If your New Year’s resolutions include planning to cook more at home or to eat more vegetables, having a few cookbooks on hand to keep you inspired is an absolute must. Here are a few books I turn to regularly and highly recommend:
Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook by Joe Yonan
This book by Washington Post food columnist Joe Yonan is packed with all kinds of helpful info and tips on how to work ahead, making staples for the fridge or freezer, so that weeknight cooking is quicker. The recipes cover a range of familiar flavors, with dishes like Cheesy Greens and Rice Gratin, to more adventurous approaches, such as Steamed Eggplant with Miso-Tomato Sauce and Indonesian Tofu and Egg Wraps. The Curried Broccoli and Warm Israeli Couscous Salad is one of my all-time favorite recipes, with pops of flavor from pickled raisins, toasted cashews and tangy arugula, and satisfying chew from the couscous. And he has some clever recipes that size down big batches into single servings, such as Spinach Enchiladas and Baby Eggplant Parm. I have recommended this book to so many people over the past couple of years.
The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations by Kim O’Donnel
This book by journalist and chef Kim O’Donnel offers very creative vegetable-centric recipes organized into seasonal menus. It’s full of lovely ideas, especially for those traditional-eating occasions when finding elegant, entertaining-worthy vegetarian options may be new territory. Her Split Peas and Carrots (and Turnips, Too) Stew is a delight and her Guinness Gingerbread is a cake recipe you’ll be very glad to discover.
The famous vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York, delivers on the “simple suppers” concept in this book full of easy-to-put together dishes, made from readily available ingredients, including one-pot dishes like Shortcut Chili, and Lentils with Spinach and Soy Sausage. There’s even a recipe for nachos that you can feel good about eating for dinner!
If eating seasonally is one of your goals, look to this book to guide you on a discovery of enjoying seasonal produce and flavors by month. This book also offers helpful advice for cooking for young ones and special diets, since that’s part of the author’s household cooking. Raw Kale Salad with Anchovy-Date Dressing, Celery Salad with Walnut and Parmesan, and Spiced Braised Lentils and Tomatoes with Toasted Coconut are some of the recipes that have quickly worked their way into regular rotation in my meal plans.
The cover of this book calls out “fast and filling low-fat vegan recipes,” and the author really delivers on that in a fun-to-read, encouraging style. Recipes include nutrifacts, which are a helpful tool if you are looking for that level of detail. OMG Oven-Baked Onion Rings and Arabian Lentil and Rice Soup were some of the first recipes I made from this book and I was immediately won over. The recipes feature fantastic flavors and very creative and innovative techniques. Bonus: Pun lovers will appreciate recipe titles such as Manhattan Glam Chowder.
This is an older book (1990) by the prolific and wonderful Deborah Madison. (Her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is an essential resource for any cookbook library.) Black Bean Soup for Six (she also has a version for a crowd of 40 or 50 people!) is a staple in my house. It’s so simple and so satisfying. Also, her Kale and Potato Gratin is so simple with just three main ingredients, and yet you can’t get more delicious.
Whether you find inspiration from a book, blog or fellow friends who love to cook and talk about food, make sure to keep these ideas front and center to maintain your enthusiasm as you embark on a new year’s journey of cooking more at home and eating more healthfully.
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