Because we all needed a meat-free and dairy-free meatball parmesan.
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Credit: Arielle Weg

I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years, and one of my favorite foods is General Tso’s Tofu. It’s my go-to dish any time I order Chinese, but not something I ever felt comfortable making on my own.

That is until I picked up a copy of Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s new vegan cookbook, Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy Vegan. The recipe is everything that I've searched for in General Tso's: It's easy to make, and I was able to get perfectly cooked tofu coated with a thin layer of batter that didn’t fry to a heavy crisp. The sauce is sticky, sweet, and just a touch spicy. And that’s just one of her 125 delicious vegan recipes.

It’s dishes like this that make Coscarelli’s new book worth adding to your collection, whether you're a full-on vegan, or just dabbling in the occasional #MeatlessMonday.

The book officially releases on March 6, but you can preorder your copy on Amazon ($18.92) and Barnes & Noble ($19.92). Filled with bright, tempting photographs and a forward by Iron Chef's Michael Symon (yes, you read that right) it’s a cookbook vegans and meat eaters can enjoy together.

You may be familiar with Coscarelli's other three vegan cookbooks, or the restaurant, By Chef Chloe, that she co-founded and later left.

But Coscarelli's new book is chock full of vegan and vegetarian comfort food. And it’s dreamy. Think French toast, carbonara, ramen, nachos, and cupcakes — and all vegan.

But there’s more to this book than styled plates of pasta and snapshots of Coscarelli smiling with forkfuls of food, though there’s plenty of that. I tried to follow three of the most intriguing recipes to see if I’d really fall for the vegan versions.

The first recipe I attempted was the Fiesta Taco Bowl. It was pretty straightforward, with a delicious dressing and fresh ingredients. The result is reminiscent of By Chloe’s Quinoa Taco Salad. Though it could have used a little more heat, the result was pretty delicious.

The next meal I tried was the Sriracha Tempeh Alfredo, which I started eating straight out of the pot, because it was that scrumptious. It was my first attempt at making a "cheese sauce" out of cashews, and it was surprisingly easy. I eat dairy, and while this wouldn’t have fooled me, it was flavorful without feeling heavy.

The tempeh nuggets cooked in sriracha sauce were a perfect touch, and I could see a vegan diving right into this. Unfortunately, the sauce congealed a bit in the fridge so leftovers weren’t quite as good.

I already told you how much I love the General Tso’s Tofu. That’s really what this book is about: Finding ways to enjoy the kind of meat and dairy-rich meals we grew up with, but substituting plant-based ingredients and unique techniques.

A few reservations: While the book is definitely plant-based, that doesn't mean the recipes are healthy. Plenty of the recipes are veggie-forward, but many of recipes beyond the Soups & Salads chapter aren’t particularly good for you—they're comfort foods, after all.

Occasionally I found myself flipping through the recipes wondering “Where are the vegetables?” Don’t get me wrong, if you’re looking for a healthier, meat-free version of chili and cornbread this book has it. But you would definitely gain weight if all you did was eat from this book.

Still, there's a place for comfort food—it's warm, and filling, and indulgent. You shouldn't have to give those up, just because you're cutting out—or cutting back on—animal products.