You Can Cook This!

Turn the 30 Most Commonly Wasted Foods into 135 Delicious Plant-Based Meals: A Vegan Cookbook

About the Book

135 super-simple plant-based recipes that celebrate your favorite vegetables and save time, money, and waste, from social media star chef Max La Manna

Discover brilliantly simple and flavor-packed recipes that embrace the power of plants—and help you fight food waste. For one year, Max La Manna asked his social media audience which foods they threw away the most, and using the tens of thousands of responses, he narrowed down a list of thirty of the most commonly wasted ingredients, which serve as the foundation of this cookbook. Using his innovative approach to transforming these components into delicious dishes with big flavor, You Can Cook This! offers 135 no-fuss, plant-based recipes that anyone can get on the table with joy and ease, including:

• Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Spicy Lemon Mayo
• Cauliflower Ragu
• Tofu Butter “Chicken”
• Stems and Herbs Pesto Pasta
• Coffee Ground Pancakes
• Triple Chocolate Birthday Cake

Covering everything from weeknight dinners and comforting one-pot meals to sweet treats and instant crowd-pleasers, this book is also a solutions-based guide, with practical ideas for using up the whole vegetable, transforming leftovers, and storing food to maximize freshness. And with the recipes organized by ingredient, you can quickly and easily find a meal that uses what you already have on hand, whether it’s the bag of salad in the back of your fridge, the bread sitting on your counter, or the broccoli stems you’re not sure how to use.

Max’s few-ingredient, low-waste recipes will inspire, excite, and transform the way you cook, eat, and save food.
Some of the recipes in this book include dairy products, but please know that you can use your favorite plant-based substitution for an equally delicious dish.
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Praise for You Can Cook This!

“[A] fresh look at how to make the most of each week’s grocery purchases and enjoy the results, all while helping the planet.”Booklist
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You Can Cook This!


If you ask me what I love the most, I would say to you without hesitation— food (really sorry to my wife; she knows this already, and she’s a close second). I have never been shy to talk about food or my passion for wasting less of it.

First and foremost, my love of food means that I simply enjoy cooking and eating it, and I hate seeing it wasted. However, I grew up in the US, which is without a doubt one of the most wasteful countries in the world, and its throw-away food culture is no exception.

It’s not just pre-packaged fast and cheap food that is treated as disposable: the same ethos is found in high-end restaurants, too. During my time trying to make it as an actor, I worked at an array of restaurants in Los Angeles and New York City, including one with a Michelin star. Food waste was rife at all of them. It pained me.

Once I admitted defeat against my acting aspirations, I turned my focus to championing the food we already have in our fridges and cupboards, and finding exciting new ways to cook the meals we crave the most. I did this in person by hosting dinners for friends, corporate events, and demonstrations, and then later on a digital scale, creating content that is accessible and easy to follow for as many people as possible.

The recipes I’ve created are here to inspire, excite, and transform the way you cook, store, and save food. You may be someone who cooks every day, or perhaps you’re someone who wants to learn or cook more; whoever you are, whatever your motivation, this book is a practical guide, showing you how to develop and cook delicious, simple dishes with the food you already have in your kitchen.

You Can Cook This!—and you probably should! Get in the kitchen right now, explore your fridge and cupboards, uncover the neglected and forgotten ingredients—as long as it’s safe to eat and there isn’t mold growing on it—and cook your way through these pages. You’ll see how effortless it is to create meals using what you already have, and what’s more, they’ll save you money and time.

Why I Wrote This Cookbook

Before we start cooking, I need to say a BIG thank-you to those of you who follow me on social media. I asked you for ideas and inspiration; you may recall the question boxes on my Instagram stories that said: “Tell me the food you waste the most,” and from this simple question, I had tens of thousands of responses. Collecting the data, I’ve narrowed it down to the top 30 most-wasted ingredients in your homes. I don’t think you’re going to be surprised by the focus-led ingredients in this cookbook—you’ll already be familiar with most of them. However, I think you may be encouraged by how easy it is to cook these recipes and waste less food.

How This Cookbook Works

It’s easier than ever to cook mouth-watering dishes for yourself and your loved ones. This is how it works: all you need is to find an ingredient you want to cook, head to the chapter with said ingredient, and there you’ll find delicious, easy-tocook recipes to choose from. You’ll find further inspiration in the Occasion Index (page 276). These recipes are designed to encourage you to use the entire vegetable, grain, or fruit so that there’s no half-cut, rogue piece of onion or bagged salad wilting and rotting away in your fridge. In this book, there are classics with a twist like my Cauliflower RagÙ (page 146); hearty meals such as Romesco Risotto (page 108); fan favorites like Tofu Butter “Chicken” (page 124) and Crispy Smashed Potatoes (page 36); indulgent sweet recipes, such as Salted Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Tahini Brownies (page 219) and Carrot Pecan Cake and Orange Drizzle (page 46); comfort food, such as Beet Bucatini (page 30) or One-Pan Lasagna (page 84) and finger-licking snacks—don’t miss my Spicy Baked Cauliflower Wings (page 148) and Loaded Nachos (page 19)!

There’s a disproportionate amount of pressure placed on personal responsibility to create less waste in the world. The majority of this pressure should be redirected and placed on the world’s top 100 most-polluting corporations—who are responsible for 71 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Not all individuals have the privilege, time, and access to forgo plastic packaging and cook every meal from scratch. With that said, I have firsthand experience of how individual change—with the planet in mind—can benefit our mental health and sense of purpose and community. The more of us aboard this ship, the more positive change we can make.

Enjoy cooking, sharing, and eating delicious food.


About the Author

Max La Manna
Born and raised in North America, Max La Manna is a self-taught chef, an award-winning author, and has been featured in Vogue, Food Network, The Times, BBC News, and Vice. Boasting over one million followers, Max has electrified social media with simple, delicious, low-waste recipes that put vegetables at the heart of his cooking. His down-to-earth, few-ingredient approach means that he advocates for low-waste living in a truly accessible way. Max lives in the English countryside with his wife and their thirty-three houseplants. More by Max La Manna
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