Best vegetarian cookbooks for 2022, from Anna Jones to Meera Sodha

·8-min read
 (Vegetarian Books)
(Vegetarian Books)

Whether you’re climate-conscious or simply a great friend to animals, we’ve all become much more veggie-curious in recent years.

Adopting a vegetarian diet has fast become one way of being kind to the planet. A comprehensive study in 2018 said that avoiding meat and diary is the single biggest way of reducing your carbon footprint. But doing the right thing for Mother Earth doesn’t necessarily mean you have to chomp on a carrot stick and sit sadly dreaming of a quarter pounder.

The rise in vegetarian and vegan diets mean that a whole host of recipe books have been released in recent years to cater for the ever-growing trend. Whether you’re eco-conscious, looking for a health kick, or just want to mix up your weekly meal repertoire, there’s a range of vegetarian cookbooks on offer - here’s our guide to some of the best.

One Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones

Anna Jones has been the go-to name in vegetarian cooking for a few years now, and for good reason: her recipes are healthy, simple to make, budget-friendly, and - most importantly - delicious. Her latest book is her best yet.

The dishes are still a dream (her lemon, tomato & cardamom dhal cheered my Sunday night up to no end), but this is also a guide to rethinking the way you cook. In an accessible and non-hectoring way, Jones explains how to save energy (your own, and the planet’s), how to cut down on food waste, how to shop more sustainably, and - the all important question for vegetarians - how to make sure you’re getting enough protein.

The combo of recipes that will become weekly fixtures and generous, practical information means this is bound to become the vegetarian bible in many households.

Buy now £18.39, Amazon

Asian Green by Ching-He Huang

Just looking at the gorgeous, vibrant cover of Ching-He Huang’s new cookbook makes me feel glowing and satisfied. Good job the recipes do the same thing. In the book’s introduction, she says she lives by the Chinese maxim ‘food is medicine’ - a belief bolstered by the fact her husband’s life-long asthma and eczema apparently disappeared within three months of him taking up a plant-based diet in 2017.

This set of plant-based recipes that feel as nourishing as they are nice to eat. There’s also a great balance of purely veggie-based recipes alongside those that use tofu, tempeh, seitan or other plant-based proteins. Every recipe has a useful guide to prep time and cooking time, as well as info on the kcal, carb, protein and fat content of each dish.

The ‘fast and furious’ section offers recipes that you can get on the table quickly, while the ‘warm and comforting’ section contains gems like Thai-style roasted sweet chilli sprouts with creamy coconut noodles (I’m obsessed). At the back you’ll find extra tips from Ching, including a guide to buying the perfect wok.

Buy now £8.94, Amazon

The Complete Vegetable Cookbook by James Strawbridge

The name doesn’t lie: James Strawbridge’s Complete Vegetable Cookbook really is about using the complete vegetable, so that none of it is wasted.

Divided into sections for spring, summer, autumn and winter, each one has a guide to the vegetables that are in season at that time of year. For each, you’ll learn how to grow it, how to prep it, how to cook it and how long you can keep it. In fitting with the zero waste ethos, there’s also a guide to every single edible part of each vegetable. This conjures up some inspired recipes, like miso-roasted broccoli stems with floret rice.

At the back you’ll find a guide to all the different ways to cook veg, as well as handy recipes for fermenting, pickling and making chutneys. For anyone looking to get to know vegetables a bit better, this book is essential. Warning: it had me desperately dreaming of having my own vegetable patch.

Buy now £16.58, Amazon

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi

OK, so not every recipe in this book is vegetarian, but, like previous Ottolenghi cookbooks, the vegetable reigns supreme in this recipe book. It’ll make a well-thumbed addition to any veggie kitchen, particularly with its handy fold-out index as to how to make the best use of a weekly veg box.

The first in a proposed series of books from the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, this one is all about raiding your shelves and turning your cupboard staples into delicious meals. Every recipe page leaves a space for your own notes, encouraging you to play around and tweak to your liking. And meat and fish recipes all have notes on how to turn them veggie - the warming baked orzo puttanesca, for example, works just as well with anchovies and tuna swapped out for artichoke hearts. Like many of vegetarian cookbooks on offer, there’s a theme here - how to cut down on waste and make your kitchen reach its full potential.

Buy now £16.58, Amazon

Rosa’s Thai Cafe: The Vegetarian Cookbook

A dream come true for anyone who orders Rosa’s drunken noodles from Deliveroo as though their life depends on it: the secrets are all here. This vegetarian follow-up to the original cookbook from Rosa’s Thai Cafe has all the classics from their menu and more.

The joy of this book is how quick and easy many of the recipes are to make. All you really need is a pestle and mortar and a big wok, and there are a few handy pages at the front that suggest which spices and sauces to stock up on. Easy to follow and beautifully photographed, it’ll take fans of Asian cuisine past the Pad Thai and beyond featuring stir frys, curries, small bites and soups. I’m over the moon that I can now make my own Tom Yum Noodle soup with tofu by the vat-load.

Buy now £12.16, Amazon

Tarkari by Rohit Ghai

Don’t be fooled by this book from Michelin starred chef Rohit Ghai, the man behind menus at Jamavar, Gymkhana and Hoppers, who now runs his own place, Kutir in Chelsea. It looks highly fancy, but the recipes are actually pretty straightforward.

Tarkari, Ghai explains, is a Bengali word that’s used to refer to any vegetable dish. Here you’ll find over 80, from curries to daals, to chapatis and buttery naans. My heart was drawn immediately to the Jaipuri Bhindi recipe - okra fritters - but the book is full of surprising, satisfying flavour combinations, like coconut chutney, or mushroom and truffle khichadi.

Buy now £16.99, Amazon

Eating for People, Pleasure and Planet by Tom Hunt

Anyone keen to get to grips with local produce will get a lot out of this book from eco-chef Tom Hunt. Part manifesto, part cookbook, Hunt encourages us to get to know our local farmers and interrogate how sustainable the food in our kitchens really is. He also - as per the title - wants us to still find lots of pleasure in what we cook and eat.

Hunt is an award-winning chef - his Bristol restaurant Poco previously won Best Ethical Restaurant at the Observer Food Monthly Awards - and the recipes here definitely lean more towards fine dining. I’d certainly order walnut frangipane and khorasan galette with apples and berries at his restaurant, but I don’t feel as well equipped making it myself. For the more confident cook, though, this is proof that it’s possible for the humble veggie to be served in highly elevated ways.

Buy now £17.65, Amazon

East by Meera Sodha

I recommend this cookbook to everyone I know, vegetarian or not. Not only did it teach me a foolproof recipe for making perfect fluffy basmati rice, it’s a well-thumbed staple in my kitchen.

Like Anna Jones, Meera Sodha has a knack for writing tasty, warming recipes that are relatively straightforward to cook. All of her books are brilliant, but East, her vegan and vegetarian edition, is my pick of the bunch. Her Thai green curry with aubergines, courgettes and mangetout is one of the most well-spattered pages in the book, thanks to the number of times I’ve come back to it, but I’m always finding new dishes that I want to cook within these pages. I particularly love her seasonal pilau dishes - the spring pilau with asparagus, fennel and pea has to be my fave.

Buy now £14.39, Amazon

The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer

Rukmini Iyer’s roasting tin cookbooks have started a revolution. Not only does the cooking mainly consist of bunging some bits in the oven, it also drastically reduces the washing up. The dream.

Her green edition is half vegetarian recipes and half vegan recipes, with each section divided into quick, medium and slow cooking times. There’s also a final section that recommends recipes pairings, which is super handy (great as the recipes are, some of them don’t add up to a full meal.) If you’re after some simple, stress-free dinner ideas, Iyer’s book is a must. The flavour combinations are smart too - the leek orzotto with asparagus, hazelnuts and rocket is divine.

Buy now £10.00, Amazon

Verdict

Our pick of the bunch is Anna Jones’s One Pot, Pan, Planet. Vegetarian or not, it deserves its place on kitchen shelves everywhere, offering wonderful recipes plus heaps of useful guidance on how to make your cooking a bit more conscious.

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