Jul 21, 2023

by Bridget O’Donnell

If you hadn’t noticed from some of the previous PPLD What’s Cooking Blog posts, I’m a fan of no-waste kitchen trends.

Vegetable scrap broth, rendered drippings and compost bins are used as interchangeably in my meal prep as less processed sugars, “healthier” cooking oils and their whole food substitutions – all used in moderation, of course. So, habitually following those lifestyle choices, I was more than curious to try the “Oil-Free Italian Salad Dressing Recipe” a coworker verbally shared with me at our last CSA-Union meeting and I’ll tell you why. (Sometimes it amazes me that word of mouth still seems to be one of the best forms of dissemination. Anyway, …)

As stated in the title, it was oil free. Substituting oil with the bean brine found in a can of chickpeas, only recently named “aquafaba” in the culinary world, produces less waste. Lastly, chickpeas have become a staple in my diet. As long as I have a can available, they’re found in my assembly line salads as added protein (refer to post #24 for image). Once rinsed and/or roasted they can also be eaten as a snack. Although it’s been brought to my attention that chickpeas may be an acquired taste, they’ve become such an integral part of my routine that, on occasion, I’ve made a special trip to the store to buy another can, or four.

Regretfully, as inspiring as the no waste kitchen sounds I wouldn’t be honest if I led you to believe that every scrap or byproduct is [re]used in our kitchen. Time-constraints, taste preferences, and/or lack of imagination are usually to blame. Most of the time I dump the contents from a can of low sodium garbanzo beans into a colander and continue to rinse the beans without giving much thought to that viscous “magic liquid” draining down the sink.

Title of Cookbook: Baking Magic with Aquafaba: Transform Your Favorite Vegan Treats with the Revolutionary New Egg Substitute .

Author of Cookbook: Kelsey Kinser                                    

What prompted you to check out this cookbook? 

About a month earlier I had luck with a small batch of homemade Caesar dressing. It wasn’t made with aquafaba but I appreciated knowing what ingredients we were actually eating. Making a smaller batch also left room for the other partially used condiments to continue residing in the refrigerator.

Purchasing cookbooks for the library made me aware of using aquafaba in various desserts and meringues but, I hadn’t taken the time to look into its application further. Serendipitously, my coworker said she would send a copy of the “Oil Free Italian Salad Dressing Recipe” which further prompted me to look for dressing recipes that called for aquafaba and use what I’d (dated and) refrigerated after our conversation.

The first recipe I tried had a grocery list of ingredients that, fortunately, were already available to me by making minor substitutions. I scaled that down to about two or three portions and then used the remaining aquafaba in a small batch of the oil free recipe I received in my inbox a day later. The recipes were very different but both seemed to taste better after marinating overnight or longer.

It was gratifying to successfully try something new while also meeting a personal goal to use the reserved aquafaba before its expiration date at the end of the week. No waste!, which ultimately led me to checking out this cookbook and other creative uses for bean brine. (That’s the abridged answer.)

What did you like about this cookbook?

This cookbook provided another perspective. Acknowledging dietary restrictions that were different than my own transcended the following a-ha moment. The author compiled an autonomous cookbook that supplies recipes for vegan ingredients required to make other recipes. Examples include: [vegan] butter, cheese and mayonnaise. (Amazing!?! NO other cookbook does that, right? Sometimes I have to laugh at myself, hahah…)

Other things I learned:

  • Aquafaba is a modern ingredient in the Vegan kitchen.
  • Aquafaba is the liquid or bean brine chickpeas have been boiled/cooked in but it can also be the liquid from any white bean or tofu. Generally, it’s suggested to use lighter beans because they have a more neutral color and flavor.
  • In addition to liquid from a can, aquafaba can be made at home and is also sold as a powder.
  • Aquafaba is used as a substitute for eggs, dairy and oil and can therefore also act as a stabilizer, a binding agent and/or a leavening agent. Since aquafaba shares a lot of properties with egg whites it can be used as an alternative ingredient in cosmetics and claims to help protect and strengthen fine hair.
  • There’s something called “cake stripes.”

What didn’t you like about this cookbook?

  • Unfortunately, little is really known about the science behind aquafaba. Results from a Google search would suggest it has little, to no nutritional value. (Bummer.) And, while French toast, crepes, chocolate mousse, ice cream, marshmallow crème/fluff and homemade sprinkles appealed to my sweet tooth, I was more interested in the ingredient’s versatility in savory recipes.
  • FYI: Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free Using the Magic of Bean Water by Zsu Dever has a lot more savory recipes.
  • The cookbook didn’t have many photographs but, not a deal breaker.
  • The author was a little inconsistent in providing “use by” dates. Unless stated otherwise, I might assume most recipes made with aquafaba should be consumed within a week based on how long the individual ingredients hold up. (Maybe everything I eat should be…?)

Favorite recipes (that you tried from the cookbook/website): [Vegan] Aioli, also referred to as garlic mayonnaise.

Did you alter the recipe or make any substitutions?  Actually, I didn’t have to. One of the local grocery stores had a small squeeze bottle of vegan aioli on a discounted shelf. So far we’ve experimented by using the condiment on grilled chicken and deli sandwiches, homemade French fries and, fish cakes. Some combinations taste better than others but that’s personal preference.

Would you recommend this cookbook/recipe? Yes, especially if you’re an adventurous eater or observe a Vegan diet.