If I had to choose one food blog whose recipes I would happily cook from for the rest of my life, it would without hesitation be The First Mess. I don’t remember the first time I stumbled upon Laura’s blog. It was probably about four or five years ago. But I do know that from the minute I did, I knew I had found something special.
Making Laura’s amazing plant-based food is pure comfort, pleasure, and nourishment. Her recipes always have that special touch that makes them unique, while being totally approachable. Although I’ve been following her for a while, she still never ceases to amaze me with her brilliant combinations, gorgeous photography (the way she plays with lights and shadows is just amazing!!) and engaging, authentic writing.
Yes, I could cook from Laura’s blog alone and be perfectly happy. And I could very well say the same thing about her debut cookbook, The First Mess. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this book ever since Laura announced she was writing it almost two years ago.
The wait was so worth it. I knew this book would be one-of-a-kind, but it somehow miraculously managed to exceed my (already very high) expectations.
We were driving from Montreal to Toronto a few days after I received the book, and I read it from cover to cover during the entire ride, not able to put it down. I usually skip right to the recipes and actually rarely read cookbooks. But Laura’s book is different. You want to dive right into her inspiring life and story – from when she was helping her dad with the farm market, to when she was learning the ins and outs of professional cooking in culinary school. You want to learn every little tip and trick she knows in the kitchen – from how she stocks her pantry to what her go-to kitchen tools are.
But the one thing that stands out the most is how passionate Laura is about food, and how it’s obviously part of her DNA. That love for cooking with real, whole ingredients jumps right at you from every page, and it’s to me what makes this book so beautiful.
I was lucky to attend Laura’s cookbook launch dinner this past Sunday and meet her in person for the first time. She is exactly like you would imagine her to be from reading her blog: approachable, kind, funny and totally down-to-earth. I’m so grateful to have met this special lady, and that she gets to share her talent with the world, through her blog and now through this gem of a cookbook.
I’ve made many recipes from the book these past couple weeks and every single one of them has been delightful. Her root vegetable dahl has now been added to my weekly rotation, her beet berry smoothie is my new go-to morning concoction, and I haven’t even gone to the dessert part yet!
I chose to share a salad recipe here with you because to me, Laura is the queen of salads. Whenever I want to bring a salad to a potluck, I head over to her blog and I know I’ll find something to make right away. This one here has all the things I love the most: crispy Brussel sprouts, creamy avocado, a little heat from the chili, crunchy toasted seeds, and a perfectly balanced miso dressing. I’ve made it twice already and it’s been gone in the blink of an eye.
Laura’s book will be released next week, on March 7th. You can pre-order it here. (Did I tell you it’s amazing?! Trust me, you need this book in your life! It is truly a gem, and a book I will cherish for many, many years to come.)
You can see more recipes from the book around the web too: Creamy Quinoa & White Bean Risotto, Morrocon Stew and Sunshine Crackers, Lentil Pepperoncini Salad, Cider & Sunflower Dressing, French Onion Lentil Pots, Small-Batch Roasted Soup, and Fudgy Nut + Seed Butter Brownies.
Enter to win your own copy of The First Mess cookbook by Laura Wright by leaving a comment below telling me what is your go-to salad recipe. Contest is open to Canada and US residents only and ends Friday March 10, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Best of luck to everyone!!
Recipe from The First Mess by Laura Wright. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.
- 1½ tbsp (22 ml) fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp (2 ml) lime zest
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp (10 ml) mellow or light miso
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure maple syrup
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 pound (454 g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 2 tsp (10 ml) virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp (2 ml) dried chili flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 small ripe avocado
- ¼ cup (50 ml) chopped fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup (50 ml) chopped fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup (50 ml) toasted sunflower seeds
- minced fresh chili pepper (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, Dijon mustard, light miso, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Tightly secure the lid, and shake the jar vigorously to combine. Mash any remaining lumps of miso with a spoon. Set aside.
- Place the quartered Brussels sprouts onto the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, flipping once at the halfway point. Brussels sprouts should appear evenly charred or browned.
- Transfer the hot Brussels sprouts to a medium bowl. Pour half of the dressing over the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat.
- Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a serving platter. Peel the avocado and remove the pit. Roughly dice the avocado and scatter the pieces on top of the Brussels sprouts. Drizzle the remaining half of the dressing over the salad. Garnish with the chopped mint, chopped basil, toasted sunflower seeds, and minced chili, if using. Serve immediately.