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Blast from the Past: Cookbooks Every Vegetarian Kitchen Needs

Blast from the Past: Cookbooks Every Vegetarian Kitchen Needs

Originally posted on August 17, 2011

I was a vegetarian for several years, but when I got pregnant with Baby Beez, I wanted to eat Uncle Sam’s Subs ALL DAY EVERY DAY, and vegetarianism went out the window. I would like to go back to vegetarianism, but the one of the keys to being a veggie and not getting bored and not getting fat is to cook at home and make a variety of different things (as opposed to, say baguettes and brie all day every day, which although delicious, isn’t ideal). I haven’t been able to cook nearly as much as I’d like lately, but when I DID have time to do all that cooking, these were the tools in my arsenal:

Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. Not surprisingly, a lot of the recipes in here are soups and stews, but she does branch out with some entrees, desserts, and appetizers. Robertson includes some easy preparation tips for using the slow cooker that really helps bring out flavors. The recipes are all very diverse– this is not a set of variations on the same bean soup. My favorite recipes are the Maple Baked Beans (ok, so baked beans do not sound exciting, but they are really delicious), and the In a Hurry Vegetable Curry.

The Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. This is a vegan cookbook, but you don’t have to be a vegan to LOVE it. A lot of vegetarian cookbooks are stuck in a pasta and cheese rut, and I sometimes feel like vegan cooking spends too much time trying to impersonate meat and dairy. This cookbook doesn’t waste its time on “fake” recipes. It focuses on beans, grains, and vegetables, and deliciously so. It runs the full dining gamut, an encyclopedia of vegan dining with a recipe for every occasion. It also includes very helpful cooking tips that will equip you with skills for creating your own delicious vegan recipes. Although the authors probably wouldn’t be too keen on this, I often make these recipes “non-vegan” by using regular milk instead of soymilk, butter instead of soy margarine, etc, because those are the ingredients I already have in the house. The recipes turn out just fine with the substitutes. My favorite recipes include the Seitanic Red and White Bean Jambalaya, and the Plaintain and Pinto Stew.

Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook is the vegetarian hippie bible, and not surprisingly it’s in the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame. It contains lots of casseroles and easy bakes that easily feed a full family, and also freeze very well. My favorite recipes are Cauliflower Mushroom Marranca (sooooo good) and Scheherazade Casserole.

Olive Trees and Honey by Gil Marks. This is a Jewish cookbook, but it’s not all blintzes and matzoh balls. We Jews are all over the world, and so is this cookbook. The recipes are from all over Europe, and there are a number of recipes out of Africa and India as well. The variety is impressive. My favorite parts of the book are the descriptions of the background and traditions surrounding each dish, as well as different variations on the recipes based on the flavors of different countries. There are also very informative sections about Jewish history and traditions, Jewish cooking traditions in different countries, and the qualities of different spices. Sephardic Leek and Cheese Casserole and Noodle Kugel are amongst my many, many favorite recipes in this collection.

What are your kitchen cookbook staples?

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