Get inspired to eat healthier this year with these beautiful cookbooks.
After the indulgences of the holidays, the late winter is often portrayed as a time of cutting back or starting over, diet-wise. But instead of picking away at a plate of wilted lettuces and dreaming of the pizza parties of yore, wouldn't you rather be inspired by recipes that are naturally hearty and filling, and just so happen to be inspiring and healthy, too? Thankfully, there are a whole host of spectacular cookbooks from around the world that help you do just that. Here are some of our favourites:
MAKING FRIENDS WITH SALAD
For many, the word "salad" is more likely to conjure up the image of an ageing box of spring mix in the back of the fridge than a feast, but this book is here to change all that. Elliott Dennison's is the owner of a perfectly dreamy all-day cafe in Edinburgh that serves up plates of elegant, vegetable-forward food that help you feel energized throughout the day, and this cookbook reflects that. These aren't measly side salads; instead, the book has recipes for dishes like tomatoes with nectarines and fresh burrata, or hot smoked salmon with avocado, grapefruit, toasted sunflower seeds and pickled radishes. The dishes are as accessible as they are beautiful, and with the author's background as a food stylist, they've been designed to be a feast as much for the eyes as they are for the belly.
Salad Feasts by Jessica Elliott Dennison, $30.20, amazon.ca.
FOR THE WEEKEND EXPERIMENTER
Pivoting off the success of his first vegetarian cookbook, Plenty, this cookbook sequel manages — at least in this author's humble opinion — to surpass its predecessor, both in the breadth and scope of the recipes included and the stunning photography that accompanies them. Plenty More includes recipes for an electric-yellow turmeric-laced savoury cauliflower cake, topped with concentric rings of red onion, and salads of summer-ripe tomatoes and pomegranate seeds glistening like wet jewels. Ottolenghi hails from Jerusalem and lives primarily in the UK, but the book isn't limited to a specific cuisine; instead, it's a celebration of international influences, essentially a global celebration of what can be achieved with produce in its prime.
Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, $35.96, amazon.ca.
FOR PLANT-BASED RECIPES WITHOUT THE PREACHINESS
The First Mess Cookbook
This might be Wright's debut cookbook, but it's hardly her first time around at recipe creation. This Canadian author has been a champion for plant-based, vegan cooking since the inception of her award-winning blog in 2011. The book is full of recipes that would be great not only for vegans but also for anyone looking to introduce more creative vegetable dishes into their repertoire, like Spice-Crusted Cauliflower with Walnut Sauce or Fudgy Nut and Seed Butter Brownies. The food in her cookbook — all styled and photographed by Wright, herself — is shot in Wright's signature style, where the cool light playing against close-ups of her cozy meals immediately draws the reader into feeling as though we're in the kitchen alongside her, ready to tuck in.
The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright, $31.50, amazon.ca.
FOR THE COOK WHO LOVES TO TRAVEL
Kaukasis The Cookbook
In this stunning cookbook, Hercules celebrates the vibrant culinary traditions of the Caucasis — Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, Russian and Turkey — complete with recipes, stories, and striking images of her travels. The cuisine in this region melds the very best of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, resulting in food that is naturally sun-kissed and flavourful, healthy and hearty, and (most importantly) as good for sharing as it is good for the soul. The photography in this cookbook is as enticing as the recipes themselves, with minimalist plates of unusual salads such as savoury peach, grape and tarragon, or a shot of fermented green tomatoes in the making, with a strong beam of afternoon sunlight piercing the darkness of a kitchen's interior. The food is healthy, to be sure, but not in a way that makes you feel as though you're restricting yourself; rather, it's a veritable culinary celebration, just waiting for you to flip to a page at random with a curious mind and voracious appetite.
Kaukasis The Cookbook by Olia Hercules, $32.40, amazon.ca.
FOR THE FAMILY DINNER PLANNER
Green Kitchen at Home
The bestselling cookbook authors and blogging husband-and-wife team behind Green Kitchen Stories created this masterful ode to easy, accessible weeknight vegetarian cooking — while still managing to keep things gorgeous, to boot. The photographs (all taken by Frenkiel) are in tune with their signature style, showcasing bold and vibrant colour palettes that make the dishes shine like jewels on their plates. There are recipes to fill your pantry with easy homemade ferments (truly the perfect condiment to top just about any dish), striking fuschia patties laced with beets, and a shimmering, luscious soup studded with vegetables titled, aptly, Fifty Shades of Green. The book also features shortcuts, such as using store-bought pesto or canned beans if you're short on time, making it an easy family favourite to reach for time and again.
Green Kitchen at Home by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, $35.97, amazon.ca.