Didn’t catch last night’s 2014 James Beard Awards? No worries. We whipped up a handy-dandy cheat sheet to the veg-tastic books nominated in the Focus on Health and Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian categories. While Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy was the only one of the four to take home an award, they’re all winners in our book.
Feast, by Sarah Copeland
Why we love it: Simple yet inventive flavor combinations (Artichoke Enchiladas! Savory Oats with Peas and Aged Gouda!) that make us totally want to cook up a feast. Bonus: gorgeous food photography by VT contributor Yunhee Kim.
How many: More than 140 recipes, almost all veg.
Who’s it for: Anyone who likes their veggies with an occasional comfort food dose of cheese, eggs, or butter.
What to make right away: Pea Mash with Burrata and Mint; Kale and Kimchi Salad; Asparagus with Miso Butter; Orecchiette with Ricotta and Chard
River Cottage Veg, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Why we love it: The author of The River Cottage Meat Book does right by veggies with boldly flavored, globally inspired dishes that’d outshine any steak on the table. The idea is not to replace meat but to ignore it.
How many: More than 200 vegetarian recipes, about a third of them vegan.
Who’s it for: Vegetarians looking beyond tofu cutlets and veggie patties; omnivores cutting back on meat.
What to make right away: Baby Beet Tarte Tatin; Sweet Potato and Peanut Gratin; Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad; Vegetable Biryani
VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00, by Mark Bittman
Why we love it: Keep vegan until 6 p.m., then eat whatever you like. That’s the diet New York Times columnist Mark Bittman followed to lose weight—and keep it off—and he makes a convincing case for everyone else to join him.
How many: 45 vegan recipes for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, plus a handful of non-vegan dinner ideas.
Who’s it for: Flexitarians who want to eat healthier but aren’t quite ready to give up hot dogs and ice cream.
What to make right away: Eggplant Un-Parmesan; Chickpea Ratatouille; Now-or-Later Vegan Burgers; Greens and Beans Soup (Psst: you can find a few of these recipes in our April/May 2013 issue!)
Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison
Why we love it: As much a reference guide as a cookbook, this enormous goodie goes deep into the botany of every vegetable, herb, grain, and legume at the farmers’ market, with drool-worthy pictures to match.
How many: More than 300 recipes organized by plant family, plus countless shopping, cooking, and pairing tips.
Who’s it for: Curious cooks, CSA newbies, and avid home gardeners eager to expand their vegetable education.
What to make right away: Peas with Baked Ricotta and Bread Crumbs; Black Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Avocado, and Pistachios; Smoky Kale and Potato Cakes; Open-Faced Sandwich of Spinach, Caramelized Onions, and Roasted Peppers