Cooking doesn’t come easy to everyone—myself included. I am not a good cook at all, and often come up short when thinking of new ways to eat things like veggies or pasta or the staples. Especially now that I have a kid, deciding what to make can be sheer torture, to be honest. My brain just doesn’t care about creative meals or recipes—but that’s where cookbooks have come in handy.
They can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, they’re really fun—especially the ones that have gorgeous pictures or illustrations, or the ones with anecdotes or cooking/foodie lore mixed in. I like the hybrid cookbooks the best, but the more I explore the genre, the more I’m loving it.
Vegetables are something my son doesn’t love, so finding new ways of making them can be challenging. I did find some cookbooks with lots of yummy recipes for veggie dishes and while I’ve tried some with him, I’m not sure you could ever have enough cookbooks that make you want to eat your veggies.
Pantry to Plate: Kitchen Staples for Simple and Easy Cooking by Emily Stephenson
This little cookbook is not only adorable (the illustrations are so fun), but these recipes are easy to make and don’t require lots of talent or skill in the kitchen. Trust me. Easy veggie recipes include carrot ginger soup, spiced peas, roasted veggies with tahini sauce, baked sweet potatoes with spicy lentils, and baked polenta with greens and tomatoes, to name a few. There are also pasta dishes, breakfast recipes, lots of protein dishes—this cookbook has it all. And it’s not a huge, heavy cookbook, so it’s easy to have next to you while you make the dish.
The Essential Vegetarian Indian Cookbook: 125 Classic Recipes to Enjoy at Home by Pavani Nandula
Indian food is one of my favorites, and though I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t eat a lot of meat—so this is perfect. Vegetable biryani, okra fries, spicy corn stir-fry, vegetable pakora (one of my favorite dishes), vegetable fried rice, vegetable korma—how can you possibly resist these? While my son doesn’t always go for the same things I do, he loves the veggie fried rice and vegetable biryani, and anything that gets him to eat some veggies is a win in my book. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you won’t miss a thing with the recipes in this one.
Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, & Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry
Not only is Bryant Terry a James Beard Award–winning chef, but he’s also a food justice activist. He creates public programming as part of his work as the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, and has multiple vegan cookbooks out. You don’t have to be vegan—or even vegetarian—to enjoy his recipes, though. Sweet corn and ginger soup, sweet potato and pumpkin soup, muscovado-roasted plantains, pumpkin-peanut fritters, sautéed sugar snap peas with spring herbs…is your mouth watering yet? How about smashed potatoes, peas, and corn in chile-garlic oil? This cookbook is packed with tasty vegan recipes that blend African, Caribbean, and Southern cuisines. (And don’t skip the dessert recipes). You may never want another cookbook after this one.
Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Jonathan Lovekin
If you’re familiar with Ottolenghi, you know this is going to be good. Spicy Moroccan carrot salad, multi-vegetable paella, pasta and fried zucchini salad, mushroom and herb polenta, and lemon and eggplant risotto are just a sampling of what is in this cookbook. This cookbook doesn’t really feel like a basic or intro cookbook, so if you’re just starting out, maybe put this one on hold for a little bit. But once you’ve got the hang of cooking, the recipes in here will have anyone eating their veggies. (I admit, this one intimidates me for my skill level, but the recipes sound amazing).
Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman
In addition to the absolutely mouth-watering breakfast recipes in here, Perelman also sneaks in veggies to meals like pizza with arugula, corn, and bacon, and winter squash flatbread with hummus and za’atar. But don’t let that distract you from the list of vegetable main dishes she also has in this cookbook. Recipes like fried green plantains with avocado black bean salsa, broccoli, cheddar, and wild rice fritters, and crispy tofu and broccoli with sesame-peanut pesto will have you making veggies for your main meal every day. This cookbook is definitely worth adding to your collection.
The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook: Wholesome, Indulgent Plant-Based Recipes by Nisha Vora
If you have an Instant Pot, you’re going to want this cookbook. Even if you’re not vegan, these recipes inspire you to break out the IP and get cooking! The best part? Lots of easy to make, yummy veggie-based meals and sides, including vegetable lasagna with basil ricotta, three-bean veggie chili, garlicky broccoli with orange zest and almonds, Thai vegetable green curry, spaghetti squash pasta puttanesca, sweet potatoes with sriracha cashew sauce…Are you hungry yet?
Frugal Vegan: Affordable, Easy, & Delicious Vegan Cooking by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee
If a cookbook has the words “affordable” and “easy” in the title, I’ll most likely take a second look. I would estimate that my kid eats about ten times his body weight every day (he’s only 4), and so I’m constantly going food shopping—so affordable is good. And did I mention that I’m not a great cook, so easy recipes are great? This book actually delivers on both counts. Lemon and pea risotto, penne with pumpkin cream sauce, kale pesto pasta, sesame broccoli, and spicy chipotle corn and zucchini? YUM. Even better if my kid doesn’t even realize there are veggies in something, like the zucchini banana bread muffins.
Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year by Del Sroufe
Maybe you’ve seen the documentary, maybe you read the magazine—this is one of the cookbooks. Even if you’re not in the mood for veggies, the recipes in this book are fabulous. But for those wanting some suggestions for yummy vegetable meals, what about some curried squash and apple soup, samosa lettuce wraps, veggie fajitas, spicy sweet-and-sour eggplant, aloo gobi, or baked spaghetti squash with spicy lentil sauce? The recipes are easy, globally inspired, and very tasty. There’s something for even the pickiest veggie eater in this collection.
So, what will you make first?