Cooking food is one of the best ways to escape screen time, enjoy making something delicious and maybe healthy, perhaps with the radio on or a nice glass of something. On the other hand, it can be daunting and all too easy to fall into a rut with the same old meals, not least when you’re juggling ordinary busy weeks.
So what better than to give the gift of a cookbook this Christmas, or even treat yourself. Filled with flavour, this year’s pick of the crop also have some very relevant themes – whether that’s how to eat for the planet, eat more veg, use up your store cupboard staples or find recipes to suit your budget or abilities.
Anna Jones, One: Pot, Pan, Planet
Commonly referred to as the queen of modern vegetarian cooking, Anna Jones’ new book One Pot is her most forthright to date – explaining why we need to change our diets, eating less meat and more plants, to reduce our impact. Followed by a raft of delicious, colourful and easy-to-follow recipes for anything from midweek meals to social gatherings, eating for the planet never tasted so good.
£26, Harper Collins. Buy here.
Niki Webster, My Vegan Year: The Young Person’s Seasonal Guide to Going Vegan
Rebel Recipes, AKA Niki Webster, has a loyal following for her easy but delicious vegan recipes on Instagram, and it’s easy to see why. Her new book, My Vegan Year, spots a gap in the market to inspire young people interested in plant-based eating, but it’s her knowledge and interest in seasonality that sets her recipes apart. Where much vegan food writing focuses on plants alone, Webster combines it with an interest in sourcing, plus an awareness of lifestyles, to help readers eat vegan food in a way that benefits their health, and the health of the planet.
£14.99, Welbeck. Buy here.
Ottolenghi, Flavour and Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love
A former cover star of Wicked Leeks, Yotam Ottolenghi is the ultimate veg legend. His books might be regular – two new releases this year – but his collaborations with members of his Test Kitchen, a melting pot of culinary talents hidden away under the rail arches in north London, mean they’re always fresh and hard to resist. Look out for the first in the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen series – Shelf Love – with inspired ideas on how to use up everything in your cupboard, including a chapter on how to use up your veg box, Ottolenghi-style.
£25, Ebury. Buy here.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Eat Better Forever: 7 Ways to Transform Your Diet
With a career of food campaigning, cooking and growing food behind him, in his latest book Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall turns his hand to how to eat well. The first half of the book is dedicated to what this means, with research partly inspired by his own journey to weight loss and health, and covers everything from gut health, processed food, fitness, to sleep and drinking, while the second rounds up the recipes that will get you there. Part life coach and part cookbook, this is the book to start your new year with, and it’s as easy to follow and as engaging as the writer himself.
£26, Bloomsbury. Buy here.
Rachel Ama, One Pot: Three Ways
Famed for delicious vegan cooking, Rachel Ama’s new book aims to help people maintain a plant-based diet, not just on special occasions throughout the week, with recipes that are both full of flavour and designed to be flexible. With her Cajun oyster mushrooms described as ‘mind-blowing’, Ama’s cooking and recipes are enjoyed by both vegans and non vegans alike – surely the perfect accompaniment to anyone attempting Veganuary.
£22, Hodder & Stoughton. Buy here.
Ruby Tandoh, Cook As You Are: Recipes for real lives, hungry cooks and messy kitchens
Cookbooks might be glossy and mouthwatering, but they can also be exclusive, with many not recognising their kitchens, abilities or even themselves in the stylised food photography. Step forward Ruby Tandoh, with her brilliant take on accessible, inclusive cooking. Using illustrations instead of photos, swaps and subs to cater to all budgets, an awareness of limited abilities in the kitchen and a list of her influences and credits at the start of each chapter – not forgetting of course, the delicious food itself, quick and tasty meals that are already receiving rave reviews on social media.
£20, Profile Books. Buy here.
Deliciously Ella, Quick and Easy: Plant-based deliciousness
She brought plant-based cooking into the mainstream and it’s still hard to find someone who does it better – Deliciously Ella’s new book distils her healthy and nutritious vegan cooking into 100 new quick and easy meal ideas. As a mum herself, Ella’s work is particularly relevant to the time-poor parent, but it has a much broader appeal that continues to inspire vegans, non vegans, and the everyday busy eater.
£25, Hodder and Stoughton. Buy here.
Yasmin Khan, Ripe Figs
This beautiful book combines inspiring recipes from Greece, Turkey and Cyprus with stories about migration and refugees in a brilliant demonstration of how food can bring people together. At a time when many are fleeing terrible conditions in their own countries and forced to make risky journeys separated from loved ones, this book celebrates the influence of refugee communities on food in the eastern Mediterranean and encourages us to see commonalities in the human experience of food; surely the ideal Christmas read.
£25, Bloombury. Buy here.
Honey & Co, Chasing Smoke: Cooking over Fire Around the Levant
For the BBQ buff in your life, this book will take you on a smoky and flavour-filled tour through the Levant region in the Middle East, perfectly encompassing the authors’ love of grilling, food and travel. Following the tips of cab drivers and market sellers, Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s journey through the region brings flavour to the fore, and if you ever doubted BBQs work in winter, this book will have you reaching for the tongs.
£26, Pavilion Books. Buy here.
*All prices are RRP.