Vegetables and Grains

eatyourvegetablesSo many wonderful vegetable and vegetarian cookbooks have come out recently, it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Here are some more perfect for starting the new year. Note: a couple of these are not strictly vegetarian, but have so many great vegetable recipes I included them anyway.

For a food writer and editor to go vegetarian, means some really serious work had to happen, adapting and creating new bold recipes. That’s exactly what Joe Yonan has done in his latest book, Eat Your Vegetables. It’s the second in a series for the single cook/diner. But if you are not single, don’t let that deter you. First of all there are times when all of us are dining alone, and most of the recipes are easy to multiply or adapt for larger groups. This is vegetarian food for someone who knows how meat tastes, if that makes any sense. Curried Mushroom Bean Burgers, Pomegranate-Glazed Eggplant, Spaghetti with Root-to-Leaf Radish. Good stuff!

rivercottagevegRiver Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes is the latest in a series of River Cottage cookbooks on single subjects, everything from fish to preserves to bread. The book has some classics like Eggplant Parmigiana and Poached Egg on Toast, but also very fresh vegetarian recipes, like Warm Salad of Mushrooms and Roasted Squash, Beet and Walnut Hummus, Tahini-dressed Zucchini and Green Bean Salad, Green Onion Galette and Kohlrahbi “carpaccio.” It’s simple but very appealing and approachable vegetarian food for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

le-pain-quotidien-cookbook-alain-coumont-hardcover-cover-artLe Pain Quotidien is a cookbook that seems to have remained under the radar. I didn’t see it on one “best of” list this year. But with 200 bakery/cafe locations around the world, you know they are doing something right. And they are. Le Pain Quotidien makes delicious, mostly organic, and often healthy food including lots of open face “tartine” sandwiches, soups and salads, breads and more. The cookbook is an extension of the brand, in the best possible way. There are some very unexpected but enticing recipes like Mocha & Caper Butter with Crostini, Pea, Pancetta & Radish Tartine, Soba, Cauliflower & Blood Orange Salad and Pearl Barley Paella. The photography is beautiful and the recipes are all really straight forward and easy to do. You can create lovely little picture perfect snacks with this book.

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rivercottagevegLate at night, after I’ve spent an entire day fooling around with vegetables, what do I do but curl up on the couch with a book about—vegetables! My new favorite cookbook is River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes by the unstoppable British food writer, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I must admit, I’m fond of his pro-veg (rather than anti-meat) philosophy, because, well, it’s pretty much the point of view I offer in The Fresh & Green Table. But it’s more than that. I just plain like his food—honest and sensible but inspiring too. Somehow, this big hefty book, its thick matte pages covered from ear to ear with colorful but homey food photos and whimsical illustrations, feels like just the right thing to plunk on your lap at the end of a long day.

I only got to page six before I saw the thing I wanted to make for supper the very next day. And I did. Only I didn’t exactly follow Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe. I know, I know. (Insert sheepish look here.) But I’m really in the mode of “use what we have around” so into this lovely early summer frittata went all kinds of interesting things from the garden.

I started with 9 little pullet eggs. These are the smallest eggs our new chickens are laying (many of them have already upgraded to medium and large eggs). We don’t sell a lot of them, so they wind up as house eggs. Voila, 9 into a frittata—way to use those eggs up, Susie!

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forestfeastThe reason cookbooks continue to sell when you can find plenty of recipes online is beautiful photos, illustrations and inventive recipes. The Forest Feast has it all. The pretty and very visual format of recipes with tons of photos as well as pretty watercolor illustrations is easy to follow and ever so appealing. The vegetarian recipes are simple but also attractive, such as Strawberry Salsa, Nectarine and Tomato Salad, Corn & Cauliflower Tacos and Polenta Portobellos. There are also a handful of cocktails. Erin Gleason the blogger behind the stylish vegetarian blog The Forest Feast is self-taught and focuses on seasonal ingredients. Nothing too cheffy here. Easy, pretty and original, it's a great introduction to vegetarian cuisine for omnivores or newbie home cooks looking for inspiration for everything from family meals to cocktails and entertaining.

straightfromearthVegan cookbooks are nothing new. But a vegan cookbook written by someone who is not only not a vegan but not a vegetarian? Well, that is something new. And frankly, welcome. Myra Goodman and her daughter Marea Goodman are worthy evangelists for eating organic produce, since Myra Goodman is one of the co-founders of Earthbound Farm. She has written some lovely cookbooks in the past, but Straight from the Earth is particularly special. The recipes do not feature dishes that approximate meat, but rather celebrate vegetables, grains, fruit, beans and nuts. The photography is beautiful and recipes are very enticing. There is no attitude, thankfully, just creativity and genuinely appealing recipes like Grilled Fig Sandwiches with Pistachio Pesto and Balsamic Caramelized Onions or Wheat Berry, Baby Kale, Grape and Orange Salad. Some recipes require the best seasonal produce like Crostini with Vine-Ripened Tomatoes and White Bean Puree, but others use things you can easily find all year long such as Miso Roasted Eggplant.

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sherylcrowck.jpgWhen singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow was battling breast cancer in 2006 (which thankfully she beat back) she knew it was “a wake-up call” to eat better. It was during this time that she met personal chef Chuck White (or “Chef Chuck” to his friends) who was, at the time, cooking for John Mayer’s music tour and they discovered that they both lived in Nashville. Shortly after, Sheryl teamed up with “Chef Chuck” and they collaborated to create an inspired diet regimen that was best for her and her family. “Chef Chuck” quickly developed fun, tasty recipes that both Sheryl – and her two sons, Wyatt and Levi – would enjoy. Healthy, delicious, and sometimes eclectic (like Chuck’s decadent Chocolate Mousse made with avocado), their resulting cookbook is truly original.

Chuck focuses on cooking foods that are seasonal, locally grown, and vitamin-rich to help keep her feeling fit and ready to meet the challenges of life both at home and on the road. If It Makes You Healthy includes around 125 recipes for summer, fall, winter, and spring. From spring zucchini to hearty winter squash, to the delicious Spring Vegetables with Quinoa, the recipes focus on the changing seasons. The book also gives the reader an inside look at some of the meals Sheryl eats with her crew – Mojito braised pork, and some of her kids favorites— basil and apple marinated chicken and healthy oatmeal cookies.

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veganholidaycover.jpgMaking Thanksgiving dinner is hard enough for most people. For those who have guests with food allergies, it can be grueling. Mom can't eat the creamy mashed potatoes because she's lactose-intolerant. Aunt Amy skips the bread stuffing because she's gluten-intolerant. Uncle Henry is allergic to nuts, so he can't eat half the dishes on the table. Just order him a pizza.

As for dessert, well, it's practically a death trap. Classic Thanksgiving pies typically contain gluten, butter, milk, sugar, and nuts. Plus 1 in 2 Americans is pie-challenged. I know, I'm one of them.

Here's the answer to your Thanksgiving dessert dilemma: Make Nava Atlas's Apple-Pumpkin Delight from her latest cookbook, Vegan Holiday Kitchen (Sterling, November 2011). It's gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free, so everyone will be able to enjoy it. And you won't have to make a pie crust.

A veteran vegetarian and cookbook author, Atlas has created more than 200 festive, tasty, vegan holiday recipes organized into six chapters: Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Holiday Season, Jewish Holidays, Easter, Independence Day and Summer Entertaining, and Brunches, Appetizers, and Potluck Dishes.

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