Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Vegetarian Library: Introducing My Vegetarian Delectus

meaning noun a body of important works of art, an influential body of literature.

It has been a long time coming, but l have been intending to compile a list of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks that inspire me.   Welcome to my delectus!

To make what would otherwise be a generic list of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, I thought I would offer a personal review of sorts, not the kind of reviews to encourage you to rush out and pick up a copy (though that would be nice), but more how they came to be in my possession, what I like about the book and what I don't like so much.  I will also cook a recipe or two from the cookbook.  I hope to do this once a week. Please do join me if you wish and I will share your link in my side-bar (see rules below).

There was another reason that spurred me to do this now, I was actually a little surprised that my Top 5 vegetarian and vegan cookbooks from 2015 were unknown to a number of readers. I think this is a shame, as often celebrity endorsed and glossy vogue coffee table style cookbooks seem to steal the limelight.  I want to put the spotlight on vegetarian and vegan books that get pushed to the bottom/back or are simply overshadowed for whatever reason. These will not only include new publications, but publications of the past that are still relevant and full of inspiration - you just have to look. 
To start of with I begin with Cranks Fast Food   Its a vegetarian cookbook that inspired and helped me through my University student days.  I wasn't your typical student living off baked beans and jacket potato.  Its also my most stained and splattered cookbook!  I have to admit, it wasn't always this way.  For the first few months, it sat on my bookshelf next to academic books largely being ignored, I wondered why I had picked it up sold by a review, but then one day when it was my turn to cook at the shared student flat, I decided to cook from it. I made the Thai Green Curry, and oh my goodness - the feedback I got from my diners was fabulous and encouraging.  It also gave me a boost of confidence in the kitchen and in myself as a cook.  I swooned my student boyfriend, now my husband on so many recipes in this particular cookbook - well then the rest is really history.

Nadine Abensur's cookbooks opened my eyes to new ingredients then such as balsamic vinegar, black sesame seeds, couscoushalloumi cheese, harissa, miso, pesto, polenta, preserved lemons, sumac, tahini , tamarind, tapenade and even zhug, ingredients that we take so much for advantage now.  Nadine  Abensur is perhaps the number one innovative vegetarian chef who has influenced me and got me cooking out of the so-called culinary vegetable box, injecting bold flavours into traditional fare, but also encouraging me to explore worldwide ingredients.  As a self taught home cook, I often wish that Nadine Abensur still lived in the UK, if she did then I would have loved to have attended one of her cookery classes.  Without meaning to boast, I think I have all of Nadine Abensur's cookbooks from her first Secrets From A Vegetarian Kitchen to Enjoy: New Veg with Dash and will write more about them in time. 

I positively blame Nadine Abensur for starting my love affair with experimental vegetarian cooking, exploring the diversity of vegetables and worldwide cuisines and towards my vegetarian delectus!. 
Here are some recipes that I have made over the years. Some blogged, some not, but more importantly many that I often return to time and time again - I know them now off by heart!
Braised Baby chard and Broad Bean Pilaf
Black Eyed Bean Burgers
Broad Beans with Cumin, Paprika and Olive Oil
Carrot and Thyme Risotto
Coconut Dal with Raita, Cardamon rice and Paneer Tikka
Cream of Fennel Soup with Pernod
Dolcelatte Gnocchi with Broccoli and Squash
Feta Cheese Souffles with Black Olive Toasts
Filled Courgettes with Ricotta and Toasted Almonds
Harira (Chickpea Soup) with Harissa
Linguine with Asparagus and Truffle Oil
Mushroom Strogonoff
Orecchiette with Broccoli, Almonds and Taleggio
Porcini Risotto
Preserved Lemons
Roasted Tomatoes with Parsley, Breadcrumbs and Garlic
Sweet Potato and Tamarind Soup
Tabbouleh with chickpeas and garlic Tzatziki
Thai Green Curry
Sweet Potato Chips with Coriander Pesto
Vegetarian Paella

Do you have a vegetarian or vegan cookbook that you go to time and time again?!
As I mentioned earlier, if you want to join in and share with me your favourite vegetarian or vegan cookbook, please do.
Share an image of the cookbook and cook a recipe from it (you don't have to share the recipe - please be mindful of copyright)
Mention The Vegetarian Library in your post and link back to A2K - A Seasonal Veg Table.
Then leave a comment on this blog post with link to your blog post.
I will do a Round Up at the start of the following month.  
Please tweet @SeasonalShaheen #VegetarianLibrary #vegetarianlibrary 


  1. This is absolutely one of my favourite books and definitely the one I've made more recipes from, more frequently than any other! Although strangely I think our only 'overlap' is the mushroom stroganoff. I also have the 'New Cranks' book also by Nadine and have never made anything from that. I've also used it as inspiration, just leafing through will give me ideas for new combinations, I feel like this and Heidi Swanson's 101 cookbooks site really opened up vegetarian cooking for me to be more than vegetarian versions of meat dishes. A total win from me. Although I did laugh at the Amazon 2 star review which said it was 101 ways with Tamari and tabasco! You can't please everyone.

    1. So good to hear and wonderful to know that I am not alone in my choice here. I have the 'New Cranks' too, and have cooked from it, but not as much as Cranks Fast Food which I have had the longest. I do have Heidi Swanson's cookbooks, but haven't perused it as much. I think I have cooked one of her recipes from a cookbook and one from her website. I do have recipes bookmarked though, so will have to revisit.

  2. This is a great idea. I will join in as soon as I have time. I absolutely love to browse different cookbooks, get ideas, cook recipes and have occasionally also been posting about my cookbooks.

    1. You probably think I am a bit nuts, just stopped doing #VegetablePalette and just started this one, but even if this does not take off, I will ultimately be doing it for myself, but it would be good fun if others joined in. I look forward to your contributions, I know they will be fab!

  3. Interesting idea - I have a cookbook post in mind that I have had in draft for a long time but it is a matter of finding time to write it up! Will see how I go

    1. Thanks Johanna, I look forward - no worries if you can't join in all the time, I am really doing it for myself - a way to list cookbooks on my shelf, but thought it would be good fun if others joined in too.

  4. Great idea! In answer to your question, something basic, which I thought Cranks was, would do. I shop mostly at aldi's which has only basic spices and don't get around to ethnic markets too much because of transport issues and cost. Additionally, I'm needing to keep food costs down.

    The other day, I found a packet of frozen kale with quinoa and garlic at aldi's that I'd like to use but other than steaming it and putting it with a jacket potato or salad, I've no idea. Currently, I use 125 Vegetarian Slow Cooker
    Recipes by Judith Finlayson fairly often.

    1. Thanks e.
      Cranks Fast Food is an excellent book, I think you should not be able to get most ingredients in Aldi. I have to admit I don't shop in Aldi, I agree its cost effective, but I don't like the customer service, they throw everything and make you rush to pack things, its only because of the poor service that we don't shop there.

      I will think of other vegetarian cookbooks to recommend and leave a comment on your blog.

    2. Thanks. We do not seem to have any problems with customer service at the Aldi's here. Where would you advise shopping for most ingredients? I will send a list of what I have, too.

    3. e,
      No need to send me a list. You should be able to find most ingredients these days in Aldi esp. as you found something with quinioa there which is impressive. I often go to Asda, but truth is I am not loyal to any supermarket. Other stuff that is more heath food oriented I go to Holland and Barrett, as its the only health style - but only when i have to not that often for health style ingredients. Hope it helps.

  5. Shaheen, what a lovely new series for you. I look forward to hearing all about your favourite cookbooks. I love, love, love cookbooks and have plenty but I'd love to hear your personal stories. This one reminds me much of Tess Challis' cookbooks which single handedly turned me vegan. :) No one knows about her either, which is sad. :(

  6. Also I just realized this could be linked up. Enjoy! https://tastespace.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/mighty-migas-taco-cleanse-giveaway/

  7. Love this idea Shaheen. Is inspired by recipes OK? I'm hopeless at sticking to recipes. I've just received a copy of the new Cranks Bible by Nadine Abensur - with my recipe in it. Very excited. Though was a little disappointed to see no pictures at all.

    1. Thanks Choclette.
      Yes, inspired is accepted too. Its only the start of this idea, not sure how popular it will be with bloggers, but I will continue with it. Look forward to your submission - excited in fact and look forward to seeing the New Cranks Bible and your recipe, and yes - I too would be disappointed if there was not a picture of the recipe,


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