Vegetables have long been relegated to side-dish status and pushed to the edges of the plate. But times have changed. Now nobody puts broccoli in a corner.
This spring, chefs are celebrating veggies—in print—with more fanfare than ever, showing off the unlimited possibilities and flavors that fresh, seasonal produce offers.
And they’re doing it in creative ways—from sharing recipes from a rogue vegan supper club in Brooklyn to turning the dietary principles of The China Study into solid meal plans.
Add one of these five cookbooks to your kitchen shelf to make vegetable dishes that truly rock. —Lisa Elaine Held
1. Everyday Raw Detox
Meredith Baird and Matthew Kenney
This cookbook (which technically requires no cooking, since all of the recipes are raw) is a go-to guide for Vitamix junkies. It has multiple chapters filled with recipes that take blending and juicing to new levels—blended green tonics like Clean and Lean and vegetable tonics like V10.
And while beginners are often intimidated by raw food prep, for good reason, Baird and Kenney (a restaurateur and chef) make even the most inventive recipes accessible—from Beet Spaghettini with Pistachio Thyme Pesto to Shaved Celery Root Linguini with Truffle Pumpkin Seeds. (You will need a food processor.)
Bonus: It comes with a beauty chapter with recipes for nourishing skin-care and hair masks.
2. The China Study Cookbook
Leanne Campbell, PhD
T. Colin Campbell’s science-heavy tome, The China Study, took the nutrition world by storm with its impressive research on the benefits of a plant-based diet. (Here’s our cheat sheet, just in case you didn’t get to it.) Now, his daughter is helping readers apply the principles that research pointed towards.
Campbell’s recipes contain little to no added oils, fat, or salt, and minimal sweeteners, and while they’re all vegan, you won’t find faux meats or cheeses—it’s all fresh vegetables, grains, and legumes. Think Lemon Tahini Quinoa Salad and Corn and Tomatillo Stew.
The simple recipes, most of which contain under 10 ingredients, won’t win you a spot on “Top Chef.” Instead, you might actually take the time to make them at home.
3. The Passionate Vegetable
Those who don’t know where to start may be intimidated by the density of this 300+ page book, but its recipes are actually super simple. It’s full of colorful salads, vegetable soups, and stir-frys, which are the focus. But it also includes fish, chicken, and lots of grain-inspired dishes.
You can draw inspiration from the story of her journey towards good health via veggies in the intro, and from pages of her advice on all things nutrition, from protein and carbs to organics and alkalinity.
4. Vegan Secret Supper
Anderson started hosting “rogue” multi-course meals in her tiny apartment in Vancouver, and has since moved Vegan Secret Supper to Montreal and Brooklyn.
Her recipes, and the photos that illustrate them, are elegant and innovative, despite her lack of a culinary background. “For me, cooking is trial, error, and love,” she writes in the introduction.
Most recipes will require a significant amount of prep time, so this is a cookbook made for weekend dinner parties where you want to show off (“AND it’s vegan!” you’ll boast). Who wouldn’t be impressed by Fennel Portobello Soup with Smoke-Infused Olive Oil or Sherry-Roasted Root Vegetables on Brown Rice Kale Pilaf?
5. Vegetable Literacy
Vegetable Literacy is a text book and cookbook in one, providing a serious education on the many members of the plant kingdom—and what to do with them in the kitchen.
The start of each chapter tells the starring vegetable’s story—it’s family, history, nutrition value, and varieties. Madison then shares how to use the whole plant, kitchen tips, and its companions.
Carrots, for example, come in Yellowstone and White Satin, lots of flavor resides in their skins, so you should scrub (not peel) them, and dill and thyme are their friends. And the recipes that follow elevate the vegetables to new heights—Carrot Soup with Tangled Collard Greens in Coconut Butter and Dukkah and Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream.
Trust us: Vegetables have never, ever, looked as hot as they do in this book.