Okay, be honest. How many cookbooks do you currently have on your shelf that you haven’t looked at in months? Or years? I’m betting that it is more than you’d willingly want to admit to. There is something about the release of a new recipe book that is irresistible, especially when it is written by a figure that you follow and respect. The fear that you could be missing out on your new favourite recipes is real. And even when the recipes are nice, I know that I’ll inevitably get bored of them after a few goes before they are pushed out of my weekly repertoire. There are a select few books that I do swear by, however, and return to again and again, which I thought I’d share with you today!
Best for: simple, healthy recipes and crowd-pleasers.
Jamie Oliver’s Superfoods. Despite being titled with a word I find misleading, I do really like this book. Before I stopped eating meat, I was really impressed by the Ceasar-style Salad recipe, with a delicious greek yoghurt-based dressing. The happiness pasta is my hands-down favourite recipe in the book, featuring aubergine and ricotta. Vegan eaters might find the choices in the book to be a little limiting, but there’s lots of vegetarian recipes if you eat dairy or are good at adapting ingredients lists.
Best for: seasonal eating and delicious salads and sweets.
Madeleine Shaw’s A Year of Beautiful Eating is one that I keep referring back to. Organised into seasons, with breakfasts, sides, light meals, pack ups and desserts featuring in each category, the book flows and is easy to navigate. All diets are catered for in this book. I like Madeleine’s little meal plans at the back as they encourage a “cook once, eat twice” mentality, utilising leftovers. (If you’re a plant based person and find meal plans helpful, or are just getting started, you can buy a 4 week meal plan in the same style on the Madeleine Shaw website that is dietician approved). I especially love the salads and sweet treats featured in this book, which all feel fresh and original.
Best for: vegetarian staples.
The River Cottage Veg book is one that I have probably picked up the most often over the years, coming back to it time and time again. I’d recommend it to anyone as a brilliant starter vegetarian cookbook, or as a shelf staple. The River Cottage has been instrumental to my approach to food. I remember getting another of the books signed by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall, and the bread book is my baking bible. Moreover, an evening spent at the River Cottage HQ in Dorset was pivotal to the development of my palette and confidence around food.
As a bonus, I’m tentatively adding the new Deliciously Ella cookbook at the end of this list. There are lots of recipes that I haven’t yet tried, plus being such a new release I know I’m being influenced by recency bias. However, I have enjoyed many recipes thus far, including a sweet potato and courgette stew, satay sweet potato, and the gorgeous fudge-y brownie recipe. Time will tell if it stays in my book!