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Vegetable cookbook recommendation

  • j

My daughter shops at the Brooklyn farmer's market and wants a vegetable cookbook. She's not vegetarian (or a great cook) and I think she just wants a simple cookbook about how to prepare the bounty she finds at the market. Seems like a lot of recs for Deborah Madison's books. Also been looking at Annie Somerville's books. Suggestions for what would be best for my daughter. Thanks.

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  1. Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" is a good one. It's not decidedly bent towards vegetarians as the title suggests, but is a good basic cookbook on vegetable cooking, with many interesting variations.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bacardi1

      "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" is my bible. Like poster below, I'm not wild about Deborah Madison's books. Ottolenghi "Plenty" is quite good. Interesting recipes and very good at using seasonal produce, and lovely pictures which always help.

      1. re: relizabeth

        HTCEV is a great book and has a permanent spot on my counter. I like that the book is organized by vegetables, grains, legumes, etc...

        There's so many variations of each dish and many preparations for every vegetable. I like that its easy to create a full meal from the book.

        1. re: cheesecake17

          Another yea for Bittman. But you might consider his "How to Cook Everything," an all-purpose cookbook with a great many vegetable recipes that are the basis of HTCEV, but meat and dairy too.

          Two great things about Bittman's books. First, he doesn't leave out any of the details and you never have to guess what to do. Second, he suggests lots of variations on basic recipes - a dozen things to add to peas, from mint to miso - which not only provide variety but encourage the cook to make her own variations.

          I'm not a fan of Deborah Madison's book - it keeps calling for ingredients that I can't conveniently get.

      2. re: Bacardi1

        I also agree with Bittman. I have a few veg buddies, so its been a staple in our house.

      3. Fast, Fresh and Green by Susie Middleton

        It's pretty straighforward and is separated into sections of the ways to cook vegetables and then has specific recipes.

        It would be really good for someone looking to start but still want some fancy things.

        1. Even as a longtime vegetarian, I've never been a big fan of Deborah Madison's cookbooks for some reason.

          As mentioned in some other threads, I really love the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook by Alice Waters. It's a great general purpose vegetable (not vegetarian) cookbook, with some great guidance on choosing vegetables.

          1. Jack Bishop's book on cooking vegetables is wonderfully simple. The book is organized alphabetically. For each vegetable he gives info on storage and basic preps, as well as a few good recipes.

            Also: Check out this link for "veggie tip sheets." With this link you may not even need a book! These sheets are intended for CSA's to distribute with the shares and give the basic info for every vegetable:

            (If the link doesn't work, go to www.sunsetparkcsa.org, click on "resources," and then click on "veggie tip sheets"

            1 Reply
            1. re: alc

              This might be all she needs!

            2. To the Mark Bittman I would add

              James Peterson http://www.jimcooks.com click on vegetable page

              I think both are excellent cook books,not just vegetarian for the sake of vegetarian

              1. Marian Morash's Victory Garden Cookbook (and the second volume that includes fish) and/or Elizabeth Schneider's Vegetables A to Z

                3 Replies
                1. re: sr44

                  Ditto to both Marian Morash books. Have them both & they're excellent.

                  1. re: sr44

                    I've had victory garden for more years than i can count.. when i see it in a used book store i'm always baffled: HOW can you cook without it around? still one of the best reference books i have. (and the refrigerator pickles are great!)

                    1. re: rmarisco

                      Just picked up a copy a few days ago at a used book store. It's great.

                  2. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas.

                    1. Another vote for Deborah Madison (too bad her new one, Vegetable Literacy, won't be out until spring). Although I am a vegetarian, I find her main influence on me has been the seasonal eating aspect. If I could only have one book, it would be Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone--it is that comprehensive, with a lot more than vegetables if your daughter is looking to learn basics. Much of it can easily accompany meat.

                      I also like Susie Middleton's books. Very basic, but solid.

                      Tender by Nigel Slater gets raves.

                      1. I am not a vegetarian but Madison's Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone is one of my most used cookbooks.

                        My other favorite is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Madison's book is more to my liking. Bittman seems to try too hard, frequently offering three or more variations of a dish, like make it Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean/Japanese by varying a few ingredients. I haven't always enjoyed the variations.

                        I would say that Madison's philosophy seems to be simple recipes that highlight the basic aspect of the ingredients. It works well given good quality ingredients. I've cooked out of the book a lot, and have not found any difficult recipes. I think it is a good book for someone who wants to know how to do simple but good treatments for farmers market produce.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                          That's really my gripe with HTCE and HTCEV (for me, personally, anyway). I don't want someone to enumerate all possible variations. I want them to give me the best variation, and trust that I can figure out how to modify on my own. I find all the options presented to be a little overwhelming, especially when they're in a book that already has so many recipes.

                          But I think it's a great thing for someone who needs "permission" (or inspiration) from a cookbook author in order to vary things up.

                          I love Bittman's recipes and videos on the NYT (as the Minimalist, and post-Minimalist), as well as his writing about food policy. I think he's done a great job of stating some important truths about our food system, but in a way that doesn't alienate people too much.

                        2. How about Alice Waters' "Chez Panisse Vegetables"?

                          2 Replies
                          1. --Cooking from the Farmers' Market by Jodi Liano, Tasha DeSerio and Jennifer Maiser
                            --Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann
                            --A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First family to Your Family
                            --Serving Up the Harvest: Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables by Andrea Chesman
                            --Simply In Season Expanded Edition (World Community Cookbook) by Cathleen Hockman-Wert and Mary Beth Lind
                            --Laurel's Kitchen by Laurel Robertson
                            --Moosewood by Mollie Katzen
                            --Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen
                            --Any number of the Moosewood Restaurant's several books (Cooks at Home, Lowfat Favorites, New Classics, Sundays at Moosewood, etc.)
                            --American Wholefoods Cusine by Nikki and David Goldbeck
                            --Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe
                            --Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe
                            --Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry

                            1. try
                              Knives over Forks - they have a couple of very good vegan cookbooks
                              'whole food plant based diet'

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: eatinman

                                I have the Forks Over Knives cookbook released this Summer and am more than happy with it [even as a non-vegan].

                              2. I don't recommend Deborah Madison's books (at least not the one I have--Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) for inexperienced cooks. The book has great ideas, but isn't very well tested, and lots of the recipes really need tweeking in my opinion. If she hasn't cooked much, she might not know when she needs to make changes...

                                For beginners, I really like Viana La Place's "Verdura" for Italian vegetable dishes. I always get good results from this book.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Hadil100

                                  That's funny, I have cooked a lot from Madison's Veg Cooking for Everyone and find that on most recipes I don't have to do much tweaking. My palate must be quite similar to hers, and different from yours!

                                  The only exception I've found is that she always wants her soups brothier than I do. I usually add about half the amount of whatever liquid her recipe calls for.

                                  1. re: chompy

                                    Weird! But I guess it is such a huge book, it is bound to have some great and some not so great recipes.

                                2. Fresh Foods Fast by Peter Berley is great.

                                  Berley writes a great cookbook. Recipes are organized seasonally by what is available, each recipe has a shopping list, and can be made in about 1/2 an hour.

                                  The focus is on using fresh foods, cooked quickly and simply, with very delicious results. When I have time to cook, I usually pull this one out.

                                  1. Some excellent books originally published in the UK (all should be available on Amazon):

                                    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (sp?) - River Cottage Veg Every Day
                                    Nigel Slater - Tender Vol 1
                                    Yotam Ottolenghi - Plenty

                                    Love Bittman
                                    Love Madison & Somerville

                                    1. I have about 6 of Moosewood restaurant cookbooks and enjoy them all

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Matash

                                        Another vote for Moosewood. my favorite is Sundays at Moosewood.

                                        Crecent Dragaonwagon's books never disappoint.

                                        Tassejara is quite good.

                                        The Vegetarian option is excellent, but honestly not used that often.

                                      2. Vegetable cookbooks in my collection that I like and cook from frequently:

                                        Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World by Madhur Jaffrey

                                        Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes for Everyone from the World's Healthiest Cuisine by Martha Rose Shulman

                                        Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

                                        Tender, Volume I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater

                                        Vegetable Love: Vegetables Delicious, Alone with Pasta, Seafood, Poultry, Meat and More by Barbara Kafka and Christopher Styler

                                        The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson

                                        The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between
                                        by Peter Berley

                                        Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison

                                        The Savory Way: High Spirited Down-To-Earth Recipes for Savory Vegetable Dishes by Deborah Madison

                                        *** Either the Jaffrey book or Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman would be my choice for your daughter. Both have recipes that are easy to follow, prep and cook. The added attraction is that they produce dishes that are quite delicious. The other books although excellent in their own right, require more patience and experience, IMO.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Gio

                                          I have Plenty and Vegetable Love.
                                          This week I received a copy of Roots.

                                          At the market today I bought young kale and fennel.

                                          I am not vegetarian but I am going to enjoy making lots of veggies from these books.

                                          I think I am going to compare these 3 books.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            I have Vegetable Love, Gio. I've cooked a couple of things from it, but nothing that I particularly remember. Do you have any favorites to recommend from it?

                                            I also love Berley's flex table, though it's not strictly vegetarian.


                                            1. re: Gio

                                              YES! Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian is my all time favorite (as a white suburban American who prefers "international" flavors). And Jaffrey's recipes work, have not found a bummer yet. Second to Bittman for size and utility though I find his spicing too mild. I also have Deborah Madison's book and just don't use it that often.