Vegetarian cookbooks?
January 20, 2006 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Vegetarian cookbook recommendations?

I'm looking to buy one as a gift for an aspiring meat-spurner who doesn't have much cooking experience. If possible, I'd like a more pragmatic book that focuses on easing the entry into a vegetarian lifestyle, rather than an emphasis on high-end cuisine.
posted by Succa to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The Moosewood cookbooks are great.
posted by scody at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2006

The Greens Restaurant cookbooks are great too, especially 'Field of Greens'.
posted by culberjo at 12:41 PM on January 20, 2006

Damn you, Scody! I was fishing around for that same link to say that Moosewoods are excellent, and probably the best starting point for people interested in cooking vegetarian from books (I tend to improv...)
posted by klangklangston at 12:50 PM on January 20, 2006

I like Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons as a good general cookbook.
posted by jacobm at 12:53 PM on January 20, 2006

Yeah, they're great, aren't they? I went back to eating meat more than 10 years ago, but my Moosewood books are still among my favorites.
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on January 20, 2006

are my favorites. Both authors offer lots of tasty, filling, relatively easy recipes without thinking of using "meat substitutes" (unless eggplant counts ;).

posted by Utilitaritron at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2006

Best answer: Oh, and another: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I don't have it (though I've always meant to pick it up), but several of my friends do (vegetarians and meat-eaters too) and swear by it.
posted by scody at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2006

Athens, Georgia's world-famous vegetarian restaurant The Grit has a cookbook that's worth having.
posted by ewagoner at 1:02 PM on January 20, 2006

Rebar's Cookbook
posted by caddis at 1:02 PM on January 20, 2006

The Grit: Athens, Georgia's favorite vegetarian restaurant.
posted by The Michael The at 1:03 PM on January 20, 2006

damn you ewagoner.
posted by The Michael The at 1:03 PM on January 20, 2006

Wow, four of my favourites have already been mentioned: I bought the Grit cookbook (in Athens, natch) the moment I saw it. Black bean chili? First page.

Anyway, Deborah Madison's book is the place to start. It's ridiculously comprehensive. You have a non-sentient main ingredient? You look it up in the index and find recipes. They will be there. Once your friend feels more confident, the other cookbooks become more useful (If there's one criticism about Madison's book, it's that the recipes aren't ooh-aah show-off to friends; but they do work and you have thousands of them.)
posted by holgate at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Because I'm a lazy bachelor vegetarian, I recommend Nava Atlas "The Vegetarian Five Ingredient Gourmet".

Badda bing. Badda boom. You're done.
posted by willmize at 1:25 PM on January 20, 2006

Oops, wrong link. Buy Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Ideally in a hardback -- per scody's link -- since it's hefty and the spine on the softcover will break.
posted by holgate at 1:27 PM on January 20, 2006

Seconding Moosewood, which is tied chez mendel with Nava Atlas's 5-Ingredient Vegetarian Gourmet for everyday food. (Despite "Gourmet" in the title, it's all sensible everyday food, and the 5-ingredient limit makes for easy shopping trips.)

Note that the Moosewood cookbooks by Mollie Katzen and the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks by the Moosewood Collective are different things; it's Katzen's I'm recommending and I suspect it's the same for the others above. The Moosewood Collective ones are good veggie cookbooks, but they're a lot less basic and a lot less useful for day-to-day cooking than the originals. They're not even hand-lettered, and there's something about that hand lettering that makes the original Moosewood even better.
posted by mendel at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2006

The Quick And Easy Vegitarian Cookbook. You can get it for $1.50.

disclaimer: It was written by my grandmother.
posted by atom128 at 1:30 PM on January 20, 2006

My wife has three favorites:
- the one she considers essential is the aforementioned Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
- Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian (note, not the Jaffrey book recommended above)
- Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon
posted by jjg at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2006

For introductory I'd go with Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

I'd actually recommend against the Moosewood books, the original ones, because I think that they're dated, just as I think Laurel's Kitchen is dated. They come from a time when vegetarian cooking was significantly more earthy than it is now, when the array of decent produce was much narrowerer. I love the books, and I do think they've got some good recipes, but I think that there are other books better for someone who is just being introduced to the joys of vegetarian eating and cooking.
posted by OmieWise at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2006

I also like Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. The recipes are simple, the explanations of ingredients are fantastic, and you can eat as prosaically or exotically as you might like. ( I baked her oat cake recipe just last night, and used her Scallion Pancake recipe just this past weekend.)
posted by OmieWise at 1:38 PM on January 20, 2006

Response by poster: I think the Deborah Madison one best fits the bill here. I'll stop by the bookstore after work and have a look. Might check out The Grit cookbook too, for myself....

Thanks everyone!
posted by Succa at 1:48 PM on January 20, 2006

Late to the game, I know, but I really love Alice Waters's Chez Panisse Vegetables.
posted by trip and a half at 1:56 PM on January 20, 2006

My favorite is Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, which is divided into recipes from/inspired by different geographic/cultural regions. The Ethiopian Lentil Stew is one of the best things I have ever eaten and it takes less than an hour to make. Rumpledethumps is also a wonderful dish (as well as being a delightful word to say).

World Vegetarian is definitely comprehensive, but its layout is rather confusing, and the index isn't all that good, so it can be rather challenging to find what it you are looking for. (Recipes are arranged by main ingredient, which doesn't work as well when a recipe has several ingredients. Nothing's cross-listed.)
posted by luneray at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2006

What, nobody's mentioned Jeanne Lemlin's books? Her recipes are the most consistently delicious of any major author I've tried, and her Vegetarian Classics is the single most well-worn cookbook I own after Joy of Cooking.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:14 PM on January 20, 2006

There's also The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.
posted by davar at 2:43 PM on January 20, 2006

Yah, Jeanne Lemlin's books are full of scrumptious recipes that are a lot less labor intensive than a lot of other vegetarian cookbooks. I also really love Ginny Callan's Horn of the Moon cookbooks, but you might want to hold off until you can pressgang some companions to chop all the mountains of veggies that will be required and wash all the pots and pans you will have to use.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 6:17 PM on January 20, 2006

Madhur Jaffrey's book is horribly mispaginated, which explains the confusing layout and difficult index that luneray mentions. Many of her recipes are good, but I hate trying to use such a wretchedly produced book.

Also, a lot of older vegetarian cookbooks presume that you're an earth mama with a lot of prep time on your hands.
posted by tangerine at 8:36 PM on January 20, 2006

Ditto Deborah Madison & Moosewood, and a vote for the Zen Monastery Cookbook.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:27 AM on January 21, 2006

Yes, yes, yes on Deborah Madison's Veg Cooking for Everyone and no, no, no on Field of Greens. Yoikes, every recipe in that danged book requires 20 ingredients, most of them not easy to find. For ingredients you have on hand and little cooking expertise, the Moosewood Cooks at Home is a good starter.
posted by eve harrington at 2:24 PM on January 22, 2006

If you want something REALLY special - Charlie Trotter's Vegetables. The book is expensive, the ingredients are hard to source and the recipes are hard BUT the results are nothing short of gastronomicalicious and the photography is brilliant. The wine notes are a hoot too - here's a sample, his recommendation for the 'Salsify and sweet potato terrine with two enriching vinaigrettes'
Full-bodied dry, somewhat oaky wines like the Chateau de Beaucastel Chateaunneuf-de-Pape Blanc Rousanne Vielles Vignes with some early age will be magnificent, as the earthy aromas and full flavour of the wine matches the terrine’s heartiness, which the truffle seems to enhance. We can also endorse bigger white Burgundies; the almost diesel-like style of a more mature Leroy Puligny or a Jobard Meursault would also be exciting.
posted by tellurian at 3:46 PM on January 22, 2006

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