Weekend Cooking: Moosewood Restaurant and Mollie Katzen’s Cookbooks

Badge for Weekend Cooking feature

After almost 30 years of putting dinner together a few times a week, I turn to the same cookbooks again and again: the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks and cookbooks by Mollie Katzen, originally part of the Moosewood collaborative.

Greek Pasta Salad, made from recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

With the garden produce dying out, I wanted to make at least one last lunch from stuff picked fresh from the garden. Since a few cute baby eggplants were ready to pick, as well as cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, and since we had Kalamata olives and feta cheese in the fridge, I pulled out one of my most used cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, for its Greek Pasta Salad recipe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any fresh dill (which really adds to the salad’s flavor) or scallions (which I meant to replace with red onion, but forgot) but the salad was still delicious.

Book cover imageThe Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY, includes fish on its vegetarian menus, so a few recipes call for fish or shellfish, but most of the recipes are completely vegetarian. What I like about the Moosewood cookbooks is that they use only ingredients that can be pretty easily found if you’re anywhere near a large town, so you don’t have to make a special visit to a natural foods store before using the cookbooks. They also make great reading, with their entertaining recipe introductions and casual air of friends in the kitchen; Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks also have pleasing illustrations and a friendly design. The recipe directions imply confidence in your culinary skills, giving you enough information but not an overload of strict precautions and precise measurements. None of them have intimidating glossy color photos of meals that look like they were made by professional chefs or put together by food stylists.

Another old favorite, The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, didn’t survive the transition from just-married to three-child family and Laurel’s Kitchen‘s didn’t survive the transition from country to city life, but the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks, as well as several by Mollie Katzen (especially Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest) have been the source of many favorite family meals over the years.

A neighborhood landmark, the Moosewood Restaurant has been owned and operated by a collective of the people who work there for almost 40 years, and was named one of the 13 most influential restaurants of the 20th century by Bon Appetit. (See Cornell Daily Sun article.) The Moosewood Collective also donated its papers, including some original cookbook manuscripts, to Cornell University’s Carl A. Kroch Library.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly feature hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Click here to check out all Weekend Cooking blog posts. A printable list of my favorite Moosewood cookbooks is on Book Lists page.

25 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: Moosewood Restaurant and Mollie Katzen’s Cookbooks”

  1. Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home is probably *my* most-used cookbook too. I bought it when it was first released and it has held up beautifully over the years. I love the black beans with mango salsa and the rice they suggest. YUM.

    I still have both my Vegetarian Epicure (the second book has the world’s best chocolate cheesecake recipe in it) and my Laural’s Kitchen.

    1. Oh, yes, I love black beans with mango salsa. I appreciate how much easier it is to get mangoes now, than back in the 70s; I would find it hard to be a true locavore in New England!

    1. I realized after posting that some of the things I keep on hand might be as a result of cooking some of these recipes, so might not be stuff everyone has on hand!

  2. I seriously need to take a look at the Moosewood cookbooks. I’ve only vaguely heard of them, but have never perused their books. It seems that I’ve been sorely missing out! Fortunately, I’ve got two well-stocked health food stores pretty nearby, but it’s nice not to have to overstock on ingredients 😉 There’s never enough pantry space!

  3. I love these cookbooks. You just made me realize I gave my favorite one away and I need to repurchase. I also really like the practical approach – good-tasting food with ingredients that are close to any home. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Yes, they are practical! Until I was writing the post, I didn’t realize I was missing out on other Moosewood cookbooks that I don’t own, but I really have no more space for new cookbooks at all!

  4. I had the Moosewood Cookbook and Laurel’s Kitchen. Both died in an ugly encounter with a rotting zucchini. It sounds like I should get Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home — I never had that one.

  5. I adore the Moosewood collection of cookbooks. I have two on my shelf and regularly borrow others from the library–The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is my favorite. It’s how I learned how to make amazing quiche!

    1. I felt bad for leaving The Horn of the Moon cookbooks out of the post! I used them a lot, too. I do need to make space for new cookbooks, but I definitely won’t be weeding The Vegetarian Epicure from the collection!

  6. Your salad looks yummy, and a cookbook that includes easy-to-find ingredients are such a boon, so much time can be spent hunting around a supermarket. How fantastic that the restaurant has been around for so long!

  7. What a great post! I’ve just finished up a month of doing weekly cookbook reviews (although I didn’t know that was a meme) and I also live in Ithaca, so I was particularly excited to read about the Moosewood cookbook. If you’d like to swap guest posts and each completely re-post one of each other’s cookbook posts, I think that would be a lot of fun 🙂 If not, I’ll probably at least share a link with my readers any way, recommending this post if they liked my cookbook series.

      1. Alright, just re-blogged your review. I was able to just highlight your post, right click to copy, and paste into my editor. Even the pictures copied, although I did have to set the alignment to make sure they were in the right place, but other than that, it just worked 🙂

Would love to have you comment!