Vegan soul food? Yes, please! We are so happy to bring you our review of Chef Joya’s new southern soul-inspired cookbook Cooking with Joya: It’s Soul Mahmazing Vol. 1.
Joya recently published her first e-cookbook Cooking with Joya: It’s Soul Mahmazing! Vol. 1. – a collection of southern and soul food inspired recipes all made vegan.
Joya mentions she’s been vegan since the age of 7, so you know these recipes are time-tested and tasty. We were so taken with her and with her amazing-looking dishes, we just had to order a copy of the e-book for ourselves.
In It’s Soul Mahmazing, Joya brings together over 20 of her classic dishes.
Though sadly, her HIGHLY lauded vegan rib recipe was not in there (I may have to watch this video over and over to figure that one out!), the book is chock full of “mahmazing” recipes you are SURE to enjoy!
And in case you were wondering, Chef Joya explains “mahamazing” means “more than amazing” – definitely an accurate description of these recipes!
In her e-cookbook, Chef Joya includes mains, sides, and a few scrumptious desserts. There’s even a lovely looking ginger-based beverage I am just itching to try!
We’ve made three of the dishes from her book in the past week: the Black-eyed Peas over rice, “Mama’s Black & White Greens,” and Joya’s Creamy Coleslaw.
Here we go!
Mama’s Black and White Greens
I love greens. Always have – especially when they’re cooked right. (I even like them a little when they’re not!)
But sometimes people just don’t know how to flavor them properly and you’re left, basically, with a bowl of wet leaves. Chef Joya is NOT one of those people!
That simple addition really allows a subtle hickory flavor to penetrate the greens and bring them not just to the next level, but to whatever the one is after that!
The addition of the cabbage brings a nice subtlety to the collards that may help those who have a fear of darker greens, and the colors really play off each other. The red bell pepper gives a beautiful offset of brightness to the dish.
The only thing I would warn you about: The recipe makes a LOT!
The recipe is fantastic as-written if you’re cooking for a big family dinner. But, if you’re going to be making these only for two people (or even just yourself), I would suggest cutting the recipe amounts in half at least. You’ll still end up with a lot of greens, and you’ll be glad you do!
If you think the flavor of these is great the first day you make them, wait until they’ve had a chance to sit a bit.
The Picky Eater’s Opinion
MUCH to my surprise, B – not a fan of green leaf foods in leaf form ever – even tried a sampling of these!
She said she had to a) for science and b) “because they smell absolutely amazing!”
She liked them and thought they had a great flavor, but baby steps. (It’s like me and mushrooms… baby steps!)
All in all, these are amazing tasting, beautiful looking greens and a wonderful, flavorful recipe to serve to someone who might have that uncertainty about greens. They are truly proof that when you’re good to Mama….
Ladies and gentlemen, the Black-Eyed Peas!
Oh. My. Lord. The smells coming out of that pot.
I actually believe there may be a section of heaven where you can go to enjoy this smell, but it’s going to be SO popular, you have to get advance tickets!
I’ve had black-eyed peas before, (B had not – more on that later) but these were the best I’ve ever had! Truly.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to inform you all that I did have to divert from the recipe just the slightest little bit:
I went to three different supermarkets, and they were ALL out of dried black-eyed peas. So finally, I just decided to grab a few cans of black-eyed peas because I really, really wanted these.
Because I was now working with canned instead of dry beans, I cut the amount of liquid and the cooking time recommended in Joya’s recipe. It actually worked out in my favor, because we were able to enjoy them that much sooner! And enjoy them we did!
This recipe also calls for vegan ham, and luckily, we had made a batch of our seitan ham a couple days earlier. Waste not, want not and whatnot!
I would have NEVER thought to use this ham the way Chef Joya does in this recipe. It’s genius! This simple and quick addition really elevated an already amazing recipe.
The fire-roasted tomatoes, brown sugar, and spices cook down to give the beans a thick, flavorful sauce that brings the whole dish together.
Something I always liked about black-eyed peas is the creamy texture of the bean and the way they’ll really pull in the flavors of the sauce. These did not disappoint in the slightest.
The Picky Eater’s Opinion
B was a HUGE fan of these! She even declared they will now be on regular rotation in our kitchen.
As I had mentioned, she had never had black-eyed peas, so this was a bit of a new experience for her. She absolutely loved them!
She even came down the next morning saying she woke up thinking about them. And – are you ready for this?? – she said she could see herself eating more of the greens if I mixed them in with the Black-eyed peas!
What?! Chef Joya, you may just be a miracle-worker.
I’m sure you’ll agree, there are some dishes, especially in the summer, that just feel incomplete without a side of slaw. You look at your plate, and it’s nice and it can be just full of food, yet you can’t help but think “Where’s the slaw?!”
Coleslaw is one of the only mayo-based side dishes that didn’t completely disgust me in the past – as long as it wasn’t too mayonnaise-y. Joya’s recipe and the amounts are spot on to my liking.
This was so delicious and just like I remembered! It’s a simple, traditional coleslaw recipe, and it’s exactly as it should be: creamy without being heavy.
I knew B wanted to try this (she loves a good coleslaw) and she was such a trooper with the collard greens.
Anyway, we were making our carrot dogs, and I had some cabbage leftover from the greens. It just seemed right, you know?
The recipe for this comes together so quickly and easily. It’s just the vegan mayo and maybe five other ingredients.
Follow Joya’s Tips for Best Results
And the results are just fantastic. You really do want to follow Joya’s suggestion and let this set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before eating to let all the flavors and seasonings really come together.
The time allows some of the liquid from the cabbage to blend with the mayo and milk. It creates that creamy sauce that isn’t too wet. I think that’s one of the signs of a good slaw. And, this is a GOOD slaw.
As I said, we paired this with our carrot dogs and the last of the black-eyed peas. I imagine that plate without the coleslaw. It just doesn’t seem right or complete.
As I said, some dishes just beg for a side of slaw. Thank you, Joya, for helping achieve culinary symbiosis on our plates!
What Vegan Soul Food Recipes We’re Trying Next!
There are so many other great-looking dishes in Chef Joya’s book that we can’t wait to try!
The oyster mushroom-based fried chik’n pot pie looks absolutely ridiculous and delicious AF. I feel as though I’d require a bib when eating it! And B is DYING to try Joya’s recipes for fried chik’n, baked spaghetti, and mac & cheez.
If I can find some good blackberries this weekend I’m making that cobbler. The southern-fried “fysh” made with banana blossoms also REALLY intrigues me. I could see making a big basket of “fish and chips” with these. Mmmmm… Old Bay and malt vinegar.
Speaking of banana blossoms, Chef Joya also offers a glossary in the back with various ingredient options and some info on the lesser-known ingredients.
All-in-all, we would highly recommend adding It’s Soul Mahmazing to your e-cookbook library and bringing a little Joya to your kitchen. We are SO glad we did!
When you grab your copy (you can find it RIGHT HERE), let us know in the comments: What’s the first thing you’re going to make?!
And if you get any pics of the dishes you make, don’t forget to tag us and Joya on IG so we can all drool over your delicious creations! On IG, you can find Chef Joya at @CookingWithJoya.
Until next time, friends. Happy cooking!