Once a marginalized subset of our food culture, vegetarian cuisine is now mainstream. There are a huge number of cookbooks and websites that focus on vegetarian and vegan cooking, and a lot of them are incredibly successful. I grew up in India where more than half the population is vegetarian, and so I was raised with a healthy appreciation for vegetarian cooking.
But then I married a pesco-vegetarian and am now raising a (picky) pure vegetarian child. I have come to need more resources for dinner, and to develop a more in-depth understanding of vegetarian cooking. Here are some of the cookbooks on which I've come to rely to feed my vegetarian family every day.
Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
This is one of my absolute go-to resources. I don't always recognize all the vegetables that we get here in Canada, and when I see an unusual one, I immediately refer to this almost encyclopedic book so I know what I want to do with it. What I love about this book is how Madison explores the relationships between edible plants and flowers and how it affects your cooking style.
The recipes are both simple and elegant. You can very easily serve many of them for family dinners, as well as for dinner parties, and your guests will not miss the meat at all. Some of my my personal favorites are the eggplant tartines (we love eggplant in my family), rice with spinach and pistachios (an easy and nutritious side dish), and parsnip and carrot puree (we always grow these vegetables, and this is a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes).
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Every vegetarian (and every omnivore, too!) should have this book in their collection. Written by the culinary giant Mark Bittman, this book covers everything you need to know about vegetarian cooking. I grab this book when I am looking for ideas on how to jazz up everyday food, and I especially like his variations on basic recipes.
I've made his Cheese "Burger" more times than I can remember, adding my own touch every time. His vegetable stocks are always in my freezer and I use them for everything from soups to risottos. Combined with How to Cook Everything, this book is indispensable for all home cooks.
Plenty and Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
Everyone who knows me knows I am an Ottolenghi fangirl. I've been following his vegetarian recipes in the Guardian ever since I lived in the UK, and you can imagine that I was delighted when Plenty arrived. The paella from Plenty is my standby for everything from easy suppers to camping dinners.
The best part about his recipes is that you can cook completely seasonally. I love his innovative take on flavors and his combinations of ingredients.
Plenty More has just been released and I have already bookmarked tons of recipes that I can't wait to make, and I know they are going to be brilliant.
Moosewood Restaurant Favorites by The Moosewood Collective
I originally found this book in my local library when I was browsing and the cover photos enticed me in. I was intrigued enough to order my own copy, and I have never regretted it one moment. The Moosewood Collective is over forty years old, but their recipes are timeless. This book is a collection of their favorites, and it doesn't disappoint.
I love the desserts in this collection. Their carrot cake recipe is one of my standby recipes.
A note though, this is not a fully vegetarian cookbook as they do include fish recipes. But if you like bold flavors, this and the other books in their collection are for you.
Market Vegetarian by Ross Dobson
I always like to include a non-famous book in my roundups and for this one, my pick is this gorgeous book from Sydney chef Ross Dobson. I won this book, and it's been one of the best prizes I've ever won. This is easily one of the best vegetarian cookbooks I own, even though it's not from a well-known personality.
The first thing I do when I get back from the farmer's market is look through this book for ideas on what to do with my haul. His great northern bean hotpot is a family favorite and when I want to go fancy, his mushroom lasagna with fontina is a gourmet delight. His pizza ideas are in my everyday rotation. The best part about this book is that even beginner cooks can make all of his recipes — it is completely non-intimidating.
Those are my top picks for vegetarian cookbooks! What are your favorites?
A Few Honorable Mentions:
- Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffery
- The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon
- Flex Appeal: A Vegetarian Cookbook for Families with Meat-Eaters by Pat Crocker and Nettie Cronish
- Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero