Claire mentioned two cookbooks in her post that I wanted to highlight, because I think they are both top-notch:
Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
The title says it all. The recipes are entirely vegetarian – and many are vegan or have vegan variations – but the cooking in it will appeal to almost anyone. The reason, in my opinion, is that it’s not a book about how to make wheat gluten taste like bacon. It’s a book about how to bring out the best in vegetables and grains, which are pretty goddam good things on their own. And even if you love to chow down on some animal flesh from time to time as I do, there are a lot of good reasons to eat less meat these days whether for your health, for your wallet or for the environment. This book will show even the most vehement of carnivores that there’s more to vegetarian cooking than tofurkey.
Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
OK, the title is probably an overstatement, but every time I’ve turned to this book for a particular dish, it’s been there. It was the first cookbook I ever bought, and I still use it regularly. A great primer for a novice chef and a good reference for anyone, it comes in a very soothing shade of yellow. Bittman now has international and vegetarian versions of this book, which I’m eager to have a look at and cook from. If anyone’s used them, I’d love to hear about it.