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Recommendation for vegetarian cookbook?

Hi --

I am looking to expand my repertory of vegetarian dishes, and would like to get some names of books that would help. But there's one caveat: So many vegetarian cookbooks I see are full of recipes for rice and noodles. I'm really looking for interesting ways to cook vegetables, not starches. Any thoughts?

Thank you.

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  1. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cookbook for Everyone is not my favorite cookbook, but she does provide a lot of vegetable recipes. I happen to like a couple of old ones: the Vegetarian Epicure and some of Mollie Katzin's recipies in the Moosewood series. Mark Bittman has a vegetarian cookbook that I can't vouch for, but I do love most of what he does.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      I'll vouch for Bitman ("How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"). The beauty of his book is that it's full of variations and re-combinations, not just set recipes.

      1. re: azveggieguy

        To the Bittman,which is excellent I would add give a look at two CIA texts that have been updated recently.VEGETABLES and GARDE MANGER
        and there is much to found in the MOOSEWOOD books,soups without the starch etc

    2. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was our Cookbook of the Month (COTM) during July 2008. Here's a link to our discussions and reports of recipes we made...

      This month, August 2011, we're cooking from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian which has over 630 different.recipes. Here's that link to discussions and reports...

      Finely, here's a link to a web site many of us belong to, Eat You Books. It is a place where we list the cookbooks we own and can search for a recipe we'd like to make given the ingredients we have on hand. There is a data base of library books constantly being updated and here's a link to that list. You can easily look through and see many books related to vegetables...

      1. I am enjoying World Vegetarian at the moment. If you are looking for creative vegetarian recipes which are a little bit different, take a look at Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, which was also Cookbook of the Month.

        2 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          Right... I forgot about Ottolenghi's Plenty. Wonderful meals from that book.


          1. re: greedygirl

            What do you recommend from world vegetarian?

          2. It's not exclusively vegetarian, but, whatever your feelings about Alice Waters, "Chez Panisse Vegetables" is one of my favorite vegetable cookbooks - it has good advice about choosing and storing vegetables. Many of the recipes are either vegetarian or vegan, or easily adaptable to be so. This is one of those rare cookbooks where I have actually cooked more than one or two recipes out of it.

            Not a fan at all of Deborah Madison's cookbooks.

            Despite being a vegetarian and mostly-vegan, I really have to say that you shouldn't limit yourself to vegetarian cookbooks to find good vegetarian recipes -- there are so many great recipes in standard cookbooks which are already vegetarian or easily adaptable. Also, there are tons of great recipes online - find a few web logs or recipe sites that you like, and poke around there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: will47

              +1 on the non-veg cookbooks. I get a lot of great ideas from ethnic cookbooks in particular. I love Indian and Thai food, which lend themselves particularly well to veg cooking, but almost any regional or country-specific book will have lots of options and ideas that are easily modified.

              Another one of my favorite books is "Olive Trees and Honey," a Jewish (mostly Sephardic) vegetarian book. Plenty of recipes from European/Mediterranean countries, but heavily weighed towards Middle Eastern, African (primarily Ethiopian) and Asian.

              1. re: herring

                I like Fuchsia Dunlop's cookbooks for Chinese food. The Hunan one especially does a good job of pointing out vegetarian modifications that can be made.

                Despite her insistence on authenticity and her fondness for lard, some of Diana Kennedy's cookbooks (Mexican cuisine) have some good vegetarian (or easily adaptable) recipes. I have to admit, I have yet to make a single recipe from Oaxaca Al Gusto, despite living in a city where I should be able to get some of the weird ingredients, but one of these days I will.

            2. Thanks to the good folks here I've found the cookbooks of Martha Rose Shulman and Marie Simmons. They both have an amazing way with vegetables and even if a particular recipe isn't strictly vegetarian it can be modified. I love Shulman's Mediterranean Harvest cook book and Mediterranean Light. From Simmons I love cooking from Fresh and Fast Vegetarian.

              1. Jack Bishop is one of my favorite vegetarian authors. I've cooked a lot from "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen". I very recently purchased "The Complete Italian Vegetarian" by him and have tried only one recipe so far. It was Zucchini Torta, Roasted, with Tomatoes and Mozzarella. It was so yummy! A friend is gluten intolerated and her former favorite food was lasagne. This was an excellent substitute! Everyone that tasted this dish absolutely loved it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: MMari

                  That Italian book is the BEST vegetarian cookbook I've ever come across.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Now I'm even more excited about cooking from it! After that first recipe AND your review, I'm really looking forward to the next recipe that I'll try.

                    I've been on a cookbook buying splurge lately and also purchased his "Pasta e Verdura" book. It has 140 vegetarian sauce recipes to serve over pasta and other noodles. It received excellent reviews, so I'm really looking forward to trying it, too.

                  2. re: MMari

                    I *love* A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. Can't recommend it highly enough. I don't have his Italian book, but just a few days ago picked up his Vegetables Every Day. I haven't cooked from it yet, but if you're looking for a book way heavier on the vegetables than the grains, etc, this is one of your best bets.

                    I do often turn do Bittman's HTCEV. I have Madison's Veg Cooking for Everyone, but haven't cooked from it. I'm not sure why, but it hasn't inspired me the way I thought it would. Others love it, though.

                  3. if you like soup, Anna Thomas' Love Soup is highly recommended. I love her writing and her recipes.

                    1. I will reiterate Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian". The main appeal of this book (aside from its immense size and comprehensiveness) is the number of combinations each recipe suggests. Most base recipes are then followed by something like 5 variations. There are also lots of helpful tables, detailed information about each vegetable, etc. It's a fantastic resource and serves as my go to, every day cookbook. I have a number of other vegetarian cookbooks, and I confess to being lazy and just using HTCEV most of the time.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tazia

                        I love Bittman's writing in the NYT (both opinion and when he did The Minimalist), and I do own How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I think the sections at the beginning of the book (on basics) are very helpful for someone who's new to cooking, and some of the other tables and general information are helpful.

                        However, I think the volume of recipes, with all the options given for each, can be a little overwhelming. Personally, I find it more dizzying than inspiring - it's good to give people tools / encouragement to improvise or play around with recipes, but when I go to a cookbook, I don't want to be given so many variations, especially when the cookbook already has 5 billion recipes in it.

                        1. re: tazia

                          If you use an iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, you can buy the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian app for $4.99. I don't find cooking from a little screen ideal, but these are such a deal (there's also one for the original HTCE) because they contain the ENTIRE contents (recipes and text) of the doorstop books for a fraction of the price, not to mention space, plus built-in timers, shopping lists, and other (regularly updated) features.


                        2. -I give a strong second to the books by Jack Bishop: Complete Italian Vegetarian (which goes way past pasta) & Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.
                          I find that most of his recipes are quick enough for weeknight cooking without being dumbed down or dull. I really get the sense that these are the foods that he feeds his family on a daily basis. You can't go wrong here.

                          -I also like Peter Berley & Melissa Clark's Fresh Food Fast. This is a seasonal cookbook where the recipes are presented together as meals. One of my favorite recipes here is the braised spring veggies over polenta, yum. (I am not as impressed with The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, I think Clark had a strong positive influence on Fresh Food Fast.)

                          -Fresh from the Farmers Market by Janet Fletcher is not completely vegetarian, but very vegetable focused. Helpful when you come home from the market with a bunch of whatever looked good and are trying to figure out how to use it. I have made the blackeyed peas recipe several times. It calls for some type of pork, but I just leave that out and put some smoked paprika in instead.

                          -Others gave ho-hum reviews, but I like Deborah Madison. I really enjoy Local Flavors. I also have the new edition of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I don't know how different it is from the original, so that might explain the mixed feelings.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: emoore

                            I have several Deborah Madison veg. cookbooks. They are just great. I've had them for years and learned of them through my sister who is a Zen Buddhist nun and worked at Tassajara as head of the kitchen. Tassajara is an amazing retreat in the hills east of Carmel and it is renowned for its veg food.

                            I find I use Madison's books regularaly and the results are almost always stellar. I can't remember the exact titles right now, but one is The Green's Cookbook (a veg restaurants in SF). There are a couple of others in this series which came out many years ago.

                            1. re: oakjoan

                              Laurel's Kitchen, The Moosewood Series/Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Greens by Deborah Madison. And while dated and not strictly vegetarian, the Silver Palate cookbooks had wonderful vegetable recipes, especially the later editions.

                              1. re: mamachef

                                I am not a vegetarian but I used to cook for a friend who is. Laurel's Kitchen and Moosewood recipes (from the first edition, not the "updated" ones) were consistent favorites.

                          2. here is a NEW book:
                            by Lukas Volger (author of The Veggie Burger cookbook) there is a new "Vegetarian Entrees" book, full of great recipies, such as a pasta-less vegetarian lasagna and many oriental-inspired dishes. One tip: add more of your favourite spices.,,,,

                            1. Echo everyone below - Plenty is a wonderful book. Another current favourite of mine is River Cottage Veg

                              1. Moosewood's Simple Suppers is one I'm glad I held onto, and a veg friend has the Bittman one everyone's touting. It seems really good to me, equal to the omnivore HTCE that I own.

                                1. I've been reading Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World by Gil Marks recently. I've been enjoying as a history nerd, but it's also got plenty of mouth-watering dishes, and a pretty good selection of recipes. It goes into the history of the ingredients, and talks a bit about how some of them were used much more heavily by the Jewish communities as a result of the need for kosher dishes and economic necessity.

                                  You might also want to look into South Indian cooking (I'm not sure which cookbooks cover this, but there are certainly some very good South Indian food bloggers) because it tends not to have much meat in it (India has a lot of vegetarians), and the starch is on the side. So, most of the recipes involve a lot of vegetables and dals, to be served with rice or flatbread.

                                  Far east Asian cooking could also be a good inspiration, because while they use meat much more than India does, it tends to be a condiment, not a focus, so the meat can usually just be omitted, or substituted with mushrooms or eggplant.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: celesul

                                    I mentioned Olive Trees and Honey upthread -- it's really becoming one of my favorites! And you're right, it's also just a great read. Your south Indian cooking idea very good.

                                  2. Check out Fuchsia Dunlop's new one - Every Grain of Rice.

                                    Some new information in

                                    1. Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. I'm not even vegetarian and I'm constantly cooking up his Mediterranean vegetarian dishes.