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Favorite Veg Cookbook?

It doesn't necessarily have to be entitled "Vegetarian" but if you had to name one or two that you reach for most, what would they be? Any Cooks Illustrated you'd recommend?

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  1. You should search the boards for this topic; it's a recurring one, and a lot of people may not bother responding with repeat answers.

    My favorite vegetable-based cookbook is an oldie but goodie: the Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash (1982) (Marian had a highly regarded restaurant on Nantucket in the 1980s). It includes meat, but is remains the best thought-out and informative American cookbook organized around vegetables for the home cook. James Peterson's book, Vegetables, might be considered a more professional book (anything he writes is worth checking out).

    Next favorite: Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka

    Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook will garner the usual fanfare, as do the books by Deborah Madison. I am not as much of a fan of the much-loved Moosewood Cafe series as others are.

    And, even though I am a CI subscriber and own some of their cookbooks, I would say CI's weak point is vegetables - their repertoire is fairly narrow and underdeveloped. I've written to them about that problem.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Karl S

      I second Karl's recommendation of The Victory Garden Cookbook, particularly if you're looking for vegetable preparations and recipes (as opposed to "vegetarian" recipes). I've had this cookbook since it was published and have used it constantly since then.

      1. re: janniecooks

        I'll third the VGC. It's always on my list of the top ten cookbooks to begin any collection. Plus I worked for her many moons ago.

    2. I am a big fan of Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a sort of "Joy of Cooking" with a vegetarian focus. Other favorites of mine include Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen (some rather innovative recipes in there) and Myra Goldman's The Voluptuous Vegan (one of my favorite cookbook covers ever--and it's not even a gorgeous food photo!) Be forewarned--the Goldman cookbook is NOT for your 30-minute meals types. It's definitely got some rather complicated, but good, recipes. I think these 3 are my favorites, though I love reading any Isa Chandra Moskowitz titles (Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance)--they're funny and far removed from the overly precious or overly serious writing that one sees a bit too often in cookbooks.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nofunlatte

        I'm gonna have to disagree with the kudos to "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," which I find way too rudimentary for most cooks. There's only so many ways you can tell people to blanch vegetables then finish them in butter. And it also has a disconcerting, haughty tone that I find patronizing.

        However, "The Greens Cookbook" and especially "The Savory Way" were my bibles during my 17 years of following the vegetarian cult, er, lifestyle. In fact, I'd say "The Savory Way" is the book I consult most after "Joy" and "How To Cook Everything." It has show-stopper after show-stopper. I've never cooked a dud out of it.

        1. re: dmd_kc

          My problem with Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is how badly edited it is. A seasoned cook can usually figure out where the mistakes are and work out the recipe, but I would never give it to someone just learning to cook. That said, I use it fairly often and enjoy the recipes.

          Flexitarian Table isn't strictly veg. (he gives you a recipe for a meat eater, and then another for a veg that can be made together) but it is really wonderful and worth a look.

          1. re: dmd_kc

            Yes, Madison's books are not my favorites (but I acknowledged they are of others).

        2. Anything by Deborah Madison.

          1. ExtraVeganZa by Laura Matthias, Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure and Sort-Cut Vegetarian by Lorna Sass to name a few. Lots more if you're interested.

            1. The Rebar Modern Food Cookbook. It does not contain a single miss- every recipe is amazing. They range from super-simple to quite complex. Standouts include Painted Dessert Salad (leafy greens, roasted peppers, smoked cheddar, avocado and pinenuts with a smoky chipotle vinaigrette), Greek Red Lentil Soup (with lemon, feta and rosemary) and the Rebar Appetizer (crostini with cashew-ginger hummous, tomato-ginger chutney and roasted garlic).

              1. i'm gonna mention madhur jaffrey's older title, world vegetarian. too often overlooked, and excellent.

                1 Reply
                1. re: soupkitten

                  +1 on madhur jaffrey. Also her World of the East vegetarian cooking. Both these books are very good.

                2. Another option, 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles, basic, solid recipes, vegetables, grains, breads, desserts, ethnic cuisines, with just a hint of tofu and seitan thrown in to warrant the title. I use it for the veggies, beans and grains.
                  Anything Deborah Madison, although I think Greens and The Savory Way is a bit 90's and outdated, food-wise, and of course, the great Victory Garden coobook, which will never go out of style.

                  1. I do have a favorite vegetarian cookbook but it’s rare and wretchedly expensive these days and when I give you the title you’ll think I’m outta my mind: The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. This is *not* the cookbook by Diana Shaw. The ISBN is 1 55110 752 X This cookbook covers everything, and has conversions for everything (an example,”Preheat oven to moderately hot 200 C (400F/Gas 6)). It has pictures of most dishes and step-by-step pictures for processes like pitting an avocado or preparing snow peas. This is a cookbook I treasure beyond compare.

                    My second fave is Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. This cookbook is wonderfully versatile and hefty (1100+ pages). I’d buy this cookbook again, just for the chapters on soups and stews.

                    Other honorable mentions sitting on the vegetarian shelf of my cookbook library…
                    The Greens Cookbook Deborah Madison with Edward Espe Brown
                    Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan
                    And this will surprise you but it’s actually a really good cookbook: Babe's Country Cookbook : 80 Complete Meat-Free Recipes from the Farm by Dewey Gram. Sure it features fictional characters and it’s cutesy as all getout. Nevertheless, the recipes are solid, easy and delicious. Kelly Sims’ Roasted Garlic Soup is simply wonderful. It’s nice to not have a fictional animal begging me to eat them (a thing that has always freaked me out. In my opinion Charlie the tuna needs a good psychiatrist).

                    Stuck indoors this weekend it’s been fun rooting around my cookbooks looking for something entertaining to make. I reacquainted myself with each book recommended above and now I have a nice list of things to make.

                    1. Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" has an enormous number of recipes, and the ones I've tried have turned out well. If you're browsing in a bookstore, have a look at "Anything-Scented Peas" which is typical of his method: first the basics, then 11 variations ranging from herbs to fermented black beans or miso paste.

                      1. The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by CI editor Jack Bishop -- it's a 1997 copyright, but I keep coming back to it.

                        1. The Joy of Vegan Baking, Vegetarian Sushi, The Moosewood Cookbook, and Lydia's Italy t.v. show- she prepares a lot of good vegetable, fish, and bean dishes.