Perhaps you’re like me. Cookbooks some piled high, and some scattered like they were in the palm of my hand and I blew them around the room, and where they land, they shall stay for eternity/until I get told off. Below are my top 10 vegetarian cookbooks, that I have had to scoop off the floor, behind the curtain, etc. Enjoy.
Cooking Italian food is an absolute joy to me, so when I stumbled upon this book in a farm shop, I knew I needed it – even though it was wrapped and there was no telling what was inside. As I sat in the car after my purchase, I felt like I was opening a gift from a friend, and I knew straight away this book deserves time and understanding. Originally published in Italian as Ricette vegeteriane d’Italia, this wonderful book is packed with regional recipes. Four-hundred to be exact. It also lists vegetarian products by region, like the Altino sweet pepper from Abruzzo, the Vessalico garlic from Liguria, and the Trevi black celery from Umbria, and so forth.
Slow Food, a global grassroots organisation, founded to prevent the disappearance of local food, cultures and traditions have collected all the recipes in this book which include the Italian names of the dishes, as well as the contributor, either a restaurant, home cook or chef.
Favourite recipe: Malga Cheese & Green Tarlets (Tortino di formaggio di malga ed erbette). Page 312.
2. Naturally Nourished
This is admittedly one of those books that gets left on the shelf for ages, unflicked through and seemingly unloved. But then, on a lazy Sunday afternoon when I feel the need to surround myself with all my cookbooks, in the form of a small fort on the floor, as I sit queenly among them, I pick it up. With the first few page flicks of Naturally Nourished, I remember why I like it so much.
Author Sarah Britton uses simple, everyday ingredients and clear instructions to make vibrant and colourful food that you’ll actually want to try. The recipes are laid out in a loosely seasonal style, starting with spring.
Favourite recipe: Coconut Zinger Black Bean Soup. Page 37.
3. Greenfeast – Spring/Summer
As he creeps into my perfect neighbour category, who doesn’t love the pureness and joy that is Nigel Slater? Greenfeast comes in two editions – Spring/Summer, and Autumn/Winter. I have chosen the previous simply because summer is my favourite season. Relaxing and feeling the warm sun on my skin, Nigel shouting if I’d like something to eat, over the fence. That’s this book.
In this season, eating light and simple food is standard, and this book showcases this in its glory, and I’m drawn into every dish. The small size and feel of the book is beautiful, with brushstrokes by Tom Kemp dancing throughout, and the instructions and writing uncomplicated. And that excites me about Greenfeast, I want to make every single recipe.
Move over Julie & Julia, this is all about Sonia & Nigel.
Favourite recipe: fig, goats cheese, honey. Page 276.
3. The Green Roasting Tin
Following on from the green theme is The Green Roasting Tin, where Rukmini Iyer’s recipes are all simply done in the oven in one tin. I find this ideal for weeknight inspiration, especially when I have a small number of random ingredients, and my energy levels channel the running my finger around a jar of Nutella which would otherwise suffice as dinner.
In the middle of the book is a few pages that help guide your tin, with beautifully illustrated examples, of how you can make a tin work for you, using what you have, which ties in with my midweek conundrums. This book is also sectioned out usefully into vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Favourite recipe: Gado Gado – Indonesian salad with warm potatoes, green beans, beansprouts & peanut coconut dressing. Page 94.
5. Delia’s Vegetarian Collection
What can I say about this book? It’s been on my shelf for eighteen long years, and like a trusted old friend it’s been with me for almost half of my life, through thick and thin.
With over 250 classic vegetarian recipes, you will find something in here you’ll love – no ifs, no buts. In her descriptions and practical and clear instructions, I hear her voice calmly guiding me as I read in my head. Also, it’s important to point out, there’s a whole chapter on cheese recipes. Cheese.
Favourite recipe: Asparagus & Gruyère Feuilletés. Page 147.
6. India – The World Vegetarian
One of my latest cookbooks is this one by the wonderful Roopa Gulati. With India being the vegetarian capital of the world, there is a huge number of books in the market celebrating Indian vegetarian food. As I already have a few, I almost didn’t buy this one, but I’m so pleased I did.
The book begins with an introduction to regional cooking, then has a collection of small plates (always my favourite way of eating), large plates, followed by bread and relishes, and all accompanied by stunning photos by David Loftus. It makes me want to immediately host a dinner party.
Favourite recipe: Southern-style Mango Curry. Page 98.
As the helicopter landed, the door opened and surprise guest Yotum Ottolenghi emerged, the contestants of MasterChef Australia screamed with excitement. As did I, quite wildly at the TV. We can all agree, I’m a fan, so I don’t know why I was a little late buying this book. OK eight years late. But the important thing is, I’m here now, and I’m here in a big way.
I’m going to start by talking about the photos in this book which will make you drool all over your shirt. The beautiful close-up shots, like the old seductive M&S food advert can literally make your mouth water. Each recipe revolves around one ingredient, for example the mighty aubergine and courgettes and other squashes, which he then makes into a delicious dish.
“Nowadays, the most creative chefs are working solely with vegetables…” – Y.O.
Favourite recipe: Surprise Tatin. Page 22.
Let’s take a stroll through a busy Middle Eastern market, and see what delights await us. That’s where Sabrina Ghayour’s book guides us, through beautiful spices and flavours, through colours and wonderment. I am on an adventure. This is one of my favourite cookbooks as the food just sings to me.
My style of eating would be so suited to the chapter light bites & sharing plates, but I fall in love with so many recipes throughout this book. I would be hard to give one favourite recipe, but alas I have gone for a simple one, but so simple I was surprised by the effect it had on me. It was just parsnips after all…. or is it?
Favorite recipe: Roasted Parsnips. Page 177.
9. The Veggie Chinese Takeaway Cookbook
My first memory of any takeaways was at Beijing Rendezvous in early 90s, Peterborough. My dad and I would go to the restaurant, and I’d order myself a chow-mein and look out for my first crush, a waiter there. Whenever he smiled and said hello, I’d totally ignore him like a weirdo, sheepishly take the food and run like the wind out of the door, to give the impression that I was a spectacularly busy and important 12 year old.
From then to now, Chinese takeaways have always been a favourite of mine, so I was delighted to come across The Veggie Chinese Takeaway Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan. As well as menu ideas, the recipes mostly all include a vegan alternative/option if possible.
Favourite recipe: Hong Kong Crispy Noodles with Mixed Vegetables. Page 110.
Love or hate Jamie Oliver, his recipes are pretty pukka, and from veggie fans to meat-eaters, there’s something that everyone will like in his book VEG. Every recipe has a photo, nutritional value (soo Jamie) and little tips at the end of each one.
The variety of the dishes are broad, and there’s a number of chapters to reflect this. At the end of the book, there’s a section about hints and tips, and also a chapter from his nutritional team.
Favourite recipe: Silky courgette bow-ties. Page 144.
So there you have my top 10 vegetarian cookbooks. I’d really like more to clutter my house with, vegetarian or otherwise, so please do let me know your favourite…