Looking for vegetarian cookbooks and recipe ideas? Whether you’re embracing plant-based eating for the first time or you’re looking for new veggie ideas to freshen up your mid-week repertoire, the right cookery books can be an invaluable resource. Here’s our pick of the essentials – you’ll never lack for vegetarian inspiration again.
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What’s it best for? Seasonal, colourful, doable veggie winners.
Description: A respect for vegetables and the belief that they belong at the heart of a recipe is what drives this book, and it’s jammed with more than 200 vibrant ideas, all of them achievable and made with easy-to-find ingredients. The salads are hearty (when it’s cold outside, go for giant couscous with herbs and walnuts), the soups are hefty and there’s a whole section on comfort food and feasts. Try curried bubble and squeak, roast jacket chips with merguez spices, or linguine with mint and almond pesto.
Stand-out recipe: The vegeree. Upgrade your standard weekend kedgeree by replacing the fish with creamy, roasted aubergine.
When it was published: September 2011
Wholefood Heaven in a Bowl: Natural, Nutritious and Delicious Wholefood Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul, David and Charlotte Bailey, £16.99
What’s it best for? Global comfort food.
Description: Of all the queues at Islington’s Whitecross Street Market, the one at David and Charlotte Bailey’s Wholefood Heaven van is probably the longest. This book is an expression of their business’s ethos (that food should be unprocessed, healthy and nutritious), and it takes inspiration from every corner of the globe. Most recipes are of the warming, cosy kind: try spelt pikelets with mascarpone for breakfast, sweet polenta cakes and Asian greens for lunch, and pho with pak choi and brown rice noodles for dinner. You’ll also find recipes for sides such as hazelnut dukkah and kimchi, as well as healthy(ish) desserts, including blueberry cobbler with lime and coconut.
Stand-out recipe: Buddha bowls, of which David and Charlotte sell huge quantities from their van. It’s a massaman curry with new potatoes, pineapple chunks, brown rice, kimchi pickle and a sprinkling of omega seeds – creamy, tangy, sweet and nourishing.
When it was published: April 2017
What’s it best for? Luxurious, mezze-style feasts.
Description: With his original series of vibrant delis, Yotam Ottolenghi was one of the first to introduce Londoners to the wonders of a veg-centric diet. He’s all about piled-high hearty salads, and Plenty is full of them: zucchini and hazelnut, soba noodles and mango, broccolini and sweet sesame, and farro and roasted red pepper, to name a few. Everything feels fresh, inventive and luxurious, lending a new personality to vegetarian food. The flavours are largely eastern Mediterranean, so expect a little spice and lots of colour (don’t miss the spiced red lentils with cucumber yogurt).
Stand-out recipe: Burnt eggplant with tahini. You could eat it like you would popcorn.
When it was published: April 2010
What’s it best for? Super-speedy midweek inspiration.
Description: No time? No problem! Rukmini Iyer’s genius book is pure one-pan recipes, making dinner prep a lightning-quick affair (plus there’s hardly any washing up). A few minutes’ chopping, chuck it all in, whack it in the oven and 30 minutes or so later, there’s a delicious, healthy dinner on the table. Try Mediterranean courgettes with olives, feta and tomatoes; chickpea and coconut curry; or miso aubergines with tofu, sesame and chilli. Most recipes are accompanied by beautiful, vibrant photography (Rukmini is a food stylist by day) and there are sections for longer recipes, if you’re cooking at the weekend.
Stand-out recipe: All-in-one dal with roasted shallots, coriander, pomegranate and cashews. A jewel-studded treat.
When it was published: July 2018
What’s it best for: Old-school, fail-safe classics.
Description: When its flagship West End restaurant opened in 1961, Cranks was one of very few vegetarian restaurants in the UK. It was the pioneer for meat-free dining and, despite closing down after 40 years of business in 2001, the Cranks name is still revered and its recipes live on in this cookbook. Written by David Canter, who along with wife Kay founded Cranks, it’s heavy on cooking techniques (you’ll learn the art of making sauces) and wholesome, simple recipes: lentil and cheese wedges, homity pie and homemade lemonade, for example. Because it’s a classic cookbook, reissued with a new cover, there’s no recipe photography – just beautiful sketch-style illustrations.
Stand-out recipe: Nut roast. A classic go-to veggie main in the 1960s, and just as delicious today. It’s all caramelised onions, herbs, cashews, wholemeal breadcrumbs and a secret cheesy layer.
When it was published: August 2013
What’s it best for: Lively, aromatic recipes for Indian food lovers.
Description: This book is stuffed with recipes inspired by Meera’s Gujarati-British family – think paneer kebabs, mushroom and walnut samosas, and lime pickle rice with roast squash. Most of her recipes are low on effort, making it a go-to book for midweek inspiration. British ingredients play a big role in Meera’s spice-infused recipes (try Brussels sprout thoran, or Gardeners’ Question Time pilau and green beans with cashew nuts and coconut), and there’s plenty of showstopper ideas for when you’ve got guests. How about a huge dosa, with coconut potatoes, roasted cauliflower korma and sticky mango paneer skewers?
Stand-out recipe: Homemade poppadoms with tomato masala. Never have poppadoms looked so fresh.
When it was published: July 2016
What’s it best for: Global crowd-pleasers.
Description: This one comes from Mildreds, one of London’s best-loved vegetarian restaurants (there’s always a queue). It’s a laid-back, friendly place, and the recipes in this book are just as accessible. The majority use easily found ingredients, so it works well for hassle-free midweek dining (although bear in mind that most recipes seem to be for six to eight people, so might need scaling down or boxing up for lunch/dinner another day). Try worldwide dishes such as saffron pea risotto; Korean hot and sour soup; beetroot, apple and red cabbage borscht; and minestrone verde. There are also vegan and gluten-free ideas, too.
Stand-out recipe: Thai-spiced roasted red pepper, sweet potato, ginger and coconut milk soup. What a belly warmer.
When it was published: May 2015
What’s it best for: Season-led recipes, perfect for midweek meals.
Description: Expect around 100 recipes, almost all of which can be on the table in under 30 minutes. It’s an honest portrayal of Nigel Slater’s dinner habits, putting the focus firmly on veggie produce. Dishes are usually named after a trio of ingredients (such as miso, mushrooms and pak choi; tomatoes, basil and breadcrumbs; and halloumi, melon and chilli) and the book is divided into how you might cook or serve your dinner: in a bowl, on a plate, in the oven, or on the grill, for example. You can also pick up the other cookbook in this series, Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter.
Stand-out recipe: Mustard guacamole and mozzarella bagel. What’s not to love?
When it was published: May 2019
What it’s best for: Comfort-food dinners, served in big bowls.
Description: An extension of Swedish author Nina Olsson’s popular blog, Nourish Atelier, Bowls of Goodness does exactly what it says on the tin. Nina’s eclectic recipes are divided into breakfasts, soups, salads, grain bowls, noodles, hearty meals, sides and desserts, and there’s an especially diverse range of salads. Taste the world with everything from loyal lentil chilli to laksa lux bowl and watermelon poke, and leave room for almond-filled dumplings in blackberry sauce.
Stand-out recipe: Moroccan-inspired harissa, cauliflower and carrot salad. Big on colour and taste.
When it was published: January 2017
What it’s best for: Slimline, meat-free versions of your favourite dinners.
Description: Full of jovial character, just like the authors themselves, this book is a good go-to for those hoping to shed a few pounds. Pretty much all the recipes are healthy takes on popular British classics (including Lancashire hotpot and toad in the hole) and there’s a decent on-the-go lunches section (vegetarian sushi is surprisingly quick to make). There are sweet ideas, too, such as quick pumpkin pancakes with apple compote, and Aztec chocolate avocado mousse.
Stand-out recipe: Mediterranean biker brunch. Who’d have thought orange zest works well in a fry-up?
When it was published: May 2017
What it’s best for: Vegophiles with time to make sophisticated masterpieces. It’s a great one for the coffee table, too.
Description: Californian chef Jeremy Fox, who made his name at Napa Valley’s Michelin-starred Ubuntu restaurant, presents a homage to vegetables. The book is arranged alphabetically according to vegetable name, and the recipes, though inventive and sophisticated, are achievable – if you’ve got time to spare, and a well-stocked larder. Try everything from peas, white chocolate and macadamia to simple grilled corn and lentils, garlic and parmesan. The recipe food styling and photography is ridiculously elegant, and have you seen that modernist book cover? Worthy of hanging on the kitchen wall, we reckon.
Stand-out recipe: Charred whole broccoli with miso bagna cauda. It might take you half the day to make it, but it sure looks the part.
When it was published: April 2017