I’ve been vegetarian since I was 13 or so, which means I’ve spent more of my life as a veggie than I haven’t. I don’t really feel the need to bang on about it as I’m aware people can find such topics frightfully boring, but I’m always surprised when people are shocked to hear that I don’t eat meat and fish.
I think the surprise stems from the fact that people know I love food – I really do love food – and it’s hard for some people to associate being a passionate face-stuffer with excluding meat and fish. Because of course vegetarian food is dull! Vegetarian food is samey! Vegetarian food is relentlessly awful and you must live such a pitiful existence!
I can see why these assumptions come about as it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve felt mainstream restaurants have catered better for vegetarians. I don’t think meat substitutes always help either. If people’s only experience of vegetarian dishes is taking a carnivore recipe and swapping out the meat/fish for Quorn or similar, I can see why you wouldn’t be particularly enamoured. I’ll happily have a Quorn sausage at a family BBQ, but I don’t want to eat Quorn “gammon steak” or Quorn “bacon lardons”. The idea of “vegetarian scampi” makes me want to do a little sick.
For me, the enjoyment of being vegetarian comes from celebrating vegetables.
Indian food does this spectacularly well as does Middle Eastern food. Then of course there’s Mexican food. And what about those rather lovely Southeast Asian flavours?
THERE IS SO MUCH WE CAN ENJOY EATING.
So I thought I’d share some of my favourite recipe books that cater particularly well for vegetarians, books that feature genuinely delicious recipes that *anyone* would enjoy.
They’re not all strictly “vegetarian recipe books” (I’ll point out which ones also have fish/meat dishes) but they all showcase A LOT of amazing veggie dishes and they’re all books I turn to time and time again for everything from midweek meals for one to crowd-ready dinner party ideas.
Thug Kitchen – Eat Like You Give a F*ck
I resisted buying this book for a long time because whilst I really do enjoy swearing more than I should, I thought the idea of a recipe book littered with “LOLsome curse words” would drive me round the bend. It actually turned out to be funnier to read than I expected, but do be prepared for some attitude. The recipes are SO worth it though.
Expect SoCal flavours (those taco recipes are not messing about) and to not even notice that the recipes are actually all vegan.
Thug Kitchen Party Grub: Eat Clean, Party Hard
Sticking with the Thug Kitchen goodness, this book is for crowd entertaining and has everything you could possibly need to have a kickass party or just a weekend football fest. Sure there are great recipes for enchiladas, pizzas, banh mi and quesadillas, but there’s also everything from cocktail recipes to badass brunch recipes.
As with the first book, it’s all vegan.
Elly Pear’s Fast Days & Feast Days
This fabulous book showcases just how delicious living on the 5:2 diet can be, but you certainly don’t need to be a 5:2 type to enjoy it. I’m not following the 5:2 but I still appreciate being able to choose between “feast” and “fast” recipes and whilst this isn’t a vegetarian book (there are some fish recipes) the majority of the book is vegetarian and it really is a wonderful celebration of vegetables.
Root veg and halloumi fritters with frying pan flatbreads, anyone?
Jackie Kearney’s Vegan Street Food
I’ve already blogged about this PERFECT BOOK in great detail (here) but this is the book I buy fellow vegetarians who are bored of the usual pasta/risotto/quiche nonsense. Featuring vegan recipes from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, this book really is very special and whilst some of the recipes take a bit longer than others, they’re always worth it. I’ve not had a meal from it yet that wasn’t worth the effort and it has really opened my eyes to new ways of cooking.
Honestly Healthy Cleanse
I really don’t believe all the “alkaline diet” stuff and I wouldn’t feel comfortable suggesting someone followed the diet plans in this book, but I *do* really rate the recipes I’ve tried from it. There are plenty in here that I make time and time again simply because they’re delicious, regardless of their light and healthy credentials or cleansing claims. Some of the salad dressings in particular are just ridiculously wonderful.
River Cottage Light & Easy
Whilst this isn’t a vegetarian recipe book, it’s completely dairy and wheat free and has lots of great veggie recipes in it. I don’t own this book myself but my parents have it and cook from it a lot and everything I’ve tried has been SO SO good. Momma D really rates it.
River Cottage Veg Every Day
Another fave at Chez Dinsey, this one from Hugh *is* completely vegetarian. There are over 200 recipes and you won’t need to go online to find speciality ingredients or faff about too much to make them. A great choice for anyone looking to incorporate more vegetables into their diet.
The Cranks Bible
One of the most famous veggie books there is? I couldn’t omit this one as I grew up enjoying Cranks recipes. I see these dishes as part of my childhood. It’s pretty much the opposite of Thug Kitchen, but with over 200 classic meat-free recipes this is a staple on many a veggie’s bookshelf.
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to the special BBC Good Food mags that are released every summer and Christmas. These magazines are BRILLIANT and I refer to them more than any recipe book. They’re £3.90 each and the recipes inside are all on the BBC Good Food website for free so you could argue that buying them in mag format is pointless, but they’re so great to flick through for dinner inspiration and I much prefer having a physical copy of something I can refer to in the kitchen rather than trying to muck about with my iPhone.
They really are great magazines and they’re worth looking out for in the supermarket.
Happy cooking 🙂
Want some veggie recipes RIGHT NOW? Here are 12 of my faves: http://poppyd.com/12-healthy-vegetarian-dinner-ideas/