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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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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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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ancientgrainsmodernmeals.jpgThere are people out there who don't want you to enjoy eating. You know who they are – the carb-averse, all fat-fearing folks consumed with diets and detox. Maria Speck, author of the beautiful new cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, is not of them.

In her introduction, Speck, in her refreshingly direct tone says, "Almost every conversation about my passion for whole grains evoked this well-meaning remark: 'Your diet must be very healthy.' This comment always leaves me speechless, because health is the last thing on my mind when I eat."

What is on her mind is cooking with unprocessed, real foods – fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains -- that are full of flavor and which happen to be healthy. Speck began eating whole grains while growing up in Greece and Germany. As a kid, she noshed on oats, wheat berries, and bulgur and as an adult has committed herself to exploring their delicious potential.

In the first section of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, Speck describes a wide variety of whole grains from prosaic grits and rice to more exotic kamut and farro. She tells you how to buy, store, and cook with whole grains, and even provides a helpful table with measurements and cooking times.

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fresh  green tableWe’ve all met them — people who sincerely love vegetables but are so depressingly earnest about it, that a conversation with them leaves you craving a cheeseburger and fries. Susie Middleton isn’t one of them. In her latest book, The Fresh & Green Table: Delicious Ideas for Bringing Vegetables into Every Meal, Middleton moves vegetables to the center of the table and serves them up generously seasoned with joy.

In her introduction, she acknowledges “how hard it is to navigate nutritional advice these days” which is why she approaches cooking vegetables from a cook’s point-of-view, not a nutritionist’s. That’s what makes her cookbook a pleasure to use. After reading a few recipes, you can’t wait to rush to the farmers market to buy bag-loads of veggies and start cooking.

Upon first glance, the recipes look lengthy — perhaps too lengthy to tackle — but persevere. What you’ll find upon closer inspection are clearly written, detailed recipes laced with established cooking techniques and helpful tips. Indeed, after making a couple of her recipes, you’ll feel like Middleton is in the kitchen with you, offering equal measures of advice and cheer.

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