My recent post on Ten Reasons Why You Should Eat Less Meat generated a resounding request for recipes.
My favorites come from colorful cookbooks that either eschew meat completely or use it primarily as an accent rather than as a main course.
Super Natural Cooking will get you whipping up meat-free stews, salads, entrees and desserts with such flair your friends and family will think you've gone to "natural" cooking school. Written by Heidi Swanson, the gourmet behind the 101Cookbooks.com website, Super Natural Cooking covers everything from burgers, pancakes and chocolate cookies made with mesquite flour to sweet potato spoon bread and black tea spring rolls.
I'm particularly fond of the "spring minestrone," a light soup made from shallots, garlic, asparagus, snow peas, green peas, medium grain brown rice and vegetable stock. Shop at local farmer's markets, which are just beginning to fill with many of these early-season vegetables, Serve with a loaf of whole grain bread or the seed-crusted amaranth biscuits detailed in the cookbook.
If you're still eating meat, but less, Almost Meatless is the cookbook for you. The Vegetable Ragu Lasagne uses only 6 ounces of ground turkey in a casserole that serves eight. The Grecian Frittata derives its protein from eggs – and its interest from artichoke hearts and kalamata olives (it is "Grecian," after all). Written by Pennsylvania food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond, the recipes also include seafood and chicken, plus just a smattering of meat for those who want the taste but perhaps not the bulk that meat adds to a meal. Crab Pad Thai, made with the usual rice noodles, roasted peanuts and bean sprouts, gets very yummy when enhanced with lump crab meat.
If neither of these concepts tickles your taste buds, don't despair. Ten Speed Press has published many others you can choose from, divided into categories like "healthy cooking" and "star chefs."
Here are a few more cookbooks I keep in my kitchen.