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Plant Eater's Paradise: 2012's Best Summer Cookbooks

Illustration: Strawberries shaped like books grow in a garden.
Harriet Russell

This summer, cookbooks are going for the low-hanging fruit. And the low-growing vegetables, the high-hanging nutmeats, and the free-standing grains. Out of orchards, farms and gardens, food you don't have to chase or butcher is taking center stage in some of the season's best recipes.

Summer is, after all, so often a time of accidental vegetarianism. It's when even carnivorous folk (myself among them) are seduced by fields and farm stands, lured in by lettuce and tempted by tomatoes. We don't necessarily set out to go meatless. But a couple of fruit smoothies and several bowls of baby greens later in the lazy heat of a stove-avoiding afternoon, that's just what happens. And so, to help you make the most of summer's bounty, here are 10 cookbooks that take their inspiration from that most peaceful of kingdoms — the plant kingdom.

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T. Susan Chang regularly writes about food and reviews cookbooks for The Boston Globe, NPR.org and the Washington Post. She's the author of A Spoonful of Promises: Recipes and Stories From a Well-Tempered Table (2011). She lives in western Massachusetts, where she also teaches food writing at Bay Path College and Smith College. She blogs at Cookbooks for Dinner.