The Love & Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio

“No one goes there these days, it’s too crowded.” — Yogi Berra

If this Spring’s crop of veggie-centred cookbooks is any indication, it’s going to be a plant-iful year for home cooks and foodies looking for a generous side of inspiration with their greens. New to the bounty is The Love & Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking, the much-anticipated release by blogger Jeanine Donofrio of the award-winning Love & Lemons blog. Inside are over 100 simple recipes organized around familiar fruits and veggies illustrated with fantastically fresh photographs and handsome graphic design. Jeanine wants readers to learn how to cook “backwards”, that is, build meals around what they already have on hand, rather than going to the store with a recipe list. The recipes and photos are there to inspire, to encourage cooks to put their own spin on things. And that they do. 

All of the dishes are vegetarian and in many cases, vegan and gluten-free. Missing are prep times and (increasingly less common) calorie counts (‘tho you won’t consider them missing if you’re used to cooking without). A handy cooking resource guide will be dog-eared in no time with instructions for cooking grains like farrow, quinoa and wheat berries and recipes for a number of sauces, spreads and dressings (cashew cream, peanut sauce, lemon-dijon dressing, to name a few).

Love and Lemons avocado strawberry caprese salad

I love avocados so that chapter caught my eye straight away, and they were delicious in the avocado strawberry caprese salad dressed with a bit of olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar. It hits the mark for texture, taste and colour and will be even better in the summer when local strawberries and tomatoes are in season.

Love & Lemons red pepper feta fritatta

Red peppers are the star in the red pepper frittata, only mine sunk to the bottom so I threw some tomatoes on top to brighten it up. Feta gives it some richness and red pepper flakes a little kick. Set it and forget it. This dish is a breeze.

Love & Lemons asian chopped cabbage salad

And red cabbage is so pretty in the asian chopped cabbage salad. Tofu, avocado and peanuts make it a filling meal and the peanut dressing a refreshing change from the usual Greek and ranch in our house.

My favourite recipes are the build-your-own variations for smoothies, salsa, guacamole, hummus and pesto (pesto change-o!) at the back of the book. The layout is simple, the ingredients beautifully photographed and the combinations ones I’d love to try. How ’bout hummus with roasted red pepper, toasted almonds and smoked paprika? Or pesto with pistachios, mint and fresh peas?

The Love & Lemons Cookbook is a friendly guide to fresh-veggie cooking that’s beautiful to look at, inspiring to read and a great book to have on hand heading into a season of plentiful produce.

What fresh fruits, veggies and herbs are your faves to cook with in the spring and summer?

Penguin Random House Canada sent me The Love & Lemons Cookbook in exchange for a review. All opinions and photos are my own.