I’m obsessed with recipe-creator, food writer, and cookbook author Hetty McKinnon. As a slightly disgruntled subscriber to New York Times Cooking (not enough plant-based recipes; too many chicken sheet pan dinners), about a year ago, I realized the few NYT recipes I had incorporated into my dinner rotation were contributed by the same person: Hetty McKinnon.

The Flavorful World of Hetty McKinnon

As any former academic-turned-investigative journalist-turned-vegan food blogger would do, I consulted The Google to learn more about my latest Culinary Crush. Here’s some of what I learned:

  • Hetty grew up in a multi-cultural family in Australia.
  • Hetty’s beautiful, heart-felt cookbook, Tenderheart, is a tribute to her family, particularly her Chinese immigrant father, who learned English while selling bananas at a small grocery story. Hetty’s heart is as big as her talent.
  • Hetty publishes frequently in Food52, Bon Appetit and Epicurious.
  • Hetty is on Substack. If you sign up, she’ll send you a recipe each week. For a small fee, you can gain access to her treasure-trove of recipes.
  • Hetty’s plant-forward, creative takes on Asian standards, are not exclusively vegan; some are vegetarian. Pick and choose what you like.

Want more Hetty? Watch her interview at a WBUR (Boston’s local NPR station) event, talking about her book Tenderheart, but mostly, about her love of family, food, and life.

My 5 Favorite Hetty McKinnon Recipes 

Crispy Sheet Pan Noodles: (NYT paywall!) Sweet, sour and crispy, all in the same pan. It’s only negative: when I make it for dinner, I eat way more than I should.

Crispy Gnocchi Sheet Pan Dinner: Here’s a video that demonstrates how to put together a Hetty sheet pan dinner – with the added bonus of Hetty explaining how and why she does what she does. (Use vegan sour cream!)

Creamy Potato Gratin: Decadent creamy potatoes without dairy? A dream come true. Great Holiday Meal side dish.

Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Veggies: I love the versatility of the veggies you can use in this dish. It calls for cornflour, which I don’t have, even in my well-stocked pantry. There are lots of substitutes. Basically, it’s a thickener, so I’d use either arrowroot or cornstarch (which I have), or eliminate it completely (which I typically do for stir-fry recipes that use thickeners).

Turmeric and Coconut Braised Cabbage with Chickpeas: I love cabbage, but somehow always have too much of it (especially in the winter, when the lack of fresh, local vegetables on the East Coast gets depressing), and run out of cabbage-related ideas. This is one of the best ways to enjoy its crunch – with lots of flavor and protein-packed chickpeas.