I love cookbooks. I have quite a collection of them. One of my favorite pastimes is reading them to inspire ideas and learn more about the art of cooking.
If I had to give up all but one of my cookbooks, without question, the one I would keep would be Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Deborah Madison spent years as the chef at San Francisco’s famous Greens Restaurant. Although the dishes at Greens are finely crafted and often somewhat complicated, dishes like those don’t make up the bulk of this book.
Most of what you’ll find in this book are simple recipes with a few well-balanced ingredients, recipes that are pretty easy to whip up in a fairly short time. You’ll also find special-occasion recipes that are fun to spend an afternoon with when you’re hosting guests.
As a gardener, one of my favorite sections of the book is called “Vegetables: The Heart of the Matter.” This section lists all the common veggies, and some uncommon ones, and provides recipes for all of them. I find this section especially helpful when my garden produces a bounty of kale, tomatoes and of course, summer squash.
Whether you are vegetarian or not, if you’re looking for a solid, information-rich instruction book for cooking meat-free dishes, this is the only book you’ll ever need. Of course, if you’re like me, you may still have a shelf full of others anyway, just for the fun of it.