The pandemic sparked a return to cooking at home, and with that, sales of cookbooks spiked. As home cooks search for new ways to spice up everyday meals, what are the new trends emerging?

Cookbook fans unite! In this segment from Under The Radar, Callie Crossley and our food contributor Amy Traverso each pick three of their current favorite cookbooks — and dish on why they love them!

Amy Traverso, food editor at Yankee Magazine, co-host of GBH’s “Weekends with Yankee,” and the author of recently updated “The Apple Lovers Cookbook."

Featured Cookbooks:

"Super Natural Simple: Whole-food, Vegetarian Recipes for Real Life" by Heidi Swanson

"Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories"by Nigella Lawson

"See You on Sunday: A Cookbook for Family and Friends"

"How To Grill Vegetables: The New Bible for Barbecuing Vegetable Over Live Fire" by Steven Raichlen

"Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes"by Bryant Terry

"The Arabesque Table: Contemporary Recipes from the Arab World" by Reem Kassis

A few favorite recipes:

Chocolate, Tahini and Banana Two Ways

From "Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories" by Nigella Lawson.

Gives approximately 10 slices of banana bread or makes a molten cake for 2–3

A warm, soft and squidgy cake, it is both embracingly cozy and almost regally sumptuous. You could serve it just with crème fraîche, a little bit of tang to offset the molten cake’s richness, but I stir 4 teaspoons of tahini into 1 cup of heavy cream and whisk gently by hand and for not very long, until it’s softly whipped. And I don’t stop there: after I’ve dolloped the tahini cream onto my dessert, I drizzle over some (store-bought, not homemade) date molasses, which is like sticky toffee pudding in syrup form.

Whether you’re making the delectable banana bread or the molten cake do try and get proper Middle Eastern tahini, which is smoky, smooth and fluid, with a full-bodied velvetiness.


  • 2 medium (approx. 250g) very ripe or overripe bananas (to give ¾ cup mashed)
  • ¼ cup (55g) olive or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (50g) tahini, at room temperature (and see recipe intro)
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) whole milk Greek yogurt, at room temperature (but only for the dessert)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (50g) superfine sugar
  • ¼ cup (50g) dark brown sugar for the dessert; 3 tablespoons (35g) for the bread
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (60g) all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
  • 3 tablespoons (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 ounces (approx. ½ cup or 100g)
  • bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ teaspoons sesame seeds, to sprinkle on top (only for the bread)


1. Heat the oven to 325°F if you’re making banana bread, or 350ºF for the molten cake. Put a paper liner into a 1-pound loaf pan or, for the molten cake, get out an ovenproof dish with a capacity of about 3 cups; mine is 7 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep.

2. Peel the bananas and, either by hand or using an electric hand mixer, mash the bananas, then beat in the oil, followed by the tahini. If you’re making the molten cake, beat in the yogurt. Whether you’re making the molten cake or the bread, now’s the time to beat in the egg, then the sugars and vanilla.

3. Whisk or fork together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and slowly beat into the batter and when you can no longer see any specks of white, fold in the chocolate chips with a bendy spatula, which you will need to scrape the runny batter into either loaf pan or ovenproof dish. If it’s banana bread you’re making, sprinkle over the sesame seeds.

4. First, instructions for the bread: cook for 45–50 minutes until risen and firm to the touch, or until a cake tester comes out almost clean; some chocolate chips will make it a little sticky in parts. And don’t worry about the cracks on the top; that is part of its deal, as it is for the molten cake. Let it cool completely in its pan on a wire rack and — if you can bear to wait — once it’s cold, slip it out of the pan and wrap it in parchment paper, then foil, and leave it for a day before slicing and eating.

5. And now for the molten cake: cook for 40–45 minutes, depending on whether you want it to have a gooily molten center or not. Once it’s out of the oven, let it stand for 5–10 minutes before diving in for that first squidgy spoonful.

Copyright 2021 Nigella Lawson. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Peanut Stew with Spinach & Miso

Reprinted with permission from "Super Natural Simple: Whole-food, Vegetarian Recipes for Real Life" by Heidi Swanson

This is a substantial, creamy peanut stew with plenty of spice from a good dollop of curry paste. Use your favorite brand of curry, a homemade paste, or even the ubiquitous Thai Kitchen brand. Canned crushed tomatoes are easy to find (and good here!), but this soup gains extra depth of flavor with canned fire-roasted tomatoes. I thought about making the miso optional, because, really, it is. But it’s a nice addition, lending extra body, flavor, and dimension.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1⁄2 cups diced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste 1⁄2 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes 4 cups water
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges, to serve
  • Chopped cilantro, cooked brown rice, or toasted peanuts, to serve (optional)


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and curry paste and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Stir in the peanut butter, tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Stir in the spinach, bring the stew back to a simmer, then remove the pot from the heat.

Stir in the miso, taste the stew, and add more salt as needed.

Ladle the stew into bowls and serve each with a wedge of lime and any or all of the suggested toppings. Serves 6.

Copyright © 2021 by Heidi Swanson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.