Absolutely, without doubt, the best vegetarian cookbook I own is Linda’s Kitchen by Linda McCartney. From the first day I received the book as a gift it has become indispensable in my kitchen. The pictures alone would be enough to turn the most determined carnivore into a veggie, all in beautiful colour and the dishes arranged in a lovely homely way that just makes you want to gather the family around one big dinner table.
The book covers soups, starters, main courses, puddings, cakes and biscuits, so it provides an excellent all round reference for whatever you would like to make. There is a menu planner section which provides ideas for all seasons, occasions and numbers from small family suppers to buffets and barbecues.
My favourites have been a summer buffet for 24 (comes in handy for birthday parties), Sunday lunch (a regular get together time) and Christmas Dinner (always a time when people expect to eat meat, but usually the vegetarian alternative gets eaten first). My favourite Christmas recipe is the Layered Vegetable Terrine which is a layer of cauliflower with coriander, a layer of carrots with spring onion and ginger and a layer of spinach with nutmeg, each layer separated by a layer of mushrooms. Looks spectacular on the table and disappears in no time at all.
The recipes are easy to follow and don’t contain ingredients that are hard to come by. I have seen some vegetarian recipes that would be impossible to make without making a long trip to one of the larger supermarkets. All recipes have little paragraphs preceding them to describe the taste, colours and textures of the dishes and also there are little paragraphs throughout the book giving information about the vegetables, comparing fresh and dried varieties or giving advice on preparation.
At the end of the book there is a Question and Answer section about vegetarianism, setting out the reasons why this is a good diet to follow and it is certainly becoming an increasingly attractive option. The resurgence of the allotment as a source of vegetables for the family kitchen has taken off rapidly in the past year and coupled with a book like this there would certainly be no shortage of ideas for using them effectively.