Most Inspiring Meatless Cookbooks

I admit it – I ‘m an addict. My downfall? Cookbooks. I had to start writing cookbooks to justify my little cookbook “problem.” I’m also partial to cooking magazines, free product recipe booklets, and anything with a picture of fresh tomatoes. And even though the cookbook collection has outgrown my kitchen and now spills over into the entryway and up the stairs to my home office, there are several meatless cookbooks that I return to time and again. These books inspire me, challenge me, and have helped me become a more creative cook and a better cookbook author myself. Check them out. I guarantee you’ll find them just as valuable as I do.

The Greek Vegetarian by Diane Kochilas (www.dianekochilas.com). If you love Mediterranean food, and Greek food in particular, you must buy this book! Every recipe is easy to prepare, uses readily available ingredients, and tastes great. Try the Potatoes Stewed with Kalamata Olives. Great taste that everyone in the family loved, including my daughter-in-law who doesn’t like olives, the picky two-year old grandson, and even my nine-month old granddaughter!  Another favorite was the Legume and Wheat-Berry Stew from Crete, full of several kinds of beans and chewy wheat berries and flavored with dill.

Olive Trees and Honey – A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World by Gil Marks (www.gilmarks.com).  This is one of the first books I grab when I am “inventing” a new recipe. Each section is sub-divided according to geographic area/country, almost every recipe includes several variations, and there is lots of wonderful cultural information too. If you want a cookbook that also expands your knowledge of the world, this book is for you! Try the Turkish Lentil-Vegetable Stew, wonderfully aromatic with the unusual addition of dried cloves, or especially good for the summer season, Hungarian Wine Soup, combining fresh fruit and my favorite flavoring ingredient – red wine!

Soy of Cooking – by Marie Oser (www.veggiechef.com). This is a great book if you are just learning how to cook with meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh, seitan, etc. The recipes are creative, easy to follow, and delicious. The Yams ‘n Cranberries has become a traditional family Thanksgiving dish (no marshmallows in sight!), and I often make the Tofu in Burgundy Sauce when entertaining. There are also recipes for breads, appetizers, and a whole section on Pizza and Pasta!

366 Healthful Ways to Cook Tofu and Other Meat Alternatives by Robin Robertson (veganplanet.blogspot.com). This cookbook is the one I reach for on those nights when dinner time is fast approaching and I have nothing planned. Although out of print, you can still find copies on Amazon and Robin has several newer cookbooks available on her site.  Like Soy of Cooking, this is a great book if you are learning to use meat substitutes. As someone who hates to wash dishes, the One-Dish Meals section is my favorite closely followed by the Under Wraps, Stuffed, and Skewered section. Most of the ingredients are already in my cupboard, and the recipes are written so that you can easily substitute one plant based protein for another.  A couple of my favorite recipes here, Seitan with Orzo and Feta and Stuffed Summer Squash Florentine.

Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen (www.molliekatzen.com).  This was the first vegetarian cookbook I ever owned, and no list of “best” meatless cookbooks could exclude it. Mollie Katzen is famous for bringing vegetarian cooking into the mainstream. All of her cookbooks are excellent, but I am especially  partial to Moosewood (all versions). You won’t find much in the way of seitan, tempeh, or even tofu here. Most of the recipes use traditional meatless proteins like eggs, cheeses, beans and nuts. The Scheherazade Casserole, full of bulgur, ground soybeans, and feta cheese, is the perfect potluck dish. Just be prepared. Once you take it to one potluck, it will be requested every time! I also love the Cauliflower Marranca, a wonderful dish made with rice or millet, cauliflower, and lemon. Perfect comfort food.  There are sandwiches, salads, casseroles and stuffed veggie recipes. All good and worth trying.

Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann (veganlunchbox.blogspot.com). Making kids happy with lunch isn’t easy, but my friend Jennifer did it! Luckily she also published this book so now it’s easier for everyone else to make their kids happy with lunch. Always creative, attractive and healthy, you’ll find kid-friendly versions of Tofu Fish Sticks, quick and easy Chickpea Salad, and even vegan Lunch Box Fondue! Although Jennifer planned lunch with her son in mind, all these recipes are perfect for adults tired of the same old brown bag lunch too.  Watch for Jennifer’s new cookbook coming out this fall, Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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