I've had cookbooks on my mind, because in preparation for a recent cooking demonstration at our library, I put together a bibliography of cookbooks that are useful when cooking healthy foods.
Here's the list, all available from our LARL system:
Here are ones I currently use most:
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison: this is a big cookbook, but gives such detailed preparation techniques for vegetables. I often prepare meals based on what is in my CSA box or looks freshest at the grocery store, and can search this cookbook on how to use what I have. She even has drink, muffin, and bread recipes, along with wonderful salad dressings and soups. This summer I made the A Summer Bean and Vegetable Soup with Pesto several times, made the Winter Squash Soup and used the Tomato Sauce section to cook our abundance of local tomatoes, along with the Honeydew and Lime Juice with Mint when our CSA gave us really ripe melon.
Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jane Lemlin: these are simpler recipes than those in the Madison book but are delicioius! I've made the Crunchy Lentil Salad, Tofu Hoisin with cashews and vegetables, and the Broccoli and Rice Salad, and have many more I want to try.
New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant: I love the Cuban Black Beans, Mapo Tofu, the Squash Rolls and the Apple Cake.
A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. This is a cookbook divided by season which I love! We make the Chinese Noodles and the Red Curry-Braised Tofu often. He has interesting chili recipes as well.
We don't cook meat that often, but if you do, I like the recipes in Cook This, Not That. My favorite reference for Chinese dishes is: Chinese Cooking for Beginners by Helene Siegel. It may say it's for beginners, but I wouldn't want my stir-fry recipes any more complicated than these are. This one won my heart with it's authentic tasting Kung Pao recipe.
Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day has lovely photography, inspiring me in my quest for beautiful meals. She must use a different salt than I do, because her recipes only need half the salt called for. Definitely make the Quinoa Patties. Yum!
I don't usually make a menu and then go to the store to find the ingredients. Rather, I think about what is available locally, what is in season, and what is in my pantry/freezer and find recipes that go with those ingredients. This summer, our CSA has provided fantastic recipes to go with our weekly vegetables, available on their website. I've made the stuffed poblano peppers, the roasted cauliflower (without the parmesan because our meal had asian flavors), roasted radishes, and cabbage soup.
This may seem overwhelming at first. Try new recipes based on what looks good to you and what vegetables you have. Start collecting your favorites, with the goal of finding 10-15 that you can rotate regularly, and you will be well on your way to cooking better food.
Enjoy the adventure!