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The top 5 vegan cookbooks of 2015, plus 5 great recipes to try: Going Vegan
on November 30, 2015 at 8:00 AM, updated November 30, 2015 at 10:49 AM
What a great year in the kitchen! In 2015, I've had the pleasure of cooking recipes out of all manner of vegan cookbooks, trying out dishes ranging from classical French fare that you might serve at a fancy dinner party, to updated versions of familiar weeknight standards.
With all those great cookbooks, coming up with a Top Five list is no easy task. These are my favorite cookbooks of the year for a number of reasons: they all take an enthusiastic, no-apologies approach to plant-based cooking; they represent a broad spectrum of cooking styles and have mainstream appeal; and their recipes are unbelievably good.
Need ideas for Christmas or Hanukkah? Any of these titles would make a great gift. And to get your appetite going, we've got a recipe from each book.>"Crossroads" by Tal Ronnen.
5. "Crossroads" by Tal Ronnen ($35; Artisan): Chef Tal Ronnen is one of the biggest names in the vegan cooking world, and he counts Oprah Winfrey, President Bill Clinton and Sir Paul McCartney among his many fans. His Los Angeles restaurant Crossroads has become a crossroad itself, where vegans, vegetarians and omnivores gather to enjoy good food. This beautifully photographed collection of 100 Mediterannean-inspired recipes captures the spirit of that restaurant, and shows how sophisticated vegan cuisine can be in the hands of someone who is trained in classical French cooking. But these aren't overly complicated chef recipes with long lists of unfamiliar ingredients. And these aren't dishes centered on faux meats or tofu. Instead, these are dishes that put vegetables front and center, showing how glorious vegetables can be for home cooks who have a little bit of ambition and time to cook.
Recipe to try: Mushroom Farro Soup, a frugal way to use up vegetable scraps, which provide the oomph for the soup's broth.>"The Easy Vegan Cookbook" by Kathy Hester.
4. "The Easy Vegan Cookbook" by Kathy Hester ($21.99; Page Street Publishing Co.): One of 2015's biggest cookbook trends focused on easy recipes that are perfect for those pull-your-hair-out nights when there doesn't seem to be enough time to cook and take-out seems like the only option. Veteran cookbook author Kathy Hester has the solution with 80-plus recipes that are practically effortless and come together in almost no time. Most of the dishes are made with pantry staples, so if you've got dried pasta, canned tomatoes and veggie broth on hand, you've got the building blocks for dinner. And she offers some great tips on meal planning that can help cooks out of mealtime ruts, along with tips designed to make dinner as easy as possible to make.
Recipe to try: Apple-Braised Tempeh and Butternut Squash Bake, a great dish for busy weeknights, since it only requires 15 minutes of active time in the kitchen.>"Teff Love" by Kittee Berns.
3. "Teff Love" by Kittee Berns ($19.95; Book Publishing Company): Portlander Kittee Berns fell in love with Ethiopian food when she first encountered it 25 years ago, and since then has learned how to make dozens of the cuisine's dishes. Many Ethiopian dishes are naturally vegan because of the country's long tradition of religious "fasting," when no animal products are consumed. These "happen-to-be-vegan" stews and stir-fries excited her palate like no other cuisine she'd encountered. In her debut cookbook, Berns shares her recipes for many of these traditional dishes, along with some of her own non-traditional creations that feature east-African ingredients (like baked goodies made with teff flour). The result is a cookbook that demystifies a cuisine that many cooks find intimidating. Let it be the start of a cooking adventure of a lifetime.
Recipe to try: Ethiopian-Style Mac 'N' Cheesie, a spicy twist on vegan macaroni and cheese, thanks to spicy berbere powder.>"Eat Like You Give A Damn" by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten.
2. "Eat Like You Give A Damn" by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten ($24.95; Book Publishing Company): With their Portland store Herbivore Clothing Company, Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten have spent years selling t-shirts and other garments that promote their belief that being vegan is all about compassion for animals mixed with some old-fashioned common sense about how our food choices affect the world around us. This debut collection of more than 100 recipes takes their message from the shirt to the plate, with a range of dishes from family-friendly fare to elaborate dishes that are celebratory enough for a holiday feast. They weave their own stories into the recipes, in a relatable writing style that makes their enthusiasm for living a compassionate life filled with tasty food downright infectious.
Recipe to try: Sunny Split Pea Soup, a warming, hearty soup that's perfect for Portland's rainy season.>"Food52 Vegan" by Gena Hamshaw.
1. "Food52 Vegan" by Gena Hamshaw ($22.99; Ten Speed Press): Of all of this year's great cookbooks, this could be a game-changer in making vegan food an appealing and viable option for mainstream folks who are looking for ways to eat more plant-based meals, if not make the switch entirely. The 60 recipes are presented under the banner of Food52, the online culinary powerhouse, where vegan isn't the focus, but is given serious respect by Gena Hamshaw, who writes their New Veganism column featuring recipes that are both healthy and appealing to anyone. Hamshaw addresses the concern that vegan food may be boring and tasteless or too-complicated to prepare by building recipes around fresh produce and whole foods. The result are dishes that are accessible, delicious and crowd-pleasing.
Recipe to try: Cauliflower and Oyster Mushroom Tacos, featuring crispy roasted cauliflower and chewy sauteed mushrooms - a great textural combination.
- The top 5 vegan cookbooks of 2014.
- The top 5 vegan cookbooks of 2013.
- The top 5 vegan cookbooks of 2012.
- The top 5 vegan cookbooks of 2011.
-- Grant Butler
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