Many vegetarians love to collect cookbooks. Maybe it’s because so many vegetarians are converts–meat eaters at one time, they have made the transition to a meat-free diet with the help of experimentation and cookbooks.
Over time you will likely build a full library of cookbooks, and you will find that different cookbooks are useful for different occasions. This list has been devised to cover a range of cookbooks useful for a variety of occasions.
These cookbooks are meant to provide a starting point for your vegetarian cooking library. As you become more aware of your own tastes, you’ll find more cookbooks that are helpful for you. Make a point of browsing the cookbooks at bookstores, or check out cookbooks from your local library. Make a note of the qualities you like in your current cookbooks and look for those qualities as you think of buying more.
Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, Deborah Madison
Deborah Madison’s enormous, 700+ page volume of vegetarian dishes is a comprehensive, indispensable cookbook of vegetarian cooking. This text includes a lengthy explanation in the front describing essential information like how to create a nutritious vegetarian diet, what wine to pair with what vegetables, how to make a vegetarian menu for the holidays, lengthy descriptions of seasonings and spices, how to use a knife appropriately and basic cooking methods.
This book also includes a recipe for just about everything you could ever want to make, and a lot of things that no one ever thinks to make–like mayonnaise, flavored butters, dressings and different types of vegetable stocks. Madison’s book is intelligently laid out, with tips and facts printed in the margins next to the recipes. The pages are sturdy and not glossy, for easy note taking.
It’s hard to imagine that there are recipes that aren’t in this book, yet many of the recipes are so basic and simple they’re almost obvious. The text is very long, and most pages have two or more recipes on them. The recipe directions are usually astonishingly simple, described in only one or two paragraphs, and with clear and concise language. Beginner chefs will appreciate the notably uncomplicated nature of most of these recipes.
There are only a few downsides to this book. If you’re the type of person who likes to see a lot of pictures in your cookbooks, this book has very few and they’re almost vintage-looking, as if these photographs were taken in the 1970’s.
Some cooks might complain that this book has too much information. Looking inside, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of recipes. Although there are recipes for all tastes and all occasions, you may find it difficult to choose between the recipes, especially because Madison does such a great job of making each recipe sound delicious and easy to prepare.
What’s Cooking Vegetarian, Jenny Stacey
This is a good, solid cookbook. It’s just what you need to round out your regular repertoire of regular recipes. There is a dessert section in the back and appetizer section at the front, and a wide range of delicious entrees in the middle. This book is full of recipes that will easily become family favorites–including many basics like pizza, refried beans, enchiladas and pasta dishes.
The pictures are full color and give you a good idea about what to expect from the finished product. The directions are well presented and easy to follow. You will, over time, naturally make some changes to some of the recipes as you decide what works for you, but each recipe will serve as an excellent starting point.
The Best of the Kitchen Library, Vegetarian, Williams Sonoma
This attractive and well made book has a plethora of useful, every day recipes, but with extra flair–like the olive oil mashed potatoes and the spicey grilled eggplant. Many of these recipes are excellent for daily use and can easily become family favorites. Although you won’t find yourself using every recipe, this book will broaden your horizons and can also serve as an introduction to some ethnic cuisines like middle eastern and mexican dishes.
This volume also includes some not-so-everyday recipes that are perfect for special occasions–like sweet potato pudding, zucchini frittata, and the wild rice and blue cheese skillet souffle. The attractive pictures make every recipe look enticing and delicious while also providing creative ideas for presentation. Although it is meant to be a vegetarian cookbook, many of these recipes are also vegan or easily made vegan. Many of the recipes are made from ingredients that every kitchen will have on hand, which means you won’t be running to the grocery store just to prepare a dish.
Fresh and Simple Vegetable Dinners, Better Homes And Gardens
The biggest advantage of this Better Homes and Gardens’ compact vegetarian cookbook is that the recipes can be prepared quickly and without much difficulty. This book is less than 100 pages long, with only one recipe per page, leaving wide margins and a lot of space to write notes or changes to the recipes. Many recipes are accompanied by a full-page color photograph. Because many of these recipes are time savers and because the number of recipes are limited, you won’t find yourself flipping the pages endlessly, overwhelmed by the number of options available to you. This book is especially helpful for those who have a limited amount of time, as most of the recipes are designed to be prepared in under 45 minutes. The amount of time that each recipe should take is presented at the the top of each recipe.
Some users might complain that the ingredients in some of these recipes aren’t the kind of thing that one typically keeps around the kitchen. However, over time you might find yourself keeping more of these items on hand as you begin to develop a love for these easy to prepare, creative recipes.