Book review: The joy of cooking vegetables |

Book review: The joy of cooking vegetables

The following are my two favorite cookbooks, both of which feature delicious and simple recipes in which vegetables are the stars of the plate.

The authors of “Thug Kitchen” boldly claim the motto, “eat like you give a f*.” Uncouth? Yes.

This cookbook is riddled with F-bombs and foul language. But as soon as you get past the shock factor of the innumerable expletives, you’ll laugh and then appreciate the wisdom of the “Thug Kitchen” motto. The authors’ mission is admirable: to remove the mystery and elitism shrouding healthful cooking, to bring vegetables to the masses and to encourage readers to thoughtfully consider what they consume.

This all-purpose cookbook features plant-based recipes for meals, snacks and sides. Recipes are simple enough for beginners to master yet creative enough for experienced home cooks to appreciate. Sprinkled throughout the book is useful culinary advice including how to use scraps to make a veggie stock, and how to use scary-sounding ingredients like “nooch” and liquid aminos as healthy substitutes for cheese and salt.

I appreciate “Thug Kitchen” because all the ingredients required are accessible and inexpensive — most are ingredients I have in my kitchen at all times. Recipes are vegan (no animal products) but are nutritionally balanced and flavorful.

I recommend this cookbook to vegetarians, absolutely. Yet omnivores will appreciate this book too — a friend of mine mentioned using the book for weeks before realizing she had not made a single recipe with meat…and she did not even miss the meat.

This cookbook is truly an Off the Beaten Path favorite: at least six members of the staff use it regularly. We love “Thug Kitchen” and know you will too.

Brassicas are a diverse vegetable family that includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and mustard. Full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, brassicas rank among the most nutritious foods. Yet brassicas have a bad reputation for having overly strong flavors or unpalatable textures.

“”Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables” by Laura B. Russell

In “Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables,” Laura Russell gives these vegetables a PR makeover and demonstrates how delicious veggies can be when prepared properly.

An all-purpose cookbook, “Brassicas” includes 80 recipes to encourage readers to incorporate vegetables into every meal and snack. I appreciate the recipes for celebrating the innate flavors of each vegetable, rather than masking them.

Russell categorizes brassicas based on their flavor profiles and provides guidelines on how to pair flavors. She also includes valuable advice on handling and preparing each vegetable — did you know you have to massage kale before you use it in a salad?

All recipes in “Brassicas” are gluten-free, though not all are vegetarian (brussel sprouts with pancetta and fig glaze, anyone?). My favorites are the green smoothie recipe, kale chips and cabbage confetti quinoa. Bon appétit!

Emily Katzman is a bookseller at Off the Beaten Path bookstore.

These books are available at the Bud Werner Memorial Library and at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore; e-book can be found at

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