Eat Your Greens

Veggie-phile cookbooks for carnivores and vegetarians alike

By Aida Mollenkamp

Label the way we eat all you want, but politics and ethics don’t have to divide those who eat meat from those who don’t. Everyone should give vegetables center stage now and then simply because, cooked up well, they’re delicious. Here are 10 cookbooks that aren’t all 100 percent meat free but do all celebrate veggies with recipes that would make most meat green with envy.

1. Moosewood Cookbook. Mollie Katzen redefined the way we eat when she opened Moosewood Restaurant in the ’70s. The cookbook that followed has become a kitchen classic, with recipes that span the globe, are simple to make, and use approachable language. The spinach-ricotta pie will quickly become a comfort standby.

2. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. No matter what kind of eater you are, Deborah Madison’s tome on vegetables will make you a better cook. Covering everything from kitchen basics to ingredient identification, it’s well organized, packed with fundamental knowledge (like how long to boil a potato), and includes recipes that range from delicious pancakes to a great escarole casserole.

3. Vegetable Love. Barbara Kafka’s books are chock-full of delicious recipes. In this latest collection, they range from simple preparations for more exotic ingredients, such as nettles with olive oil and lemon, to odd preparations for more quotidian vegetables, such as her liver and avocado sauté.

4. Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking. Yes, we love Madhur Jaffrey too, but she’s not the only good Indian cookbook author out there. Julie Sahni is just as worthy of attention. This, her second cookbook, was written more than 20 years ago, but it’s as relevant and fresh as ever. It explains the whats and hows of Indian ingredients and artfully spins them into delicious recipes.

5. Veganomicon. Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the queen bee of vegan cookbooks: She’s now written three filled with tasty-enough-to-entice-a-carnivore recipes. In her latest, cowritten with Terry Hope Romero, she includes appealing, down-home recipes such as moussaka, lemon coconut Bundt cake, and lentil soup.

6. Chez Panisse Vegetables. Covering about 40 vegetables in more than 250 recipes, this treatise by California-cooking champion Alice Waters is a keeper. Ringing with flavor combinations like asparagus and blood oranges, the food is fresh, healthy, and easy.

7. The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook. Organized by seasons, loaded with beautiful photos, and printed on paper stock reminiscent of children’s illustrated books, this tome is approachable and useful. While the book is not completely meat free, it always puts fresh produce at the forefront, whether it’s a highbrow recipe like roasted duck legs smothered with cherries or a straightforward one like green grapes with sour cream and brown sugar.

8. Super Natural Cooking. At first glance this colorful book by blog princess Heidi Swanson seems, well, girlie. But Swanson’s advice on things like building a natural pantry and eating more whole grains is anything but coquettish. The inspired recipes—such as seed-crusted amaranth biscuits and spiced caramel corn—are everything that contemporary, responsible cooking should be, and prove that natural doesn’t mean boring.

9. Grub. If you were to read and follow the advice in both Super Natural Cooking and Grub, you’d be well on your way to becoming a healthy, organically correct cook. Grub has sensible ideas for maintaining what its authors call an urban organic kitchen, as well as recipes that put their advice into practice.

10. Arabesque. As Americans have grown more enamored with spices during the past few years, people have been filling their cabinets with everything from North African Ras el Hanout to Lebanese Za’atar. Claudia Roden’s latest book explains what to do with all those spices, with approachable takes on traditional dishes from Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon.

Aida Mollenkamp is a former food editor at CHOW.

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