Inspiring Cookbooks For Summer

From plant-based recipes to playful fusion dishes, there's something for every taste this season

In the warmer months—particularly on those humid, swampy days—cooking can become a chore. Thankfully an abundance of cookbooks are released in spring and summer to keep home cooks inspired and excited to experiment in the kitchen. From Ital influences to Indigenous Australian ingredients and Korean American fusion, these are just some of our favorite cookbooks this season.

Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home

From Korean American food writer Eric Kim, Korean America: Food That Tastes Like Home ($31) is part cookbook, part memoir and part archive. It’s a journey that explores Kim’s identity as a Korean American, through anecdotes, family recipes and fusion dishes that recall the early era of immigration. Within the pages, readers will find dishes like jalapeño-marinated chicken tacos with watermelon muchim, gochugaru shrimp and grits, and roasted seaweed sour cream dip. It’s playful and dynamic, but also thoughtful and imbued with real family stories—as so many of the most memorable meals are.

Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora [A Cookbook]

Curated by award-winning chef and activist Bryant Terry and published by 4 Color Books, Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora (A Cookbook) ($38) traverses time and location to capture the expansive multiplicities in Black culture. Through recipes, poetry, artwork and essays that explore food’s intrinsic connection with community and history within the diaspora, this rich cookbook encompasses the work of more than 100 Black luminaries, including visuals from Black Panther Party creative director Emory Douglas. Featuring a blend of traditional, contemporary and remixed dishes (from jerk chicken ramen by Suzanne Barr to okra and shrimp purloo by BJ Dennis) as well as an original playlist curated by Terry himself, this book is a treasure trove that readers will delight in losing themselves within.

Asian Green: Everyday Plant-Based Recipes Inspired by the East

Award-winning chef Ching-He Huang shares inspired, flavorful plant-based meals in her latest cookbook, Asian Green: Everyday Plant-Based Recipes Inspired by the East ($24). Ching’s divine dishes incorporate inspiration from various types of Asian cuisine—and often include protein-rich ingredients. The roster of exciting vegan and vegetarian recipes support anyone looking to reduce their meat consumption.

Mabu Mabu: An Australian Kitchen Cookbook

A professional chef for more than 25 years, Nornie Bero—who is from the Komet People of Mer Island in the Torres Strait—released her first cookbook, Mabu Mabu ($30) earlier this year. The book is named after her company Mabu Mabu, which comprises a catering service, small-batch products and two venues—Tuckshop and Big Esso—in Melbourne, Australia, but that name itself originates from a phrase in Meriam Mir (spoken in the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait, and Bero’s first language) which means “help yourself.” Growing up in Mer Island and Moa Island, Bero was often foraging, fishing and cooking with her father, and she shares plenty of insight into foraging and sourcing (and substituting) ingredients that are native to Australia. Some recipe highlights include pumpkin and wattleseed damper, kangaroo tail bourguignon and saltbudh butter. Ultimately the book is about more than just cooking, it’s about how food is a vehicle for connection.

Natural Flava: Quick & Easy Plant-Based Recipes

Brothers Craig and Shaun McAnuff—who are of Jamaican descent and live in South London—teamed up to develop the vibrant recipes in Natural Flava: Quick & Easy Plant-Based Recipes ($27), a book packed full of Caribbean influences and Ital (the Rastafarian diet centered on health and energy) inspiration. Using ingredients like plantain, ackee, yams, jackfruit, guava and more, the McAnuffs (who are behind Original Flava) guide home cooks through creatively tweaked classics and new and experimental ideas.

Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries

With Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries ($25), food writer Russell van Kraayenburg aims to help beginner bakers understand the steps—and five simple ingredients—behind homemade dough. Over 192 pages, complete with simple instructions and diagrams, van Kraayenburg opens up a world to delicious sweet and savory pastries. There are also trips and tricks to guarantee success.

The Whole Vegetable

Sophie Gordon’s The Whole Vegetable ($18) includes 130 recipes that will impress vegans with their creativity, but are also approachable for those just experimenting with entirely plant-based meals. Beyond recipes, chef and supper club host Gordon offers up tips for reducing food waste and using the fruits and veggies in unconventional ways. Filled with practical ideas (from boiling cauliflower stalks to using celery leaves as garnish) to more in-depth dishes (like rhubarb cashew cheesecake and courgette lasagne), the book is categorized by season—and summer is the perfect place to start.

Images courtesy of respective publishers, hero image courtesy of Mabu Mabu/Hardie Grant Books