Imagine having a job where people send you cookbooks for free! I do. Once upon a time, in the annals of my family lore, it was said that I couldn’t boil water (actually, I boiled it very well, until the pot went dry and burned. Blackened H20, thank you very much). But that was then. Today, I could be a master chef if I so chose, but then no one would send me books, and I wouldn’t get to pick my favorite 10 of ‘11. So let’s just keep things the way they are—I now present Your 10 Must-Have Vegan Cookbooks of 2011.
Ani’s Raw Food Asia: Easy East-West Fusion Recipes by Ani Phyo (Da Capo/Lifelong Books)
The raw-foods superstar cruises the Pacific with recipes from China, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Japan, (her ancestral) Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam in a colorful and photo-heavy book that will surely add plenty of healthy phytochemicals to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Big Vegan: More Than 350 Recipes, No Meat/No Dairy, All Delicious by Robin Asbell (Chronicle Books)
If you had any doubts about the growth of veganism, pick up this book… if you can. Gorgeous, inviting, and amazingly well thought out, Big Vegan is a resource you’ll be cooking from for years to come. It will also come in handy as a step stool when you need to fetch that rarely needed ingredient from the top shelf.
Candle 79: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, & Jorge Pineda (Ten Speed Press)
This one only made this list because it was named VegNews’ 2011 Cookbook of the Year. Only kidding! A beautiful, sleek, elegant hardcover with stunning color photography, Candle 79 elevates the world of vegan cookbooks in much the same way that its namesake restaurant did for vegan cuisine. Now where’s my Seitan Piccata?
Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman (Fair Winds Press)
Oh. My. God. True story: The VN staff was so glassy-eyed when this book arrived in the office that they scheduled a Sunday brunch at Online Editor Anna’s house for which all recipes were lifted from Hearty. Everything was delicious, even the non-vegans gobbled up the goodies, and we had to shutter VegNews the next day. OK, that last part isn’t true.
Raw Food For Everyone: Essential Techniques and 300 Simple-to-Sophisticated Recipes by Alissa Cohen and Leah J. Dubois (Avery Trade)
The scope of Raw Food garners it a mention on this list, though the recipes might have a little something to do with it, too. Anyone who has been intimidated by uncooking would do well to add this one to their pantry, and reap the health benefits along with the Sweet Potato Chips (they’re dehydrated).
Spork Fed: Super Fun and Flavorful Recipes from the Sisters of Spork Foods by Jenny Engel & Heather Goldberg (St. Lynn’s Press)
Take two adorably positive (and positively adorable) sisters, add a splash of media savvy, throw in successful, sold-out Hollywood cooking classes, and you have veganism for the 2010s! First-time authors Engel & Goldberg effortlessly translate their style and sass into Spork Fed, which is perfect for fans who can’t travel to LA for lessons.
Sweet Vegan: A Collection of All Vegan, Some Gluten-Free, and A Few Raw Desserts by Emily Mainquist (Kyle Books)
The first book from the owner of Baltimore, MD’s Emily’s Desserts is a classy, classic keeper. Stylish, sophisticated, and indulgent, Sweet Vegan will have you longing for the sequel. Plus, a portion of its sales are donated to Farm Sanctuary. Sweet!
The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur: Over 140 Delectable Recipes to Treat the Eyes and Taste Buds by Kelly Peloza (Skyhorse Publishing)
Disclaimer: You’ll gain 10 pounds just leafing through this book—the pages look that good. Another hardcover with mouth-watering photography, make sure to hide this one behind the sofa cushion when you go on that cleanse. First one to send me a dozen Oatmeal Cream Pies wins a prize.
Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season by Hannah Kaminsky (Skyhorse Publishing)
Have no fear: even if the author wasn’t a VN contributor, this one would make the list. The second book by the prodigy of vegan sweets, Vegan Desserts doesn’t suffer from a sophomore slump in the least. Combined with the author’s expert photography (oh, to be so young and so talented), why is it again you haven’t yet picked up a copy?
Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body & Soul by Julie Hasson (Running Press)
How much fun is Vegan Diner? Let’s just say that you won’t find this one in Joel Fuhrman’s kitchen. Can you say burgers and shakes and fries, oh my? Hasson’s book takes the animal products out of the greasy spoon, but leaves you wanting for nothing.
Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone by Ann Gentry (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
That author Ann Gentry also happens to be the founder of Los Angeles’ Real Food Daily restaurant means that the next time you are in SoCal you can ask, “Is the recipe for Harvest Kale Salad with Sweet Mustard Tempeh and Saffron-Orange Tahini Dressing on the menu yet?” This one is a classic. Dig in.
OK, so that’s 11. And there were plenty more worthy efforts. Why don’t we make it an even dozen: Leave a comment about your fave cookbook of 2011 that doesn’t appear above. And stay tuned—next week I’ll reveal my Top 10 (or 12) non-fiction books of the year.