After decades of being maligned, disguised, and smothered in cheese sauce, vegetables are finally getting their due. Beautiful, unapologetic cookbooks share innovative and delicious ways to prepare them, making the prospect of sampling unfamiliar ingredients less daunting than it once was. This month’s column features several vegetarian, vegan, and whole-foods titles that can help readers discover new recipes and explore a healthier lifestyle.
Butcher, Sally. New Middle Eastern Street Food: Snacks, Comfort Food, and Mezze from Snackistan. Interlink. 2013. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9781566569583. $30. COOKING
In her follow-up to The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian: Modern Recipes from Veggiestan, Butcher, who runs the London-based Persian food store Persepolis, offers snacks, mezze, and street foods from “Snackistan” (a fictitious region encompassing the Middle East, Greece, and Sudan). Like Rena Patten’s Mezze, this cookbook incorporates a variety of recipes for dips, grilled meats, and marinated, pickled, and fried snacks. By contrast, Butcher’s work contains more courses—including drinks and desserts—and lengthier, personality-filled headnotes. VERDICT Less formal than Tess Mallos’s Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook and Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, this volume will complement ethnic collections.
Copeland, Sarah (text) & Yunhee Kim (photos). Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite. Chronicle. 2013. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781452109732. $35. COOKING
After marrying a vegetarian, Copeland (The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas and Modern Recipes for Cooking with and for Each Other), a former lead recipe developer for the Food Network, transitioned to a mostly meatless lifestyle. Appealing to ethically minded foodies, she presents here 140-plus recipes that celebrate vegetables as delectable luxuries. Gorgeous color photographs highlight the textures of dishes such as radish salad with aged parmesan, delicata squash with pomegranates, and whole-wheat penne with pumpkin, rosemary, and pine nuts. Desserts that include blackberry fool and poached peaches are simple, sweet endings. A few meals contain fish and shellfish. VERDICT With versatile, varied recipes for everyday and special occasions, this attractive cookbook will entice most readers. Highly recommended.
Green, Patricia & Carolyn Hemming. Grain Power: Over 100 Delicious Gluten-Free Ancient Grain & Superblend Recipes. Pintail: Penguin. Jan. 2014. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9780143189602. pap. $29.95. COOKING
Sisters and best-selling authors Green and Hemming (both, Quinoa Revolution) return with a new collection extolling the benefits of gluten-free grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, chia, kañiwa, and sorghum. After defining these grains, the authors explain their many culinary applications and share basic recipes for dairy-free milks, sprouts, chia gel (a butter and oil substitute), and more. The main dishes (e.g., chili lime popped amaranth, spicy Creole quinoa stew, chocolate ancient grain torte with raspberry chia sauce), which readers are unlikely to find elsewhere, include nutritional analysis and metric and U.S. measurements. VERDICT Comprehensive coverage of less-familiar grains makes this a must for whole-grain aficionados.
Kassoff, Anya (text) & Masha Davydova (photos). The Vibrant Table: Recipes from My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan & Sometimes Raw Kitchen. Roost. Jun. 2014. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781611800975. $35. COOKING
Kassoff, creator of the food blog Golubka (golubkakitchen.com), was born and raised in Russia. A vivid dream of huckleberry ice cream opens her visually rich collection of 100-plus recipes that offer health-conscious and gluten-free families a wide selection of elegant meal ideas. Raw, from-scratch preparations emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables and include numerous specialty ingredients. A few recipes require advance planning; for instance, (vegan) brazil nut oat yogurt, mixed in a high-speed blender, needs eight hours to soak and an additional one to three days to ferment. VERDICT Stunning photographs and elegant prose distinguish this book from similar healthy vegetarian titles.
Largeman-Roth, Frances (text) & Quentin Bacon (photos). Eating in Color: Delicious, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Family. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Jan. 2014. 216p. photos. index. ISBN 9781617690297. $27.50. COOKING
With the goal of encouraging families to eat more fruits and vegetables, nutritionist Largeman-Roth (Feed the Belly) shares simple rules for healthy living and 90 recipes grouped by color. Cold chaser citrus salad, late summer succotash, and other recipes include nutrition information and are mostly easy to prepare. Between recipes, Largeman-Roth lists ingredient profiles with historical facts, nutritional benefits, and shopping, preparation, and storage tips. VERDICT Some of Largeman-Roth’s recipes have limited kid appeal, but most offer interesting uses for produce. Readers who like her approach should try Cathy Thomas’s 50 Best Plants on the Planet: 150 Nutrient-Dense and Delicious Recipes.
Liddon, Angela. The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes To Glow from the Inside Out. Avery. Mar. 2014. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9781583335277. pap. $25. COOKING
Liddon, a former child development researcher, struggled for years with an eating disorder. This companion cookbook to her popular vegan recipe blog, Oh She Glows (ohsheglows.com), documents her journey to a healthier life and combines 75 new recipes with 25-plus new and improved reader favorites. Liddon’s authentic voice and candidly shared successes will motivate nonvegans to try healthy recipes such as effortless vegan overnight oats (made with chia seeds and homemade almond milk), Eat Your Greens Detox Soup, and Classic Green Monster (a kale and banana–based smoothie). It’s easy to tell which recipes are gluten-, soy-, nut-, and sugar-free, but none include nutrition information. VERDICT For most vegan collections.
Moncel, Beth. Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half. Avery. Feb. 2014. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781583335307. pap. $18. COOKING
Moncel launched her blog, Budget Bytes (budgetbytes.com), after economic recession forced her to adopt a strict food budget. The recipes in her new cookbook, some adapted from the blog, are written for novices who value variety as much as saving money. Many cost less than a dollar per serving, and while they rely heavily on inexpensive staples, they incorporate flavorful seasonings and garnishes. Moncel includes freezer and pantry stocking tips, sample menus, and an index of vegetarian and vegan recipes. VERDICT Though great for budget-conscious young adults, Moncel’s debut is less useful than her website, as several great features (e.g., cost breakdowns, cooking times) have been lost in translation.
Newman, Joni Marie. Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen: 125 Comfort Food Classics Reinvented with an Ethnic Twist! Fair Winds: Quayside. 2013. 176p. photos. index. ISBN 9781592335800. pap. $19.99. COOKING
In her vibrant new cookbook, California native and self-taught cook Newman (Vegan Food Gifts) shares vegan recipes that blend Indian, Mexican, Korean, Filipino, and other international flavors. Playful fusion dishes such as miso mac and cheese, tamale shepherd’s pie, and Mexicannoli emphasize fresh ingredients over premade meat and dairy substitutions and encourage readers to try new techniques (e.g., freezing and thawing tofu to release extra moisture, incorporating ground seaweed into condiments). Cooking tips appear throughout, as well as icons denoting gluten-, nut-, and soy-free choices. VERDICT Featuring some exceptionally bold sauces, drinks, and small plates, this well-balanced collection will tempt adventurous vegans. Highly recommended.
Scicolone, Michele (text) & Alan Richardson (photos). The Italian Vegetable Cookbook: 200 Favorite Recipes for Antipasti, Soups, Pasta, Main Dishes, and Desserts. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2014. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780547909165. $25. COOKING
Taking a break from the slow cooker, the subject of her last few books, veteran author Scicolone (The Mediterranean Slow Cooker) turns her attention to the oven and stove top. Like Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, Scicolone’s new title draws inspiration from travel and includes plenty of enviable anecdotes. Recipes organized by course (antipasti, soups, pasta, side dishes, etc.), from elegant roasted tomatoes on the vine with burrata to easy two-berry tiramisu, are home cook friendly, calling for mostly easy-to-find ingredients. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in another solid collection of mostly meat-free Italian vegetable dishes.
Shelly, Katie. Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. Ulysses Pr. 2013. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781612432342. $18.95. COOKING
Media designer Shelly’s debut recalls Robert H. Loeb Jr.’s 1952 cookbook Date Bait, which used humor and simplified step-by-step illustrations to make cooking less daunting for midcentury teens. Shelly’s contemporary pictorial cookbook is more minimal (there’s no dating advice here) but equally unintimidating, and readers will find it hard not to smile at whimsical drawings of white lasagna, nutty quinoa, Immortality Smoothie, and other easy dishes. Those accustomed to glossy photographs may need coaxing to try these recipes, but they’ll find them freeing as there’s no risk of a disappointing comparison between page and plate. VERDICT A treat for visual learners, beginning readers, young people, new cooks, and anyone who enjoys graphic design.