Our Pick of the Best Recipe Books, Old and New

We at The Pure Package love food and we want you to love both eating and making it too! There is nothing more satisfying than tucking into something that you have cooked yourself. So, to that end, we have collected our pick of the best recipe books; ones that have inspired us to start the healthy, gourmet diet delivery that we do, and we thought we’d share them with you.

Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi

Many of you might already be familiar with Ottolenghi, through his ‘New Vegetarian’ column in the Guardian every Saturday. This recipe book is a collection of those very columns with a few extra unpublished recipes thrown in for good measure.

While this is a vegetarian recipe book, it never really feels like a ‘vegetarian cookbook’. This is probably because Ottolenghi himself isn’t a veggie, he simply loves vegetables… as do we. Drawing from his Mediterranean background every recipe is vibrant, innovative, original and healthy.

Some of the stand-out recipes for us combined ingredients that you wouldn’t usually expect, like the fresh and spicy spinach and coriander green pancakes, delicious aubergine, mango and noodle salad, or black pepper tofu.

Good Things – Jane Grigson

No cook should be without a Jane Grigson book. She is one of few English food writers who has had the unusual honour of having one of her books translated into French – usually it’s the French telling us how to cook!

This is a great read that goes above and beyond simply being a book of recipes. Broken down into 32 essays, Grigson covers a wide range of subjects – salting meat, preparing snails, cooking with rabbit and hare or even how to smoke your own kippers – as well as providing some really yummy easy to follow recipes.

Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch – Nigel Slater

Unlike Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’, Nigel Slater allows meat to creep into this book, and for a good reason too. Don’t get us wrong, the vegetables are the stars of the show here, but Slater knows how to get the most out of every type of veg, whether that means eating them on their own or with a piece of meat or fish.

The focus is ingredients that you can grow yourself; in the back garden, the allotment or even a window box. If you think food that you’ve cooked yourself tastes better, just wait until you’ve eaten food that you’ve also grown yourself. Who else can say that they know exactly where their meal has come from?

River Cafe Cookbook: Green – Rose Gray, Ruth Rogers

The concept behind this aptly-named book is simple and beautiful: Gray and Rogers go through the year, month-by-month, seeing what grows in the organic vegetable garden at their acclaimed River Cafe. This informs the structure of the book – each chapter represents one month and contains recipes for the sort of produce you’ll find at that time of year (and as we all know, seasonal veg is fabulous stuff).

This being the River Cafe, there is a strong Italian bent to most of the recipes and as such some of the recipes can be a little hard to find, unless you have access to a good Italian deli. However, if you’ve got your own vegetable patch or get a box delivered, this is the ideal book to help you get the most out of what’s in season.

A Year in My Kitchen – Skye Gyngell

‘A Year in My Kitchen’ follows a similar structure to ‘Green’, in that it is based around the different types of produce that are available throughout the year, only this time, Gyngell focuses more broadly on seasons than on individual months.

A wonderful idiosyncracy of this book is Gyngell’s concept of the ‘culinary toolbox’, which are a range of flavours and ingredients that form the basis of most recipes. Not only does this help you to learn specific recipes but also some of the key concepts behind good cooking, such as good flavour and texture pairings.

There are some fantastic recipes in here, and the book will really bring out the confident chef in all of us.

Delia’s How to Cook Book One – Delia Smith

It’s Delia – what more can we say? If you’re a little unsure of what Jane Grigson means by bain marie, or what a spatchcock is and why you would want to do it to a chicken, Delia is here to help.

As the title suggests, this is a cookbook for beginners. While there is certainly no shortage of beginners cookbooks out there, none are as thorough or clear as Delia’s. While some recipes may be too simple (boiled eggs?), many are things that the uncertain cook might never have thought to cook – moussaka, mushroom tartlets or simply brown bread.

Every recipe comes with an alternative healthy option as well – egg whites rather than whole eggs, fat-free white sauces, and baked rather than fried chips.

What is the best recipe book in your opinion? Do you think we should publish our own Pure Package recipe book featuring recipes based on our gourmet diet delivery dishes? Leave a comment and let us know!