A short history of how veg-centric books went from rustic to revolutionary.

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Cookbooks are pieces of history; they document the palates, rhetoric, photography trends, and even typography of a certain era, and few genres illustrate our cultural evolution as perfectly as the vegetable-focused cookbook. These five, released over the course of the past 40-plus years, not only belong in every home cook's library but also tell a fascinating tale of how we as a society went from stuffing mushrooms in casseroles to arranging them atop toast.

Cookbooks and vegetables
Credit: Photo by Grant Cornett / Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero / Prop Styling by Noemi Bonazzi

1977: The Moosewood Cookbook

By Mollie Katzen

What started as a tiny restaurant in Ithaca, New York, is now a corner-stone of American plant-based cooking. The first of 13 Moosewood cookbooks is full of charming sketches and was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Cookbook Hall of Fame.

The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Anniversary Edition, $17 at amazon.com

1997: Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone

In this no-nonsense, refined 1,400-recipe tome (which was reissued in 2014), Deborah Madison doesn't just tell you what to do with seeds and greens—she thoughtfully explains why it's important to apply certain techniques just so. Think of this as the produce bible.

By Deborah Madison

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, $34 at amazon.com

Deborah Madison's Brussels Sprouts and Smoky Onions on Cheddar Toast

2008: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

By Yotam Ottolenghi And Sami Tamimi

When Ottolenghi burst onto the scene in London with his pomegranate- studded salads, he changed the veg-centric cookbook's look forever with beautiful food photography and lifestyle stills from his cult-favorite namesake restaurants.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, $21 at amazon.com

Yotam Ottolenghi's Cauliflower-and-Cumin Fritters

2014: Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed

By Bryant Terry

From tofu po'boys to vegetable kebabs, this celebration of plant-based recipes inspired by the African diaspora is a critical reminder that veggies are supposed to be flavorful and fun.

Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed, $20 at amazon.com

Bryant Terry's Fried Yuba Tacos with Sweet Corn Relish

2019: Greenfeast: Spring, Summer

By Nigel Slater

British journalist Nigel Slater's minimalist approach to produce perfectly captures the zeitgeist in vegetarian cooking. He organizes his loose recipes by "on toast" or "with a ladle." Ditch those tweezers— there's no need to overthink this food.

Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, $20 at amazon.com