I love having a solid cookbook collection on hand. It is one of my favorite activities to pull out a few and thumb through them on a weekend morning as I am prepping my meal plan for the week ahead. I have some favorite go-to recipes but I also like to explore and try a new recipe from time to time.
We try to be very intentional about our meal planning, ensuring that the ingredients we need will serve multiple uses. For example- if we are doing a recipe that calls for cilantro, and we know cilantro is sold in a specific amount, then we plan another meal that will incorporate the cilantro so that we use it all up before it goes bad (as herbs can quickly do). For organization I use a classic sized May Designs notebook with the "meal plan" inside pages option. On the left I plan out the meals we will eat over the week and on the right I divide the page up based on the grocery store layout (produce, dairy, frozen, canned, dry) and create my grocery list.
These five cookbooks are my go-tos for basics, to vegetarian, to simple favorites!
THE LOVE & LEMONS COOKBOOK: This is easily my favorite cookbook of all time! It is 100% vegetarian with vegan substitutions for most recipes as well as many gluten-free options. The premise of this cookbook is to eat seasonally- so the recipes are broken-down by produce item. The recipes are also simple and straight forward (plus every recipe has a photo!), which I love because it is easy for vegetarian/vegan recipes to get complicated and extravagant. I first became a fan of the Love & Lemons blog and after I learned she had created a cookbook I knew I had to get my hands on it. My favorite recipes in this book are the Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Chipotle Cream (pg. 99), Green Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese (pg. 247) and the Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos (pg. 219).
THE FOREST FEAST: I had been eyeing this cookbook for a while and finally snagged it at a bookstore when we were traveling a few months ago. I love how simple and straight forward this all-vegetarian cookbook is. I don't think there is a recipe that uses more than 5 or 6 ingredients! And in cases where dough or other labor-intensive ingredients are called for the cookbook doesn't say to make it, it just says to use it, which I interpret as to purchase it :). I am also a huge fan of the author's use of hand-lettering, watercolor illustrations and photography skills, it's one of the lovliest books just to look at. My favorite items from this book are the Avocado Egg-In-A-Hole (pg. 164), Garlic Knots (pg. 28), and the Strawberry Arugula Wrap (pg. 154).
JOY OF COOKING: This cookbook is a kitchen staple, seriously. It's like the mothership of cookbooks. It is 1132 pages of any and everything you could ever need to know about cooking. A few years ago we made lobster for Christmas and this book walked through the step-by-step process of what to do. And since this is the only non-vegetarian cookbook on my list (but certainly not the only non-vegetarian cookbook I own) it's worth noting that as a vegetarian I have learned not to shy away from recipes that include meat but to substitute my own meatless options such as veggie broth, vegan meat crumbles, or extra veggies. This is where I go for all of my basics and I can't live without the Quick Tomato Sauce (pg. 562), the simple Pizza Dough (pg.607) or the Basic Pie or Pastry Dough (pg. 665).
THUG KITCHEN: While I have a personal distaste for the given name of this cookbook it none-the-less is where I turn for more exciting and elaborate vegan recipes. The book is a bit abrasive with curse words riddled across every page but the recipes are packed with flavor. And not only does it have some great recipes but it also covers some of the basics- like homemade vegetable broth using scraps and dry-fried or baked tofu- so even the novice vegan can get started. My favorite recipes have been the Mixed Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna (pg. 150), Tortilla Soup (pg. 98), and the Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Coleslaw (pg. 166).
PLENTY: This is perhaps the most beautiful and decadent vegetarian cookbook of all time. Gifted to me a few years ago by my mother-in-law I have fallen in love with many of the dishes in this book. The recipes are a bit more labor-intensive than some of the other cookbooks mentioned here but if you're up for a little extra work for a huge pay-off they are totally worth the effort. These are the kinds of meals I like to prepare for special occasions and holidays. My hands-down favorite tofu recipe of all time is the Back Pepper Tofu (pg. 44), additionally I love the Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato (pg. 126) and the Mushroom and Herb Polenta (pg. 264).
Okay, who's hungry?! I would love to know what your favorite cookbooks are (vegetarian or not!) so please feel free to share.