Book Corner: 7 Cookbooks with Great Veggie Dishes

[Photo: Nick Kindelsperger]

It can be so easy to fall into a vegetable rut. I mean, everyone loves a pan of cauliflower or brussels sprouts roasted until caramelized and crispy, but after enough repetition, even that can get old. So we turn to these cookbooks for vegetable inspiration: books which open our eyes to new veggie-prep options, from unusual braised dishes to creative spice combinations.

Hey, vegetable lovers, what's your favorite book for vegetable dishes? Which recipes are in your frequent rotation?

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

20120425plenty.jpg"I got Plenty at a white elephant gift exchange this December. Which are supposed to be blind, of course, but the woman who brought it tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, 'Pick the white-wrapped book in the center. It's the best vegetable cookbook you'll ever see.' And she was right. It sat on my kitchen table for days and every time I saw it, I'd flip through, awestruck; vegetables had never looked so beautiful. I didn't cook from it for days because I didn't know which recipe to make first! But now I've broken it in, with the gorgeous eggplant dish on the cover, the Sweet And Spicy Brussels Sprouts With Tofu And Shiitake Mushrooms, Black Pepper Tofu, this Chickpea Sauté With Greek Yogurt... I appreciate it more every time I cook from it."—Carey Jones, Senior Managing Editor

Buy it on Amazon, around $21 »


660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer

20120425curriesbook.jpg"The vegetarian section of my cookbook collection is vast, and within it live some of my most oft referenced volumes. And while there are plenty (including the stellar and stunning Plenty from Yotam Ottolenghi) that I find myself turning to again and again, 660 Curries is the vegetarian cookbook from which I've learned the most. Author Raghavan Iyer has put together a virtually inexhaustible collection of Indian recipes that includes options for every vegetable you can think of, many of which aren't typically associated with Indian cooking.

Iyer's recipes are miles away from the steam table mush that puts so many folks off eating Indian. His curries allow their vegetable ingredients to not only keep their integrity but really shine with big flavors, exotic spices, and a fresh style. 660 Curries is a book that not only demystifies Indian cooking but also makes it exciting and accessible, making for a new way to enjoy vegetarian cooking and eating. Iyer's Stewed Beets with Beet Greens and Ginger is on constant rotation at my place."—Caroline Russock, Cook the Book

Buy it on Amazon, around $16 »


Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman

20120425mediharvest.jpg"Martha Rose Shulman doesn't know it, but we're food twins. I could eat nothing but the recipes in this book and be happy for the rest of my life. It's a collection of vegetarian recipes from the Mediterranean (including those countries in the Middle East and North Africa). They're all delicious and easy to execute. I love her Greek potato and olive stew in the winter, when it breathes summer into my diet while using what's available. Large white beans with tomatoes and garlic are perfect on a spring night, the juices sopped up with bread, and the chapter on mezes has started more than one of my dinner parties. "—Carrie Vasios, Sweets Editor

Buy it on Amazon, around $16 »


The Moosewood Books by Mollie Katzen

20120425moosewoodbook.jpg"I picked up a lovingly tattered copy of Mollie Katzen's The Moosewood Cookbook at a used book store almost a decade ago, and it's still sitting on my shelf, even more dog-eared and stained. Katzen has a natural way with veggies, preparing them simply and honestly, never too complicated. My Moosewood library has since expanded to include The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without and Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates. Even though her books don't often include big glossy photos of the finished dish, the illustrations are adorable and friendly in a children's book-y way. Here are a few great Katzen recipes: brussels sprouts with shallots and hazelnuts, Caramelized Balsamic-Red Onion Soup, and this Mushroom Popover Pie."—Erin Zimmer, National Managing Editor

Buy it on Amazon, around $12 »


All About Braising by Molly Stevens

20120425braisingbook.jpg"Sure, All About Braising is mostly All About Braising Big Hunks of Meat, but I'm drawn to its vegetable recipes most of all. Molly Stevens gives straightforward but consistently delicious techniques for humble veggies like cabbage (red and green), leeks (with bacon and thyme), radishes (a butter and chicken stock glaze) and the like. This book will put braising vegetables at the center of your culinary radar. It's certainly put them at the center of my dinner plate.—Max Falkowitz, SE: New York Editor

Buy it on Amazon, around $20 »


Essential Pépin by Jacques Pépin

20120425essentialpepin.jpg"Essential Pépin is far from a vegetarian cookbook—there's a whole section devoted to offal recipes—but Pepin has a way with vegetables, and most of the recipes in the book produce elegant results from simple techniques and ingredients. Sauteed Cauliflower with Bread Crumbs and Eggs comes out to equal much more than the sum of its parts, though there's not much to it beyond the title ingredients, while Tomatoes Provencal (halved tomatoes, seared cut side down, topped with parsley, garlic, and olive oil, then roasted until soft) is substantial enough for a main course. And those are just two of the many vegetable dishes in this career-spanning retrospective."—Ben Fishner, Support

Buy it on Amazon, around $26 »


Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka

20120425vegetablelove.jpgRoasting: A Simple Art, which mostly details how to cook huge hunks of meat, was the first Barbara Kafka book I owned. So, I was surprised when she came out with Vegetable Love, an almost encyclopedic tome about cooking just about every edible plant. But why I turn to it so much is that it's both practical and passionate. Basic cooking times are given for each vegetable, but often there are more in-depth and delicious recipes stuck in as well. Think of Kafka less as a dry historian trying to make you eat your veggies, and more of the grandma who magically makes everything taste better. Even if you think you don't like cauliflower, you owe to yourself to try this recipe for cauliflower, bacon, and mushrooms."—Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Editor and Dinner Tonight.

Add Your Favorites!

Where did you get your favorite vegetable recipes? Got veggie-friendly cookbooks to recommend?

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