Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi has great recipes with lots of creativity, heavily relying on spice blends and flavors that are still uncommon in most American homes. I would say that this book has been my best buy over the last few years. Usually, when I purchase a cookbook, I'm happy if there are five items I want to try. In this book, I want to cook and eat every recipe. And it doesn't hurt that the photography is beautiful!
This is a vegetable book- it's not about being vegetarian, it's just vegetable based; and most dishes can stand on their own or go great next to a nice cut of meat. So far every recipe I've tried has turned out beautifully, with (sometimes unexpected) synergistic flavors and nice balance between different components and textures.
If you don't have a well stocked spice cabinet, it would be hard to get started with this book. Most recipes have a few different spices as well as fresh herbs. Once you have all the components on hand, you'll find the flavor combinations addictive. I chose to share the recipe below since the ingredient list is pretty accessible.
Chickpea sauté with Greek yogurt
3/4 # swiss chard
5 T olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ lemon, juiced
1 T fresh mint, chopped
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 c Greek yogurt
1 T olive oil
Wash the chard, separate the stalks from the leaves, blanch the stalks for five minutes and the leaves for two, then chop both into ½cm dice.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan, add the carrots and caraway seeds, and sauté for five minutes. Add the chard and chickpeas, sauté for six minutes, then stir in the garlic, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
To serve, mix the yogurt, tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt. When the vegetables are warmish or even room temperature, pile them on plates and top with a tablespoon of the yogurt mix. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and some more oil.