We’ve started getting a weekly fruit + veg box delivered every Wednesday. Whilst we are not vegetarians, it definitely feels like there’s movement these days towards more of a produce-heavy way of eating which we have embraced. We still eat a fair amount of meat but I try to be more judicious in the way that we use it and put vegetables/grains at the centre of our meals rather than relying on a slab of meat to do the job and having a selection of seasonal vegetables arrive at our front door every week has really helped us to do that.
Although I occasionally post some of our meals on instagram, I don’t tend to blog about the savoury food that we eat very often. When it comes to cooking (vs baking), I’d much rather follow someone else’s recipe. The pressure of producing something edible for dinner is just too much generally for me to want to wing it. Luckily, there’s been a whole glut of seriously amazing cookbooks that have come out recently, many from some of my favourite bloggers. Every time I leaf through the pages of a new offering, I feel a rising sense of panic that there just aren’t enough meals in the day to try all of the recipes that I want to. Some of the books below are totally vegetarian, others contain a mix of recipes. All are worth additions to your collection.
The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen by Erin Alderson – The idea behind Erin’s book is so simple but so clever; 50 base recipes, each four different seasonal interpretations. Given that I’m often looking for ways to make the most of whatever has appeared in our fruit + veg box, it’s no surprises that I find this really helpful. The recipes range for breakfasts to desserts with everything in between but I’m particularly smitten with the lunch section. I sometimes struggle to come up with interesting ideas of what to have for lunch, particularly on days when I’m working from home and Erin’s soba noodle bowl has become a staple (above is a variation on the spring version in the book with roasted mange tout and sesame seeds). A batch of her roasted vegetable and black bean enchiladas are waiting for me at home tonight.
A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones – I picked this book up a couple of months ago having seen a lot of press about it. The author, Anna Jones, previously worked for Jamie Oliver. It’s a big book (and beautifully photography by Brian Ferry) and whilst all the recipes are vegetarian, it feels very accessible, even for a fairly committed carnivore like me. The favourite thing I’ve made so far is a salad of quinoa (well, it was supposed to be farro but I used quinoa) with roasted sweet potato, leeks and romesco sauce. I think I proceeded to eat the leftover romesco sauce with everything in sight because it was so good. I have bookmarked the lemon-roasted feta and tomato salad for summer eating and sometimes have dreams about the sweet potato and white bean quesadillas.
Bowl + Spoon by Sara and Hugh Forte – I’m guessing that most of you don’t need an introduction to Sara and Hugh. Like many others, I have and love their first self-titled book and was eagerly awaiting the follow up. Sara’s recipes always appeal to me and I’m a huge fan of Hugh’s photography; their site was one of the first that I found that made me realise that food photography doesn’t always have to look the same to be beautiful. The concept of this book is ‘bowl food’ which is something that I am totally on board with as well – we have two shallow bowls that I bought very cheaply from Muji a couple of years ago (my boyfriend refers to them as our ‘doggy bowls’) and I’m pretty sure we eat 90% of our meals out of them. So far, I’ve made an eclectic mix of recipes including the smoky tortilla soup, a version of Sara’s breakfast crumble and a batch of the SK sriracha (so good). Only the fact that there are a limited number of meals in the day has prevented me from making everything in the book. Most of the recipes are vegetarian although, as with the first book there are a couple with fish/turkey.
Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady – This is another book that I’ve been waiting a long time for. I always feel such a sense of calm when reading Tara’s blog and that has translated perfectly into her debut book. Tara’s book is not vegetarian (and her method of cooking a burger like a steak, in a little butter and white miso has changed my life forever) but I defy anyone not to be inspired by Tara’s words and recipes. I love the way that she manages to weave the elements of her culinary heritage together and how Tara makes the whole thing feel so intimate; not least because all of the photographs were taken in Tara’s house throughout the course of the year that she was writing the book. So many of the recipes I’ve tried have been wonderful (not least the chocolate chip cookies which are worth buying the book alone for) but I have to say that the roasted red pepper, feta and almond salad was a revelation.
A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry – Clearly, a book about chicken is not vegetarian but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it given how much I cook from it (plus Diana Henry’s previous book, A Change of Appetite, is pretty vegetable heavy). We don’t eat a huge amount of red meat at home but we do quite often eat chicken and this book contains pretty much every recipe you ever need, and then some more. The recipes wander the globe and range in complexity so there is something for pretty much every occasion and you know that you can always trust a recipe from Diana Henry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made the salad of chipotle-griddled chicken with quinoa and lime crème fraiche (although, in the interests of full disclosure, I sometimes leave the chicken out which defeats the purpose slightly but the combination of quinoa, harissa roasted tomatoes and avocado is pretty tough to beat).
Five Quarters by Rachel Roddy – This book only just squeezed into this post as I’ve only had my copy since Sunday morning but within 12 hours of opening it, I’d already made two recipes (the tomatoes stuffed with rice and served with crispy matchstick potatoes (above) and my absolute favourite vegetable dish in the world of peas with bacon (below)). Everything about Rachel’s first book tells me that it’s going to be one that I will turn to time and time again. The recipes are simple in the way that the best Italian food is and the words and photographs transport me to a corner of Rome that I’ve never visited and make me long for a life that I’ve never had. It’s a keeper for sure.
(Links above are to amazon.co.uk for the sake of ease – I don’t earn anything from them. Apart from Erin’s book which was very kindly sent to me by the publisher, Fair Winds Press, I purchased all the others myself).