It’s no secret that I’m a cookbook fanatic. I could read cookbooks from cover to cover for hours and be my most content self. For most of the year but especially in the summer, much of what I decide to cook is based off of what’s available at the farmers market, in our CSA, or, (hopefully) this year, our garden. While fresh produce doesn’t always need a lot of intervention to make it great, it’s nice to have options to mix it up or to help you navigate less familiar vegetables. My favorite cookbooks in the summer are those that are centered around fresh fruits and vegetables and are simple and straightforward. I’m also drawn to my most quintessential Southern cookbooks because they highlight the bounty of the season so well, and because it’s my favorite time of year in this region. Today, I’m rounding up some of my most used and inspirational cookbooks this time of year.
The Gift of Southern Cooking: I found this cookbook used at a local bookstore a few years ago full of handwritten notes and dozens of classic recipes that remind me so much of my childhood and showcase the simple beauty in southern cooking. Such a treasure written by two southern gems.
Love and Lemons: I got this cookbook last year after seeing it pop up everywhere and being intrigued by the colorful, fresh recipes. I’m always a fan of cookbooks divided up by ingredient like this one. Now when I’m searching for what to do with my millionth head of cauliflower, I can pop open this book to be greeted with ideas like roasted cauliflower and red pepper soup or curried cauliflower fried rice.
Modern Sauces: Sometimes all you need to jazz up a simple dish is a really great sauce. This is my go to sauce book. It offers variations on every sauce you could ever want from tomato sauces to hollandaise to vinaigrettes. I love trying out new sauces like smoky red pepper mayonnaise or sauce vierge to pair with roasted vegetables or to add an extra punch of flavor.
For the Love of the South: I don’t know if I’ve ever had a book with photography I love more. Just like the recipes and stories shared in this book they provide such a strong sense of place with loads of Southern nostalgia. While this book is new to my library, I’ve earmarked loads of pages I plan to try out this season.
Market Cooking: I’ve mentioned this book on here before, and my love for it is still strong. David Tanis offers a tremendous number of recipes with superb technique to really highlight the beauty and flavor of farm fresh produce.
Soup of the Day and One Pot of the Day: Likely two of my most used books, there’s literally a recipe for every day of the year. While cooking with summer produce is something I look forward to all year, it doesn’t mean I want to spend all of my evenings in the kitchen, which is why I love these meals that are prepared all in one dish.
Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook (second edition): I’m not much of a baker, but when I’m in need of a recipe for a sweet treat, these books never let me down. My office was dangerously close to this bakery when I had an internship in Savannah, GA, and their cookbooks are (almost) just as good as the real deal. They’re full of classic baked goods like a peach and blueberry tart and chocolate cake.
Cooking from the Farmers’ Market: Another gem divided up by ingredient, this book makes deciding what to do with your market haul even easier. What I love is the number of fruits and vegetables and options for each that are included.
Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh: Who doesn’t love Emeril? I’ve had this cookbook forever, and it’s still just as delightful. I really love the Creole spin he brings to so many of the dishes.