Summer isn’t my ideal season to crank up the oven and try a new recipe, but it is a favorite time to open and explore a new cookbook. I’ve spent the last month at the beach, by the lake or anywhere with air conditioning, reading, savoring and marking recipes to try on a cooler day. This season serves up more vegan cookbooks than I have space to write about, so I’ve selected seven books best-suited to summer reading.

These 2018 titles continue the use of Instagram-worthy photography and the inclusion of recipes for kitchen staples, such as plant-based dairy and condiments. But it’s the homemade vegan meats that take centerstage.

In its 2018 Summer Food & Drink Trends report, market research firm Mintel forecasts vegan barbecue will be among four trends that take hold this season.

It appears the publishing houses saw the vegan meat trend coming and have delivered two vegan barbecue cookbooks and one vegan butcher shop cookbook. All three merit a read. (At least two more plant-based meat cookbooks will be published later this year.)

I’ve also picked four books that lend themselves to summer because of their emphasis on speed or their warm-weather flavors. And not to worry. I didn’t forget dessert.

“Crazy Easy Vegan Desserts: 75 Fast, Simple, Over-the-Top, Treats That Will Rock Your World,” by Heather Saffer. Sterling Epicure. $19.99.

With an emphasis on quick baking, this hardbound cookbook contains a variety of gluten-free, vegan treats from Saffer, who owns the Dollop Gourmet line of vegan frostings. The recipes rely on store-bought or internet-sourced ingredients (including the Dollop frosting) and other shortcuts. One recipe calls for two things: premade cookie dough and raspberry jam. Others use box cake mixes, vegan cream cheese or instant hot cocoa mix. The book is divided into three sections: Easy (sugar cookie fruit pizzas, bourbon pecan pie bars, and beignets), Very Easy (double-chocolate crispy rice donuts, strawberry shortcake bites, and key lime truffles) and Crazy Easy (almond joyish bars, Mexican hot cocoa party mix, and banana split ice cream).

“From the Kitchens of YamChops: North America’s Original Vegan Butcher Shop,” by Michael Abramson. Page Street Publishing. $21.99.

YamChops opened in 2014 in Toronto and wowed diners with its plant-based re-imaginings of meats and prepared deli foods. Now the shop’s vegan butcher Michael Abramson reveals his secrets with recipes for YamChops meats such as Szechuan beef, Korean BBQ ribs, chick*n schnitzel, meatless meatballs, and coconut ba-con. Many are seitan-based. Other plant-based replacements bring the salad to the main course such as carrot lox, tomato sashimi and carrot hot dogs. The book includes recipes for the shop’s soups, salads and grain bowls, along with a variety of sauces and plant-based cheeses. The closing chapter is simply called “Chocolate” and features recipes for chocolate-banana cream pie, rocky road fudge, black bean brownies, and cauliflower-chocolate pudding, among others.

“Great Vegan BBQ Without a Grill: Amazing Plant-Based Ribs, Burgers, Steaks, Kabobs and More Smoky Favorites,” by Linda and Alex Meyer. Page Street Publishing. $21.99.

This mom and daughter team behind the food blog Veganosity brings the delights of the grill inside for city dwellers and people who live in northern climes. Calling on their Southern and Midwestern heritage, the pair offer dishes such as Alabama white sauce BBQ sloppy Joes, smoky peach and bourbon chik’n skewers, mac ‘n’ cheese with coconut bacon, and cheesy grits. In addition to recipes for sauces and sides, the book supplies plenty of plant-based meat recipes including South Carolina pulled BBQ, Texas BBQ brisket, classic BBQ short ribz, Old Bay grilled scallops, and BBQ jerk chick’n. Many recipes rely on vital wheat gluten or jackfruit to achieve a meat-like texture.

“Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan,” by Bettina Campolucci Bordi. Hardie Grant Publishing. $29.99.

Plant-based chef, globe-trotter and London resident Bordi shares vegetable-forward recipes that are both vegan and gluten-free in this substantial hardbound book with thick pages. Many of the dishes were developed and served at wellness retreats, and their health-halos shine through in dishes such as bright, healing turmeric porridge & warm berries; beetroot quinoa, macadamia ricotta & orange dressing; and chickpea flatbread & marinated chunky chickpeas. Other recipes give a nod to Bordi’s travels (Korean rice bowl with all the sides and multi vegetable paella & avo aioli) and her love of vegetables (garden vegetable soup with fresh herbs and smoky sumac green beans). The book finishes with pantry staples and desserts.

“Real Food, Really Fast: Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Ready in 10 minutes or Less,” by Hannah Kaminsky. Skyhorse Publishing. $19.99.

More than 75 recipes that emphasize speed and global flavors fill this cookbook from author, photographer and blogger Kaminsky. I’m not convinced I could complete all the dishes within the advertised timeframe (no doubt I’m a slow chopper), but the actual cooking times are all under 10 minutes. To shorten cooking, Kaminsky makes liberal use of frozen vegetables, microwaves, blenders and food processors. The recipes are on-trend (chia seed congee; daikon scallop skewers; jackfruit sloppy Jacks) and accessible (hash brown waffles; all-dressed potato chip nachos; sausage gumbo burgers). The book ends with fast dessert recipes, including cheesecake stuffed strawberries; s’mores baked Alaska; and white chocolate–peanut butter fudge.

“Tahini & Turmeric: 101 Middle Eastern Classics – Made Irresistibly Vegan,” by Vicky Cohen & Ruth Fox. Da Capo Lifelong Books. $24.99.

The sisters who wrote this hardbound book live in New Jersey but grew up in Barcelona, Spain, in a Jewish family that hails from Lebanon and Syria. In the cookbook, they take the hot weather cuisine that gives us the vegan staples of hummus and falafel and make everything vegan. The result is a feast for the senses with dishes such as overnight oats with cardamom and pistachios; fava bean and fried artichoke basmati rice; roasted cauliflower with green tahini; quinoa-harissa meatless meatballs; and sweet and savory quinoa-stuffed eggplant. A section on breads includes za’atar manaish; sweet challah rolls; and Abuelita’s savory bourekas. Desserts that close the book include chocolate-dipped stuffed dates; pistachio “nicecream” with halvah sauce; and creamy tahini cheesecake with pistachio crust and fresh pomegranate.

“VBQ – The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook: Over 80 Recipes – Seared, Skewered, Smoking Hot!” by Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer. The Experiment. $19.95.

Horn and Mayer are the authors of Germany’s popular vegan blog Eat This! and they take their barbecue and their vegan food seriously. In this book, they combine the two passions and serve up vegan meats, main dishes and sides that can be made on a barbecue. They start by offering detailed instructions for buying a barbecue, choosing the charcoal, using different cooking methods, smoking “meats” and cooking vegetables before diving into the recipes. Plant-based meats include grilled bratwurst, vegan spareribs and spicy chorizo. Recipes for celeriac steaks, cauliflower cutlets and Japanese eggplant hot dogs transform whole vegetables into meatlike entrees. Other dishes include grilled veggie subs, pulled mushroom sandwiches, tandoori tofu skewers, grilled butternut squash tacos and Vietnamese pizzas.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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