The best and newest vegetarian, vegan, and vegetable cookbooks and recipes

Welcome to the last of my three-part segment on great summer cookbook reads.

In the first part (two posts back), I covered some really interesting books and I included two great, brand new, vegetarian recipes, so if you are looking for new inspiration, go take a look (of course, there are more vegetarian recipes, below, too).

In the last post I included cookbooks that focus on foreign foods. Lots of great inspiration there, but of all those wonderful books, I was particularly fond of the Japanese noodle book; noodles are such an art form overseas, aren't they?

Today, I'm going to look at the books that are sure to speak loudest to all of us: Books that are vegetarian or vegan or just have some really great vegetable and fruit recipes.

So pull up a lawn chair and some great limeade and join me for some really great reads.

Vegan soul kitchen
Soul food, okay. But vegan soul food? Hmmm. Seems like an oxymoron to me, like jumbo fish. But then I flipped through the recipes.

Caramelized Grapefruit, Avocado, and Watercress Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette. Double Mustard Greens and Roasted Yam Soup. Green Beans with Roasted Shallots and Walnuts. Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper Sauce. Sweet Cornmeal-Coconut Butter Drop Biscuits.

Are you not already licking your lips?

I'm not even going to waste my time talking about how inspiring this book is. Instead, I'm going to include some of the amazing vegan recipes from the book, below, so you can see for yourself.

Now that you have your dinner, you are going to need something for dessert. And have I got a book for you.

Babycakes is a vegan, gluten-free bakery in Manhattan that, good for us that are not in Manhattan, came out with their own cookbook.

You'll find recipes for everything from gingerbread and apple pie to chocolate chip cookies, biscuits, scones, and cupcakes. But what totally owns me is those red velvet cupcakes. Go grab a copy and take a look. You can thank me later!

Cooking Green
Here's a clever cookbook that shines, not because of the recipes, but because of the information.

What do I mean?

See, the recipes don't excite me because they are, ho hum, the same old flavor combinations we've seen time and time again (and, of course, a lot of them include meat). But what is exciting is that the recipes translate the theme of the book (reducing our carbon footprint) into reality through a variety of methods, such as, say, the cooking method used.

And that sort of thinking can be applied to any recipe.

But, even better, the book also has all sorts of tips, from cooking resources to fuel efficiency to help you address global warming issues right in your own kitchen.

Again, the ideas are not all that new, but it is convenient to have them all in one place.

So now you see why I think this is a clever, clever book.

L.A.'s original Farmers Market Cookbook
From the same publisher that brought us the wonderful The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook, comes the L.A. version, just as fun and fascinating and sumptuous as the SF version.

So wonderful, in fact, that, while all the books I've reviewed in these three posts have their charms, this one may very well be my favorite. Why? It is brimming with inspiration. Inspiration that we can capture and use in our own home.

Here are some of the recipes to tempt you: Mediterranean pizza, apple dumplings, mee goreng (fried noodles), fried zucchini, and miso soup.

But, wonderful as the recipes are, what I really love about the book is the stories about the eclectic collection of people behind the dishes. Combined, the two give you a wonderful sense of, and hunger for, the place.

Vegan recipe: Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper Sauce
4 to 6 servings
1 cup dried black-eyed peas sorted, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup raw peanuts
1 teaspoon minced thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon cornmeal
5 cups coconut oil

Remove the skins from the beans by adding them to a large bowl, filling the bowl with water, agitating the beans, and fishing out the skins that float to the top with a fine mesh strainer. Rinse beans well.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the beans, onion, peanuts, thyme, cayenne, vinegar, water, and salt and pulse until completely smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Remove the batter from the refrigerator, add the bell pepper and cornmeal to the batter, and beat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, warm the oil until hot but not smoking, about 5 minutes.

Lower the oil to medium high, and in batches of 5, spoon the batter into the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Fry, stirring around, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. If necessary, adjust the temperature to ensure that the fritters do not cook to quickly.

Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate and allow them to drain. Transfer the drained fritters to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.

Serve hot with Hot Pepper Sauce.

Vegan recipe: Hot Pepper Sauce
1 cup

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse sea salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 habanero chile, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

In a saucepan over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, cumin, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until the onions start to caramelize, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and chiles and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar, and water. Mix well, and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer all the ingredients to an upright blender, and purée until smooth. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.

Vegan recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Ginger-Peanut Dipping Sauce
Serves 4

4 uniformly shaped medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled
1 tsp. course sea salt
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Dipping Sauce
1 heaping tablespoon minced ginger
½ cup toasted peanuts
½ cup apple juice
1 tsp. agave nectar
⅛ tsp. cayenne
¼ tsp. coarse sea salt

For the fries
Cut the potatoes into slices about ½-inch thick and then cut them ½-inch lengthwise into the shape of fries.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Combine the sweet potatoes, 3 quarts cold water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot over high heat. Parboil, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and pat well with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels until completely dry. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil.

Arrange fries on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes, gently stirring every 15 minutes with a wooden spoon to ensure even browning, until tender and caramelized.

For the dipping sauce In an upright blender, combine the ginger, peanuts, apple juice, agave nectar, cayenne, and salt and blend until creamy. Transfer to a small bowl.