Vegetarian books enjoyed continued popularity, publicity and print runs during 2015. In the course of this year, I’ve written about more than 30 new plant-based books. Among all the new titles, these 12 stand out as particularly good choices for holiday gifts.

One trend in vegetarian cookbooks that is clearly on view in this top-tier group is the embrace of homemade vegan condiments, pantry goods and other vegetarian staples. The trend is most visible in Miyoko Schinner’s book “The Homemade Vegan Pantry,” but it also shows up in “Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking” and the latest Happy Herbivore book, among others.

At least one cookbook author has said these books signal that vegan cooking has arrived as a full-blown cuisine. (I’m a vegan, but that’s not why this list skews in that direction. In fact, most of the new review cookbooks the Press Herald received this year were vegan, not merely vegetarian.)

This list of gift-worthy books also includes two comprehensive vegetarian books – one from the editors at America’s Test Kitchen and one from Annie and Dan Shannon, the authors of the 2013 hit “Betty Goes Vegan.”

Here are my picks for the best vegetarian cookbooks of 2015.

“At My Table: Vegetarian Feasts for Family and Friends,” by Mary McCartney. Sterling Epicure. $29.95.


763833_495686-AtMyTableRecipes: Vegetarian, with vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free noted.

Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: Fans of her first cookbook, fans of her dad and Anglophiles.

Following up on her first solo cookbook “Food,” the daughter of famous vegetarians Paul and Linda McCartney provides menus, recipes and photos for 13 different occasions in this attractive hardcover book. The events range from dinner for two and afternoon tea to a bonfire party and a festive feast.

McCartney’s recipes show her mixed American-British heritage and include Sliced Avocado and Soft-Boiled Eggs on Toast, Tostadas Deluxe, Mushroom and Chestnut Pie, Black Bean Burgers, Coconut Loaf Cake, Apple Wedges with Caramel Dipping Sauce, and Baked Plums with Fresh Basil and Amaretti Crisp.

Memories of meals and family traditions, tidbits from life in the McCartney household are mixed in, such as one about her dad setting out hay bales around a bonfire so the family could eat and tell stories. The book includes a recipe for Paul McCartney’s margarita.


“The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well with 700 Foolproof Recipes,” by the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen. $29.95.

763833_495686-CompleteVegetarian_2Recipes: Vegetarian with vegan and gluten-free noted.

Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: New vegetarians, vegetarians seeking a comprehensive cookbook, fans of America’s Test Kitchen and anyone looking for vegetable prep tricks and tips.

The gurus of obsessively well-tested recipes turned their attention to the meat-free table this year, and the result is a must-have cookbook for vegetarians. Rather than merely offering vegetarian versions of meat-based dishes, this book strives to put vegetables at the center of the plate.

Like all the Test Kitchen books and publications, proper technique is emphasized and often illustrated with step-by-step photos and directions. The cookbook includes many guides to ingredients, including lentils, fresh chile peppers, Asian condiments and cheese.


The recipes cover tremendous ground; a few highlights include Parsnip Hummus, Kale Caesar Salad, Mexican-Style Street Corn, Thai Red Curry with Cauliflower, Grilled Soy-Ginger Glazed Tofu, Braised Brussels Sprouts, Vegetable Bibimbap, and Camembert, Sun-Dried Tomato and Potato Tart.

“The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living: With new one-pot recipes and herbie success stories,” by Lindsay S. Nixon. BenBella Books. $19.95.

763833_495686-HappyHerbivoreGuide_Recipes: Vegan with gluten-free and soy-free noted.

Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: New vegetarians, new vegans, people interested in the plant-based lifestyle and fans of Nixon’s Happy Herbivore books and blog.

Transitioning from a Western diet to a plant-based diet typically comes with questions, concerns and challenges, and this guide by the bestselling author of the Happy Herbivore cookbook series puts all the answers in one handy book. The first few chapters cover the basics of plant-based eating, health and nutrition. Then Nixon dives into tips, strategies and advice for handling everything from social situations and negativity to packing lunch boxes and eating on the road.


Sprinkled throughout the book are profiles of individuals, couples and families who’ve experienced the positive changes of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. At the back, the book includes a selection of oil-free recipes for one-pot meals (Moroccan Carrot Soup, Lemon Take-Out Chickpeas and Belize Bean Quesadillas) and homemade condiments (Quick Queso Sauce, AJ’s Vegan Parmesan and Everyday Mushroom Gravy). It closes with suggested books, films and websites for further information on a variety of plant-based topics.

“The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples,” by Miyoko Schinner. Ten Speed Press. $22.99.

763833_495686-HomemadeVeganPantry_Recipes: Vegan.

Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: Fans of all things Miyoko, frugal vegan foodies, culinary DIYers and members of the homemade revolution.

Cookbook author, vegan cheese company founder and co-host of the Maine-produced TV show “Vegan Mashup” airing on PBS, Schinner takes vegan cooking beyond the doldrums of prepackaged supermarket staples into the handcrafted world of grandmothers and gourmets. Going the handmade route also saves money, according to the author, who says you can “save up to 80 percent compared to buying” the same items.


The hardbound book covers all the essentials, including mayonnaise, squeeze-bottle yellow mustard, ketchup, coffee creamer, oil-free melty “cheddar,” egg whites, tofu, tempeh, ranch dressing, macaroni and cheese, cashew milk and pizza dough. A whole chapter on faux meats offers recipes for unfish sticks, unpork, unsteak and veggie dogs.

Other pantry staples featured in the book include pancake mix, white cake baking mix, vanilla extract, condensed nondairy milk, French buttercream and basic vegan ice cream.

“Indian Harvest: Classic and Contemporary Vegetarian Dishes,” by Vikas Khanna. Bloomsbury USA. $35.

763833_495686-IndianHarvestRecipes: Vegetarian.

Photos: Full color through- out and for all the recipes.

Best for: Vikas Khanna fans, vegetarians who love Indian food, foodies who crave spice and cooks who enjoy exploring new foods and flavors.


A Michelin-starred chef, TV host and cookbook author, Khanna presents an elegant, hardbound book where “vegetables are the star ingredients of recipes that showcase their natural sweetness and hidden complexities.”

Stunning photos of each dish pair with recipes that are often both exotic and approachable. In some chef-written cookbooks, the ingredient lists and directions can be daunting; this book keeps both short and uncomplicated. But the recipes do call for some uncommon ingredients, including asafoetida, colocasia root, Kerala red rice, kokum and curry leaves, to name a few. Dishes include Hibiscus and Green Mango Rice, Cauliflower with Ginger and Peanuts, Pumpkin Biryani with Pistachios, Pomegranate-Flavored Chickpeas, Tamarind Vegetable Lentils Medley, Sichuan Pepper Bread and Plantain Jaggery Chutney.

A closing chapter devoted to drinks includes Dried Fruit Milkshake with Cardamom Scent and Avocado and Mango with Black Pepper.

“Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day,” by Gene Baur with Gene Stone. Rodale. $29.99.

763833_495686-LivingFarmSanctuary_Recipes: Vegan.

Photos: Full color throughout.


Best for: Animal lovers, animal rescuers, Gene Baur fans and Farm Sanctuary fans.

This upbeat tale about the power of animals to transform our lives takes readers on a virtual journey to the sanctuary farms to meet the residents and some of the visitors. We learn that Twitter co-founder Biz Stone became vegan after a visit to the New York farm and that one of the owners of the Smarties candy company has adopted four of the farm’s animals. The book is also filled with touching tales of animals who escaped slaughter to live out their natural lives on the farm.

The book’s 100 recipes come from Farm Sanctuary fans, including many celebrities, such as Moby, Emily Deschanel, Matthew Kenney, Bryant Terry, Miyoko Schinner, Chad Sarno, Rip Esselstyn, and Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, the chefs/owners of Vedge.

Dishes range from Peppery Cardamom Rolls and Lobster Mushroom Tostada Tower to Po-Lentil Curry Burgers and Mint Chocolate Ganache Tart. As Baur writes, “I think one of the best ways to enjoy the Farm Sanctuary life is simply to prepare your food at home.”

“Love Fed: Purely Decadent, Simply Raw, Plant-Based Desserts,” by Christina Ross. BenBella Books. $19.95.

763833_495686-LoveFedRecipes: Raw vegan.


Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: Raw foodies, people who love dessert but it doesn’t love them back, junk food addicts in recovery and those who avoid both dairy and gluten.

Presented in a manageable and lightweight trade paperback, this sophisticated cookbook showcases raw desserts as indistinguishable from traditional desserts. Ross, who runs the PatisseRaw vegan dessert company, offers up one tempting treat after the next. Some reference traditional desserts – Sweetly Southern Pecan Pie Squares, Triple Layer German Chocolate Cake, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cups, Maple Banana Tiramisu Trifle – while others stake out new ground – Carrot Mango Almond Sorbet, Jason Mraz’s Chocomole, Most Favored Raspberry Macadamia Cake, Maple Coconut Cashew Butter.

The book begins with guides to ingredients (including lucama and Irish moss), techniques, kitchen tools and basic raw recipes. It concludes with a “Beyond Basics” chapter on ways to prepare and serve raw fruit. In between you’ll find chocolatey, chewy, crunchy goodness (including a recipe for a raw version of a Snickers bar).

“Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking: Over 200 Delicious Recipes and Tips to Save You Money and Stock Your Pantry,” by Annie and Dan Shannon. Grand Central Life and Style. $25.

763833_495686-MasteringVeganCook2Recipes: Vegan.


Photos: Two sections of full-color photos.

Best for: Fans of “Betty Goes Vegan,” Julia Child fans who have gone vegetarian and anyone looking for budget-friendly meals.

Inspired by Julia Child (but not a veganized version of her cookbook by a similar name), the Shannons also call upon Betty Crocker and other cooks from years gone by who’ve brought frugality and thrift to the home kitchen.

Each recipe comes with a cost per serving and a list of other recipes in the book in which you can use leftover ingredients. Like their previous cookbook, this hardbound volume uses packaged foods (such as Bisquick, tater tots and faux meats) plus kitchen ingenuity to create classic American dishes, minus the meat, eggs and dairy.

Recipes include Savory Crepes with Easy “Hollandaise” Sauce, Cinnamon Peach Skillet Rolls, Yankee Pot Roast Dinner, Aloha Dogs, Betty’s Wartime Walnut Burger, Yankee Doodle Macaroni, Tofu Vindaloo, Cruelty-Free Crawfish Broil and Rosemary Chicklins and Dumplins Stew.

The book concludes with a menu for a DIY wedding, complete with White Wedding Cupcakes.


“Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes,” by Dreena Burton. BenBella Books. $19.95.

763833_495686-PlantPoweredFamiliesRecipes: Vegan.

Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: Vegan and vegetarian families, parents of kids who need to eat more veggies, new vegans, Dreena Burton fans and lovers of Canada.

A popular vegan cookbook author and mother of three, Burton serves up a must-have book for vegetarian families.

Her dishes offer different takes on kid-friendly flavors, such as a potato-based Mild Cheesy Dip and peanut butter and jelly in pudding form.


Burton’s recipes keep the ingredient list and the textures simple, while emphasizing fresh herbs, diverse seasonings and a variety of culinary traditions.

Recipes include Tofu in Cashew Ginger Sauce, Sweetballs, Artichoke Sunflower Burgers and Hummus Tortilla Pizza.

The book wraps up with extensive information on feeding plant-based meals to kids, including snacks for toddlers, whether or not to “sneak” veggies into kids’ food, preparing kids for veg-related peer pressure, how to handle birthday parties and a whole chapter on packing lunch boxes.

As Burton writes: “It’s not the vegan part of parenting that’s difficult. It’s the parenting part.”

“Real Food for Everyone: Vegan-Friendly Meals for Meat-Lovers, Vegetarians and Vegans,” by Ann Gentry. Andrews McMeel Publishing. $19.99.

763833_495686-RealFoodforEveryoneRecipes: Vegan.


Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: West Coast natives, fans of Real Food Daily, new vegans, new cooks and California dreamers.

The force behind the Real Food Daily restaurants in the Los Angeles area refreshes her 2011 cookbook “Vegan Family Meals” with the Real Food brand. If you missed it then, it’s definitely worth a look now.

The book covers all the vegan cooking basics – including tofu lasagna and chocolate silk pie – with a number of useful additions. One is the guide to making non-dairy cheese that includes the recipe for Real Food Daily’s cashew cheese (in sliced or sauce). Another useful feature is the series of photo vignettes illustrating cutting techniques. It makes a great introduction to vegan eating with a sunny California slant.

Throughout the book, Gentry highlights and offers tips on using a variety of vegan-friendly ingredients. Recipes include Sesame-Shiitake Tofu Frittata, Baked Kale Chips, BLT Tartines, Curried Red Lentil Soup and Kung Pao Tofu and Vegetables.

“Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking: 125 Easy, Delicious Real Food Recipes,” by Roberto Martin. Da Capo Press. $32.50.


763833_495686-RobertosNewVeganRecipes: Vegan.

Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: Veg families, meat-eaters who eat vegan-ish and people who want recipes for veganized versions of popular dishes.

The author of “Vegan Cooking for Carnivores” is back with more recipes destined to be well loved by all eaters, not just vegan celebrities (his personal chef client list includes Ellen DeGeneres).

Many of the recipes will please kids and families, such as Cassoulet, Minestrone Soup, Classic Potatoes Gratin and Sweet and Spicy Baked Beans. Recipes such as Tacos de Papa con Chorizo, Jackfruit Soft Tacos in Guajillo Sauce and Albondigas Soup, hint at Martin’s Mexican-American heritage, while recipes such as Vegan Croissants, Celeriac alla Florentina and Braised Daikon Scallops with Sugar Snap Peas and Shiitake reflect his training at the Culinary Institute of America.

The hardbound book includes a chapter devoted to pantry staples and ends with desserts, such as Rustic Apple Pie, Silky Chocolate Mousse and Carrot Cake with White Cake Frosting.


“Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social MotherfXckers.” Rodale. $25.99.

763833_495686-ThugKitchenPartyGrubRecipes: Vegan.

Photos: Full color throughout.

Best for: Fans of Thug Kitchen, fans of profanity, vegans who like to party and anyone with a hipster sense of humor.

Their names don’t appear on the cover, but the no-longer-anonymous authors Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway follow up on their runaway 2014 debut (that landed in the top spot on the New York Times best-sellers list), with a mouthwatering guide to appetizers, dips and potluck winners.

“Parties should be about having a good time; not about eating a bunch of depressing garbage that you’re gonna regret tomorrow,” the authors tell us.


They go on to dish up 100 recipes for creative party food, including Buffalo Lettuce Bites, Butternut Squash Queso-ish Dip, Roasted Beet Hummus, Poppy Seed Potato Salad, Deviled Chickpea Bites, Carrot Dogs and Fresh Corn Butter Pie. The book finishes with extensive guides to ingredients, cooking techniques and preparing vegan staples.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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