Pete Mulvihill on Vegetable-Driven Cookbooks for Spring

Don’t forget: the books mentioned below are available at 20 percent off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code “tablehopper” at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

Any tablehopper readers still eating more healthy as the result of a New Year’s resolution? Anyone looking forward to the early spring veggies sprouting up at farmers’ markets? Anyone trying to eat less meat and still have a rich, warm meal each evening? Read on.

Here are two recent arrivals on our cookbook shelves that place vegetables front and center. Both come from local publisher Chronicle Books, who has a great track record of making beautiful books, so even if you don’t cook out of these as often as you hope, they’ll grace yours shelves artfully.

The Glorious Vegetables of Italy

The Glorious Vegetables of Italy
Domenica Marchetti, Sang An

But both are more than a pretty package. Let’s start with The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, $30). The book opens with a helpful 25-page guide to Italian vegetables (and notes a few other key ingredients, like pasta and cheeses). It’s then organized by course: apps, soups and salads, etc. While some recipes may pose sourcing challenges (do we have bird egg beans around here?), most ingredients are common enough and all recipes are very doable for home cooks. This is not a book for the industry; it’s inspiration for anyone with basic knife skills and a bit of patience.

As for the recipes, think Autumn Risotto with Chanterelle Mushrooms; Clam Stew with Greens and Tomatoes; Grilled Asparagus with Speck; and Roasted Romanesco with Anchovy Sauce. Most creative may be the Eggplant “Meatballs” in Tomato Sauce. Nothing here is too complex or time-consuming; think solid weekday dinners with a few more involved feasts sprinkled throughout.

Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite

Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite
Sarah Copeland, Yunhee Kim

Speaking of feasts, the title of Sarah Copeland’s new tome is Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite (Chronicle Books, $35). Ms. Copeland is the food director of Real Simple magazine, and she married a vegetarian a few years ago. After a few months of salads and cheese plates each evening, she decided she had to step it up and get something warm on the table (she doesn’t explain why her husband isn’t in charge of this; but to each her own, right?). This book is the fruit of her labor (vegetable pun averted!).

Feast features breakfast and lunch, little meals, salads and sides, and so on. There are a number of simple dishes: the Romesco Vegetable Platter is a quick and easy meal. Others take a few steps, like the Pea Guacamole and Seared Halloumi Soft Tacos. And there are a few more complicated recipes, like the Roasted Tomato-Squash Tagine Fall Feast. On the whole, though, think of these recipes as quick inspiration when that veggie box arrives or you went a little nuts at the farmers’ market.

Buon appetito, and thanks for reading.