Jazzy Vegetarian Classics - Review & Giveaway!


I was so excited last month when BenBella Books reached out to me with an opportunity for another Cookbook Review and Giveaway.  I always love testing out new-to-me recipes, but I was especially excited about this book – Laura Theodore’s Jazzy Vegetarian Classics – thanks to all the rave reviews I’d seen online praising her healthy, vegan recipes.

Meet the Jazzy Vegetarian

And though they’d likely fool any omnivore or vegetarian, the Jazzy Vegetarian’s recipes are indeed 100% Vegan.  Here’s an explanation of her name from her website:

“Since I am totally vegan, and all of my recipes are vegan, people ask me why I am the Jazzy Vegetarian and not the Jazzy Vegan. Well, many years ago, when we were thinking of names, we wondered if most people even knew what a vegan was. Back then, it wasn’t part of the common vernacular. In fact, it was almost like a dirty word. Boy, have times changed!  

So, in fact, the Jazzy Vegetarian is vegan!”

And as for the “Jazzy” part… Laura is an award-winning Jazz vocalist!

She’s also the host of The Jazzy Vegetarian TV show on PBS and of a weekly Podcast (I love to listen to it while I’m batch-cooking on the weekends)!

With her busy schedule, it’s no wonder that her recipes are so healthful and simple, key to keeping up with her busy schedule.

Let’s Get Cooking!

I certainly got a LOT of use out of this cookbook already.  Here’s the run-down of everything I made:

  • Coconut-Encrusted Tofu Cutlets (p. 183)
  • Maple-Scallion Dipping Sauce (p. 45)
  • Green Beans Almondine (p.205)

Mike and I both raved about the Coconut Tofu.  These cutlets were so tasty and unbelievably easy to make – the extra-firm tofu didn’t even require pressing and the breading (which I normally struggle with) stuck beautifully.  The sweet & salty Maple-Scallion Dipping Sauce was the perfect pairing for the tofu, and was delicious on the baked sweet potatoes we served on the side too!

The Green Beans Almondine turned out perfectly crisp-tender and the colors were so pretty.  I also thought her method was really interesting – the green beans were never tossed with seasoning or oil.  Instead, the almonds were toasted in herbs & a smidgen of vegan butter, before being mixed into the beans.

  • Creamy Broccoli Soup (p. 106)

This recipe could easily be made in 15 minutes or less.  Mike cooked this one up and using Frozen Broccoli for a shortcut and Soy Milk for protein and it came out really great.  I’m planning to keep some frozen broccoli on hand at all times so I can whip this up whenever I need a quick bite.

  • Banana-Raspberry Breakfast Smoothie (p. 85)
  • Pineapple-Banana Strawberry Smoothie (p. 86)
  • Blueberry Green Smoothie (p. 85)
Her smoothies truly were “Classics” – the flavors reminded me of commercially prepared smoothies but without any of the mystery ingredients and hidden sugars.  Laura’s smoothies use only fruit and unprocessed sugars (optional Maple Syrup and Dates).  I will certainly be making all three of these again – the Pineapple-Banana Strawberry Smoothie makes a great post-gym snack with protein from soy milk,  the Blueberry Green smoothie tastes like the quintessential Blueberry Smoothie, and the Banana-Raspberry Breakfast Smoothie left me speechless.  I never knew Bananas and Raspberries paired so perfectly together!

Clockwise from Left:
Banana-Raspberry, Pineapple-Banana Strawberry, Blueberry Green

  • Caesar Salad, Jazzy-Style (p. 120)
    • with Caesar Salad Dressing (p. 52)
    • and Cashew Parmesan (p. 57)
  • Maple-Mustard Dressing (p. 51)
  • Four-Ingredient Dijon Dressing (p. 51)

To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the Caesar Salad dressing – but I also was recovering from a stomach bug around that time, so it could have just been me.  The easy Homemade Croutons in the Caesar Salad recipe were a huge hit though, as was the Cashew Parmesan Cheese.

In addition to the Caesar dressing, there are 7 other salad dressing recipes in the book, which all look like “Must-Try” recipes, with little or no oil and just a handful of ingredients.  Mike and I loved both the Four-Ingredient Dijon Dressing (a sweet mustard dressing) and the much punchier Maple-Mustard Dressing (also just 4 ingredients!).  Both are perfect for weeknight dinners and can easily be ready in 2 minutes.

Clockwise from Upper Left:
Caesar Salad, Homemade Croutons, Maple-Mustard, 4-Ingredient Dijon

  • Banana Milk-less Shake (p. 255)
  • Almond “Creamy” Pudding (p. 255)
There are actually 2 chapters in the book dedicated to desserts – “Cookies, Cakes, and Confections” and “Puddings, Pies, and Frozen Desserts”.  Somehow, I managed to pass many very decadent-looking treats (Turtle Cookie Squares! German Chocolate Cake!) and selected two lighter options.
I loved the Banana Milk-less Shake.  Thanks in part to my Vitamix, it was so fluffy and light.  Mike doctored his up with Peanut Butter & Coconut, but I had mine plain – both versions were delicious!
The Almond “Creamy” Pudding took me by surprise.  I knew I’d love this Tofu & Almond Butter “pudding” – but I wasn’t expecting Mike to love it as much as he did.

  • Spaghetti and Wheatballs (p. 150)
  • Dad’s Marinara (p. 48)
The Wheatballs were fun to make, and very easy thanks to the help of my food processor.  The main ingredients were ground-up walnuts, homemade breadcrumbs, and plenty of mushrooms. The wheatballs were very delicate and most fell apart as I was scooping them out of the Marinara Sauce, but I loved the comforting flavor of my Wheatcrumbles all the same!

  • Savory Seitan Loaf (p. 192)
  • Tomato-Mushroom Gravy (p. 45)
  • Kale with Maple & Tamari ( Tip – p. 204)
The Savory Seitan Loaf also had a really interesting method – it involved grinding store-bought Seitan in a blender.  While I still prefer the flavors of my Mom’s old-fashioned meatloaf, I’m eager to to try out this trick in place of the more-processed commercial “crumbles” I’ve used to veganize my Mom’s recipe in the past.
I also loved Laura’s “tip” for Jazzing up steamed greens with an easy mixture of Maple Syrup & Tamari, which I used on the Kale for this meal.

  • Lemon and Shiitake Mushroom Spaghetti with Capers (p. 156)

Last but not least, Mike cooked up a double-batch of the Lemon and Shiitake Mushroom Spaghetti with Capers.  The flavors of this recipe worked so beautifully together – sour lemon, salty capers, and savory shiitakes tossed with bitter arugula.  It was delicious, but seemed to be more of a side-dish than the balanced one-pot meal I was hoping for.  The next night I tossed in some Frozen Fava beans and a bag of Frozen Spinach and it made for a perfect meal!

Just for fun I counted up the recipes I tried above.  Would you believe I tried TWENTY?!? And these recipes were so easy and healthy I am sure I will continue to churn out many more of Laura’s classics in my kitchen.  I especially have my eye on the following recipes that I can’t wait to make:

  • Orange-Tahini Dressing (p. 53)
  • Raspberry-Tofu Smoothie (p. 84)
  • Strawberry Surprise Apple Muffins (p. 94)
  • Savory Mushroom Stroganoff (p. 171)
  • Steamed Green Beans and Carrots with Orange Sauce (p. 207)
  • Black Quinoa with Cremini Mushrooms (p. 221)
  • Black Forest Pecan Pie (p. 258)
  • Dreamy Banana Pie (p. 263)

Enter to Win!

The lovely folks at BenBella Books have offered to giveaway a copy of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics to a lucky VeggieNextDoor reader! (sorry – US or Canada only)

Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter:

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Stay Tuned

Next week I’ll be sharing a recipe from the book and an interview with the author!

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever made homemade Salad Dressing?

What’s your favorite way to eat or cook Tofu?

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