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Monday, December 08, 2014

Mostly Vegetable Cookbooks

These books are focused on vegetables, but are not strictly vegetarian. They are each written by very accomplished food writers and great to keep or give ('tis the season after all). 

Rick Rodgers created 450 recipes for The Big Book of Sides, a collection that covers not just vegetables but beans, grains, salads, quick breads and rolls, pickles and so much more. In fact, many of these side dishes can be combined to make a meal without anyone noticing there is no main dish! The book can you get your through any holiday, but also weeknight meals.

The nice thing about this book, and why I think it’s destined to become classic, is that it covers the basics like how to perfectly steam rice or make a potato salad as well as more adventuresome showstopper dishes like Portobello Mushroom “Fondue”, Freekeh with  Zucchini, Yogurt and Dill, Miso Glazed Eggplant with Ginger and Garlic or Black Eyed Peas and Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. 

This is a cookbook and also a reference book, offering up guidance on cooking various ingredients ranging from artichokes through zucchini with information on how to buy, store and prepare from an award-winning cookbook author and cooking instructor.

The recipes in Shroom are wildly creative. No run of the mill creamed mushroom or 70’s throwback mushroom stroganoff. Recipes are organized by the type of mushroom, and you’ll find just a few button, cremini and portobello mushroom recipes. Even those are not the expected “portobello mushroom burger” but Portobello Mushroom Shakshuka with Baked Eggs and Israeli Feta. Mushrooms end up in recipes you’d never expect like Seared Scallops with Lion’s Mane and Truffle-Honey Pan Sauce, Squid Ink Pasta with Lobster Mushroom and Squid, Beech Mushrooms in Phyllo with Georgian Walnut Sauce and Pomegranate, or Hedgehog and Cashew Chili (yes that’s hedgehog mushrooms). 

The recipes all come with a wine pairing suggestion and each chapter has a guide to the mushrooms—how to buy them, their season, how to cook and preserve them, etc. Though the cookbook isn’t vegetarian, recipes like Porcini Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon Salt really highlight the mushrooms and make sure they are the main act. They are restaurant worthy recipes, but not overly fussy. This is the book for mushroom lovers.

Greens + Grains is the first cookbook from Molly Watson. A past Sunset magazine staff writer, she creates solid recipes and has grown a strong following at her Local Foods site. Her cookbook brings a fresh eye to the combination of greens and grains. For those who are trying to eat more whole grains but perhaps also struggling with finding more recipes for kale, chard and collard greens this book provides solutions. 

Some of the uses of grains are particularly creative like Escarole Salad with Toasted Quinoa, Greens Stuffed Cornmeal Cakes and a Chard and Quinoa Terrine. There are recipes for crackers and flatbread and “handy techniques” for storing and preparing the main ingredients. The tone of the book is authoritative but friendly and approachable. 

Disclaimer: These books were provided to me as review copies, this post includes affiliate links.