The First Mess Cookbook – Laura Wright

The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons by Laura Wright, the writer behind the Saveur award-winning blog, The First Mess, shares more than 125 beautifully prepared seasonal whole-food recipes in this her eagerly anticipated debut title. 

Simple-to-prepare vegan recipes with beautiful photographs and enchanting storytelling await us in this stunner of a book. Each recipe showcases the best each season has to offer and, as a whole, demonstrate that plant-based wellness is both accessible and delicious.

Let’s talk about the recipes – I have only made two but the two I made were standouts. The Caramelized Onion Potato Salad is perfect and was so delicious our guests kept refilling their plates. We are not fans of mayo-based salads so this will be my new go-to recipe. Recently, I  made the pot stickers that we are sharing with our readers – these were perfect for my son and I as we love sprouts and mushrooms. My potstickers weren’t as pretty as Laura’s but they were incredible and far better than any I have ever made before. Each time I make wontons or potstickers, I coach myself to take my time and make them pretty and after the first few I throw in the towel and make rustic potstickers. One day, I will take a class and learn to fold them properly until then we will eat slightly imperfect, but totally yummy potstickers. 

I have so many  more recipes to make and so little time. If vegan books continue to share this caliber of recipes, my cookbook collection is going to grow. I love finding new and exciting ways to try more plant-focused dishes and The First Mess is a great place to start.

Special thanks to Avery Books and the author for sharing this tasty recipe with our readers. Be sure to head over to our contest page to enter our giveaway open to US and Canadian members.

Gingered Brussels Sprout and Shiitake Pot Stickers
Makes about 25 pot stickers

These look fussy to make with their folded tops, but I assure you they’re anything but. After I moisten the edge of the wonton wrapper, I quickly pinch and secure in any way I can to get the Brussels sprout and shiitake filling locked in. They wind up looking pretty in that “perfectly imperfect” way. If I’m serving these as a snack or an appetizer, I brown them ahead of time and just keep them warm on a low setting in the oven. The salty-sweet soy dip absolutely makes these.

Dipping Sauce

¼ cup (50 mL) gluten-free tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 mL) pure maple syrup
½-inch (1 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated with a Microplane grater
1 green onion, finely sliced
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sesame seeds 

Pot Stickers

1 tablespoon (15 mL) virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking
1 medium shallot, fine dice (about ¼ cup/50 mL diced shallot)
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 cups (500 mL) sliced Brussels sprouts (about ½ pound/227 g)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
salt and pepper, to taste
25 wonton wrappers

1. Make the dipping sauce: Whisk the tamari, maple syrup, ginger, green onion, and sesame seeds together in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Make the potstickers: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots. Stir and cook until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Stir and sauté the mushrooms until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts, garlic, and ginger, and stir. Season everything with salt and pepper. Keep stirring the filling until the Brussels sprouts are bright green and slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and allow the filling to cool slightly.

3. Set out a small bowl of water. To assemble the pot stickers, divide the vegetable filling among the wonton wrappers, placing about 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Take one filled wonton wrapper and dip your finger in the bowl of water. Moisten two sides of the wrapper, fold all sides together, and pinch along the edge to form a seal. Repeat with the remaining filled wrappers.

4. Wipe the sauté pan and heat a thin slick of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the pot stickers in batches until they’re golden brown on all sides, about 1 full minute per side. Add more oil to the pan as needed to finish cooking all the pot stickers.

5. Serve the pot stickers hot with the dipping sauce on the side.

Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button)

Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright


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  • Kristjudy  on  April 5, 2017

    The pot stickers sound very good!!

  • Kristjudy  on  April 5, 2017

    Oh the pot stickers look and sound so good.

  • AlisonL  on  April 5, 2017

    My favorite way to include more plant-based recipes in my menu planning is to pick a book and find different dishes that sound like fun to make…then I shop and attempt to make them.

  • AlisonL  on  April 5, 2017

    The pot stickers sound yummy. The potato salad you mention would be the dish I would dive into if I had to choose between the two! You had me at caramelized onion…

  • Siegal  on  April 5, 2017

    I love dumpling

  • Nancith  on  April 6, 2017

    When I'm really trying hard to get my "plant items" in for the day, I usually throw some in a smoothie–not very creative, but it works! Even though eating a vegetarian diet, it is too easy to just rely on carbs to get me through the day. This book looks beautiful.

  • hippiechick1955  on  April 6, 2017

    I don't have to worry about trying to incorporate plant based foods in my meals because that's all I eat. I am really hoping to win this book to give recipes because I'm not talented enough to come up with my own.

  • monique.potel  on  April 7, 2017

    intriguing the wild stuff is calling me

  • t.t  on  April 7, 2017

    interesting use of brussels sprouts instead of the more usual napa cabbage

  • fiarose  on  April 8, 2017

    i think including more plant-based recipes starts at the grocery store! i just make sure i pick up a ton of veggies, sticking to the outside of the aisles; when i get home it's a good exercise figuring out how i'm going to use them. you only cook what's in your kitchen!

  • PennyG  on  April 9, 2017

    When I pick up beautiful goodies at the Farmers Market, I am always inspired to make more plant-based recipes.

  • earthnfire  on  April 9, 2017

    These sound delicious – can't want to try them.

  • trudys_person  on  April 11, 2017

    The Potstickers sound delicious! And I'm always trying to find imaginative ways to get my husband to eat Brussels sprouts …

  • christineleong  on  April 12, 2017

    I make vegetables the main ingredients in every meal and it has inspired me to get creative.

  • Uhmandanicole  on  April 15, 2017

    I try to have at least one or two vegetable dishes per meal and use pinterest, the internet, and my own cookbooks for inspiration

  • lgroom  on  April 15, 2017

    I've always had a big garden (this year, sigh, I won't) and I always find a way to add lots of veggies to a meal.

  • RSW  on  April 17, 2017

    Growing my own or buying locally and scouring vegetarian cookbooks for unique recipes.

  • JenJoLa  on  April 18, 2017

    I try to incorporate more vegetables by looking for creative recipes in cookbooks.

  • meggan  on  April 20, 2017

    A trip to the farmers market!

  • edyenicole  on  April 22, 2017

    We always are finding plat-based recipes online! 🙂

  • kelliwinter  on  April 24, 2017

    ii always shop at the farmers market, in the off season at the Co-op and go straight for the veggie section, fill my cart so there is no room for anything else!

  • imaluckyducky  on  April 24, 2017

    We eat vegan for breakfast and lunch, and have a garden that we experiment with every year

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  April 29, 2017

    I try to include more plant-based recipes in my cooking by growing some of my own plants.

  • SnarkyLarane  on  April 29, 2017

    I include more plant based recipes by cutting out meat several days a week. Then I have to eat plant based!

  • ohyoucook  on  April 30, 2017

    To get my family to eat more plant-based foods I have to first include it as side to a meat course. After getting a taste, then they will "allow" me to serve it as the main in a future dinner. Slow and steady gets you there.

  • jennifer852501  on  April 30, 2017

    I'll be making a giant batch of your green tahini sauce asap 🙂 excited about the book!!

  • bstewart  on  May 8, 2017

    The potstickers look amazing, and I love the healthy focus.

  • AnnaZed  on  May 9, 2017

    I like to go to the Farmers Market and buy every wonderful thing that is in season and then design a menu plan based on what I have.

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