1. Salad Samurai
Terry Hope Romero is probably my favorite vegan cookbook writer. My copy of her Vegan Eats World has been used so many times that the whole thing is falling apart. The pages are coming out and the spine is cracked, but the recipes are so good and the flavor combinations are so interesting that I keep taking it off the shelf. I might like Salad Samurai even more. I’m so glad that salads—and bowls—-are trendy now, because I love them, but not the boring, barebones kinds you find in too many restaurants still. The best kinds of salads never leave you hungry. They’re filled with filling proteins and vegetables that are hearty and flavors that you could never find in a bottle of salad dressing from the grocery store.
I wish that restaurants around here served salads like the ones in Salad Samurai. For one thing there are so many different types to pick from. The recipes in the book are separated by season (which I love), starting out light and fresh in spring, and gradually getting heartier and warmer into winter. As in Vegan Eats World, a lot of the recipes are inspired by international cuisine. Mexican, Korean, Thai, Italian, Indian . . . All filling and all good. We’ve cooked most of the recipes already and haven’t found a single one we didn’t like.
Favorites: Vanessa Kabocha Salad (Chinese five-spice!!), Pesto Cauliflower and Potato Salad, Gingery Beets and Lentils with Tahini and Agave Nectar, and Tempeh Reubenesque Salad.
2. A Modern Way to Eat
Anna Jones is a Jamie Oliver protégé who happens to be vegetarian, and that was reason enough for me to want to check out her book. Drew and I were big Jamie Oliver fans before we started eating vegan, and we are again now that he includes so many vegan recipes in his magazine and on his site. Anna Jones has a similar, super laid-back cooking style. Her recipes sometimes call for “handfuls” of ingredients rather than measurements, and they’re the opposite of pretentious. I also just love the Britishness of them. Right now I’m obsessed with The Great British Bake Off (how did I never see it until now?!) so I like seeing things I recognize from the show, like Yorkshire puddings and savory pies.
Favorites: Beetroot Curry, Kale and Black Sesame Sushi Bowl, Cardamom and Star Anise Winter Squash Soup, and Lemony Lentil and Crispy Kale Soup.
3. At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen
Amy Chaplin had a blog called Coconut & Quinoa that I didn’t know about until her book came out last year. I don’t know how I missed it. Her recipes are just the kind I like. They’re healthy and inventive and they stand on their own as vegetarian/vegan dishes, rather than just being meatless versions of standard meals. No fake meats here. Sometimes I’m wary when bloggers come out with books, but Amy Chaplin has been working as a vegetarian chef for 20 years, and she knows her stuff.
Favorites: Roasted Winter Vegetables and Arugula Salad with Mustard Dressing, Spicy Chickpea Stew, Beet Chickpea Cakes, and Roasted Fall Vegetable Cannellini Bean Stew with Spelt Berries and Kale.
And, upcoming cookbooks that I know will be favorites:
Street Vegan: We’re going to New York next month, and one of the things I was most excited about doing was finally going to the Cinnamon Snail food truck. Now it looks like it might never happen; the owners had trouble getting a permit and are closing up shop at the end of this month. It’s sad news, but it would be much sadder if it weren’t for the Cinnamon Snail cookbook coming out in May. Will my own vanilla bourbon crème brulée donuts or Gochujang burger be as good as the ones sold on the food truck? Probably not, but since we never got to try the real deal who will know?
My New Roots: Sarah Britton’s blog of the same name was one of the very first ones I went to, back when I was baking a ton but didn’t think I would ever learn how to cook. Following her healthy, somewhat hippie (in the best way) recipes helped me ease into vegetarian cooking, and some of her creations are still in regular rotation over here.
The First Mess: Even before Laura Wright announced that she has a cookbook in the works I was going to include her name here, if only because her blog is my very favorite food blog and I knew she’d have a book out sooner than later. She’s too good not to. Most food blog writing is obnoxious filler that needs to be space barred over (they. write. like. this. or like: this. is. the. most. amazing. thing. you. will. eat.) but I always read what Laura has to say. She gardens and she comes up with creative and healthy meals that look restaurant-worthy but aren’t all that hard to make. Pre-order for sure.