Most of us spent lockdown getting better acquainted with our kitchens than we ever intended to be. We’ve done banana bread. We’ve done sourdough. We’ve cooked for our families until we are on our knees.

But, tempting though it may be, we cannot hang up our oven gloves just as the summer arrives. This is the season for glorious gluttony, for al fresco feasting, for hosting with chutzpah. If you need to fall back in love with your stove, the answer is a new cookbook – or several.

Packed full of refreshing ideas, these new titles will tickle the taste buds of your whole table.

Main image: Petersham Nurseries

An A-Z Of Pasta

Rachel Roddy

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It doesn’t matter which eating regime you generally adhere to, sometimes the moment calls for pasta and pasta alone. When that moment hits, you need a book dedicated to the kings of carbs. This is that book. In it, Guardian columnist Rachel Roddy combines short essays about Italian culture with her exquisite recipes. Nigel Slater says: ‘I love this book. Every story is a little gem – a beautiful hymn to each curl, twist and ribbon of pasta.’ Buy it here.

Petersham Nurseries

The Boglione Family
Petersham Book

This isn’t just a cookery book; it is a treasure for your coffee table. When Francesco and Gael Boglione took on the dilapidated plant nursery beside their magnificent Richmond home in 1997, they did the world a great service. The Petersham Nurseries Café is among the prettiest restaurants in the world. This beautiful book tells the story of a family business that is also a family’s passion project. The 36 recipes within will bring a little of the Petersham magic to your own garden this summer. Buy it here.

Just One Pan

Jane Lovett

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When Sunday Times columnist India Knight makes a recommendation, it usually turns out to be a corker. She recently described Jane Lovett’s new Just One Pan as ‘easy family cooking at its best – completely unpretentious food that is always more than the sum of its parts’. So we suggest that you sit up and listen. Your guests will go wild for Lovett’s rhubarb and pistachio tarts. Buy it here.

Ripe Figs

Yasmin Khan

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With its mouth-wateringly evocative title, Ripe Figs deserves to be the cookbook of the summer. Food and travel writer Yasmin Khan has poured everything into this account of her journey through Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. You can almost smell the fresh produce that bursts out of every recipe. Courgette and feta fritter, anyone? The New York Times says of the book: ‘In a year without travel, it’s hard not to pore over the photography that breaks up the standard recipe shots: sunlit bushels of spices, olives, grapes, pomegranates spilling over at markets; streetscapes in Istanbul and Athens; small towns set against the dramatic blue Mediterranean.’ Buy it here.

One: Pot, Pan, Planet

Anna Jones

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When Anna Jones published her first cookbook – A Modern Way to Eat – seven years ago, she upgraded vegetarian cuisine forever. Her latest offering is just as stylish and just as forward-thinking. Her advice for an elegantly sustainable lifestyle is almost as valuable as her 200 recipes. You’ll never want to picnic again without her new potato tortilla with halloumi and tomato kasundi (a sort of tomato relish) in your hamper (see our feature on July seasonal recipes for more). Buy it here.

Afro Vegan

Zoe Alakija

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Zoe Alakija lives in London and has a background as an art director and food stylist. This is her first book – and a super attractive one it is, too. In it, 50 plant-based recipes combine Alakija’s Nigerian roots with a modern British vibe. Her nutty plantain brownies are dangerous. ‘These brownies are everything good brownies should be: decadent, moist, fudgy, and absolutely delicious to sink your teeth into. Most people think I’m joking when I say there’s plantain in them, but this ingredient is actually the key to the lushness and makes the flavour all the more caramelly,’ she says. Buy it here.

Cook Eat Repeat

Nigella Lawson

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Though this one is not brand new – it was published last October – it sneaks into the list because it is so damn good. Cook Eat Repeat’s fried chicken sandwich should be wheeled out in every garden across the land this summer. It looks like a regular burger but there is nothing regular about this sumptuous, spoiling sandwich from heaven. The Spectator described the book as: ‘A celebration of home cooking... Every page crackles with the sheer pleasure of cooking and eating.’ No wonder, then, that it won several Food Book of the Year awards in 2020. Buy it here.

By Becky Ladenburg
July 2021

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