Who's the Jamie Oliver of vegetarian cooking?
January 16, 2013 3:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm well aware that this opinion is not shared by everyone, but I really like Jamie Oliver's style of cooking (and, I confess, presentation on tv): simple ingredients (but the best you can get), big flavours, lots of fresh herbs, very informal. The thing is, he's not that big on vegetarian recipes, and I'm making an effort to *not* eat meat 3 or 4 times a week, so could you recommend a vegetarian Jamie Oliver please? Note: I googled this phrase and google came up with Simon Rimmer, but I was kind of underwhelmed.
posted by Skyanth to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has a fairly informal style, and one of his most recent TV series/books is called "Veg Every Day", where he concentrates on making vegetarian dishes.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yotam Ottolenghi. He does cook meat too, but his book Plenty is vegetarian. And an extremely fine cookbook.

It also won the Observer Food Monthly's award for the best cookbook of 2011 [review].

It is a little more involved than Jamie Oliver's recipes but fresh, tasty and innovative.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:18 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]

Definitely Ottolenghi-- he's done a lot of interesting vegetarian recipes for the Guardian over the last few years that you might be interested in. (They're definitely not all vegetarian, though he usually pairs one veg and one not, and I believe many of the earlier recipes were all vegetarian.) His newest cookbook Jerusalem is supposed to be really great.

Smitten Kitchen also has a number of good vegetarian recipes and her cooking style is much more informal; I made these last week [with a pomegranate molasses dipping sauce and more garlic] and they are AMAZING.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian might work for you.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nigel Slater's been making an effort to do less-meat cooking and has a vegetable book, Tender, that's full of throw-together big-flavour stuff (he's also fun to watch on tv!). Seconding Plenty, though I confess I hardly ever actually use it to cook from.. it's inspiring but a bit more 'event cooking'.

Also inspiring is Wild Garlic, Gooseberries.. and Me, by Dennis Cotter who runs a famous veggie place in Ireland. It's one of those cookbooks that you read almost more than cook from, with long essays on various ingredients.. his recipes are full of flavour but I tend to drastically simplify them for home cooking. Possibly even better is his new For the Love of Food, haven't read it but might have to pick it up now.

Not so much a 'personality', not all-vegetagrian, and denser still, but I really want to recommend A New Way To Cook for less-meat cooking ideas. It's ostensibly a low-fat book but I just love the improvisational, fresh approach to food and the cheerful can-do writing. It goes deeply into how to use ingredients and the sections on vegetables, grains, and pastas are much bigger than the meat ones. It changed the way I cook.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:56 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Adding Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall into the mix. Although a noted carnivore, raising and slaughtering his own livestock, he recently had a TV show and a book that were exclusively veggie.
posted by essexjan at 4:54 AM on January 16, 2013

Donal Skehan - he's not full on vegetarian, but the majority of his amazing main meal dishes seem to be. I'm now considering veggie-ness because of how easy he makes it. Easy peasy to make, few ingredients, massive flavours, loads of substitution suggestions. Two of my favourites - Lemony broccoli-y goats cheesy pasta of joy and Gnocchi of win.
posted by f3l1x at 5:47 AM on January 16, 2013

Yotam Ottolenghi is a great cook but his recipes are much more involved than Jamie Oliver. In terms of ingredients, processes and precision it is a step up so I wouldn't recommend him unless you are comfortable with more complex cooking. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's new book is a much better match in terms of style.
posted by ninebelow at 5:52 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might like Bryant Terry.
posted by box at 6:04 AM on January 16, 2013

Isa Chandra Moskowitz does great stuff, although all vegan.
posted by orme at 6:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I love Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends. The recipes are uncomplicated, and since he's a member of the America's Test Kitchen team I'm pretty confident about trying new recipes.

It looks like Amazon has a few other highly-rated books by him, too:

The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook: 350 Essential Recipes for Inspired Everyday Eating

Vegetables Every Day: The Definitive Guide to Buying and Cooking Today's Produce With More Than 350 Recipes
posted by Room 641-A at 6:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Heidi Swanson over at 101 Cookbooks

The cookbooks she has written are great too.
posted by hrj at 6:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Not as charming in presentation, but Mark Bittman is a good choice for casual, improvisational, quick, produce-centered approaches. Try How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, or, especially, his recent columns for the New York Times.

I would also enthusiastically endorse Nigel Slater based on previous work, although I haven't cooked out of Tender.
posted by libraryhead at 6:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I heard Jamie Oliver being interviewed on the radio (world's strongest citation, I know) the other day and he said his next book would be a vegetarian one. Meanwhile, this might be of interest to you if you haven't already seen it.
posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty at 7:27 AM on January 16, 2013

I would second the Heidi Swanson suggestion, primarily based on your "simple ingredients" criterion. Heidi's recipes rarely feature an ingredient I can't find at my supermarket.

I also endorse the Jack Bishop book, I haven't made a bad recipe from it. But his recipes, like America's Test Kitchen's, can be a tiny bit "fussy," whereas I think Jamie's are the opposite of fussy.
posted by Anonymousness at 7:33 AM on January 16, 2013

I'm a Heidi Swanson fan, as well, and I just got Ottolenghi's Plenty for Christmas this year - it's GORGEOUS but I haven't cooked from it much, yet. My all-time desert-island can't-live-without-it favoritest best vegetarian cookbook ever is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I use it several times a month, more during peak CSA season. I love it so, so much.
posted by hungrybruno at 7:48 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Check out the Hot Knivez guys, they run a great blog and also have put out a cookbook or two.
posted by justjess at 8:09 AM on January 16, 2013

Agreeing with 101 Cookbooks (I prefer the blog to the book, honestly) and Deborah Madison (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is my "if I could only keep one of my vegetarian cookbooks" pick), also that Plenty is a gorgeous book but not as practical for everyday use (at least for me--it calls for ingredients I don't have ready access to in my neck of the woods, but I've noticed lots of British and Australian celebrity cookbook writers like Donna Hay use some ingredients I struggle to find, so...). She's not aesthetically/demographically like Oliver at all, she's more old skool hippie, but Mollie Katzen's cookbooks (the original Moosewood Cookbook and Enchanted Broccoli Forest are usual starting points) are good at being simple and straightforward, with no hard to find ingredients, and delicious. The Greens cookbooks are good too, but more involved and also retro in the same Katzen sort of way.
posted by ifjuly at 9:11 AM on January 16, 2013

My money is on Mollie Katzen and Moosewood Restaurant.
A selection of her/their cookbooks:
* The New Moosewood Cookbook
* Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
* Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day
* Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table
* The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

Also, seconding Isa Chandra Moskowitz and the recipes at The PPK. Simple ingredients, quick and tasty weeknight meals, lots of rustic and comforting flavors. EX: Chickpea Picatta is easy, fast, and to die for. See also chickpea cutlets, pierogi, etc.
posted by divined by radio at 9:12 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Simon Rimmer's Accidental Vegetarian "feels" Jamie Oliverish by the way--he's a young British dude who had/has a restaurant and did more unusual things with vegetables than standard. It's not as foolproof as Oliver's stuff tends to be (he doesn't have the rad Italian pro background Oliver has) and sometimes not as simple, but it is excellent for fresh, modern inspiration--even when recipes fall a little flat somehow the ideas in them help me do stuff with vegetables I never would have thought of (lamb and okra and sweet potato ojja, doing filled bell peppers like normal but using tender cooked fennel bulb for the filling instead of ground beef, etc.).
posted by ifjuly at 9:14 AM on January 16, 2013

now why the heck did i say his ojja had lamb in it?! i think i was conflating his recipe with a martha stewart tagine i made around the same time that did have lamb and sweet potatoes. d'oh. simon rimmer's book does not have lamb in it, i promise. (:
posted by ifjuly at 9:22 AM on January 16, 2013

Also - FYI. Both Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall learnt their trade at the River Cafe (in London) and in common with a few chefs on London's restaurant scene, regularly acknowledge their debt to Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, who run it. It is the mothership of modern British restaurants.

The River Cafe has produced several well-regarded cookbooks over the years. In 2001 they published River Cafe Green, a collection of seasonal recipes that, while not strictly vegetarian, involves a lot of vegetarian cooking. Hence Nigel Slater's review, "this is as dazzling and imaginative a collection of vegetable recipes as you are ever likely to find in one book...it has barely left my kitchen all summer."
posted by MuffinMan at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Edit: Rose Gray used to run it. She died of cancer a couple of years back.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:28 AM on January 16, 2013

Jamie Oliver + Vegetarian = Deborah Madison

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is the real thing.
posted by gyusan at 9:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was very excited about Plenty, as it is a beautiful book, but the recipes are more complicated than a typical Jamie Oliver. Also reviews have been somewhat suggestive that the book is just a pretty face.

Deborah Madison is more the "how to cook everything" of vegetarians, rather than a Jamie Oliver per say. Its a huge tome. Maybe her "Vegetarian Suppers" would be more accesible?
posted by cacofonie at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I love Jamie too. One thing you can do is substitute a solid chunky vegetable for the meat portion of the recipe. (I nearly said 'a meaty vegetable'. Once I started to do this, vegetables became a lot more interesting to me.) Stuff like squash or pumpkin etc.
posted by glasseyes at 12:20 PM on January 16, 2013

Surprised it took so long to get to Deborah Madison, whose Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is one of my standbys - and I by no means cook only vegetarian fare.

I don't know how she stacks up to Jamie Oliver, having never seen his show, but I do find Madison's book quite reliable and creative in its recipes.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2013

As a Jamie Oliver fan (as a style of cooking, I don't use his recipe books) I have to anti-recommend the moosewood cookbooks. I bought one and found almost everything in in nasty and relying far too much on pre-prepared ingredients. That may be because I'm in the UK where they inevitably aren't available but it's also just the opposite of how I like to cook.

I enjoyed The Accidental Vegetarian, as suggested above. I find Ottolenghi overly complicated and not worth it. I like Nigel Slaters fruit and veg books, but they're not exclusively veggie.
posted by kadia_a at 1:09 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I bought the Jack Bishop Italian vegetarian recipe book on an askme recommendation, and it is literally the best cookbook I have ever owned, in terms of successful recipes. Honestly, every single thing I've made from it has been good to great - and I've made a lot.

I like Ottolenghi, but I find his recipes can be a little bit samey in terms of flavours. Most of them are available on The Guardian's website for free.
posted by smoke at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2013

I've been using Paul McCartney's collection of recipes in his The Meat Free Monday Cookbook and find them simple and easy to produce. It is divided by seasons which I find really useful, and everything I have made has been really, really tasty, fulsome food.
posted by honey-barbara at 10:01 PM on January 16, 2013

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