravings. When I ask myself what I want for dinner, I don't think soup, salad, or pasta. I think about what craving I want to satisfy.”
And as promised, the recipes are divided into nine categories of “cravings.” When I scoured the offerings, I decided on three different “cravings.”

The Recipes:

Quick Corn Fritters (Carby!)

I’ll admit that I specifically searched out a recipe that used corn because I need to use up some of my front yard corn harvest. It was the first year I grew corn and I had an abundance. These corn fritters came together in a snap, and I really thought they weren’t going to be thick enough to hold together in the pan. But the recipe proved me wrong! These were amazing. My spouse and I loved them so much. We both agreed that they were greater than the sum of their parts. I was so glad to have leftovers.


Firecracker Cauliflower (Spicy!)

How easy was this? I’d say the ease to wow factor ratio was really high here. A head of cauliflower, a quick spicy-sweet sauce, toss it all together and roast. I love Frank’s Hot Sauce and this is one key ingredient. Note: I thought it’d be too wet if I used all the sauce, but I did and it came out perfectly. This made an excellent main over rice, and we just couldn’t stop reaching for tasty florets over the next few days from the fridge, so great snacking!


Red Lentil Pate (Meaty!)

I use a lot of spreads and dips, because cut up veggies are a go-to add on in my household for any meal. This pate was intriguing because it used lentils and sunflower seeds and seemed to pack in so much nutrition. I also love the addition of white miso paste. It came together easily in my food processor, and used refined coconut oil to encourage it to “set” after being chilled in the fridge. I didn’t find that it firmed up, but I don’t mind; it’s like a spread or dip, and it makes a ton! I froze two-thirds of it, and I’ve been using it on crackers, as a veggie dip, and mixed with a bit of vinegar for a salad dressing. It has a really unusual taste, and I’m trying to identify it…maybe the miso, or the sunflower seeds? Yum! And I love the distinct rosemary notes.



You know those cookbooks that you page through and you want to make almost everything? This is one of those. I nickname this type of cooking “hard-core vegan” and it gets me excited to cook. There are so many more recipes I want to make. I think I’m going to have to coin a new metric to describe cookbooks, and that is: Ease/Wow Factor Ratio. This cookbook has a very high ratio. These recipes were so easy to make (as long as you have a well-stocked vegan pantry), and the flavours packed a punch. I predict that Craving Vegan is going to become one of my staple cookbooks!