Barbecue burgers and jambalaya aren’t what you expect in a vegan cookbook, but you can find them and many meat-lover favorites in Chloe Coscarelli’s new cookbook, Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan. Coscarelli rose to culinary stardom when she co-founded by CHLOE, a chain of fast-casual vegan restaurants, which has expanded across the U.S. and now, Europe. Some would say Coscarelli’s menu brought veganism to the masses, transforming the pork in tacos into spicy seitan chorizo and Italian meatballs into Portobello balls of veggie goodness.
But after some legal battles with her co-founder, Coscarelli parted ways with the by CHLOE chain in March 2017. A year later, Coscarelli pens her most personal cookbook yet, sharing the plant-based confections she’s cooked for her family, friends and boyfriend in her New York City apartment.
From cinnamon roll pancakes to cauliflower “buffalo” wings, prepare to give your tummy and taste buds a delight. Daily Burn had the chance to sneak behind the counter to speak with Coscarelli, as she was preparing to feed more than 300 dinner guests at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. Here are her top tips for preparing the most flavorful vegan meals — plus three recipes you can make at home.
5 Foolproof Tips for Delicious Vegan Cooking
1. Go raw to balance your meals.
While the latest diet trends have gotten many people on board with the ketogenic train or even the pegan diet (paleo-vegan), Coscarelli says going vegan is one of the best ways to get a healthy, balanced meal. In her new cookbook, finding the right balance of flavor and nutrition in every recipe is essential. “To make a complete meal, I like to include various components that add up to a nourishing and satisfying feel,” Coscarelli says. “For example, I always like some part of the plate to be fresh and raw, whether it’s mixed greens, a bed of kale, fresh salsa on a taco, or crisp lettuce, tomato and onion on a veggie burger,” she adds. And she uses color as a guide. “Usually if you have some rainbow on your plate, you’re getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients,” she says.
2. Add bulk with fiber.
When it comes to vegan meat substitutes, taste and texture are key. Coscarelli loves to play with different plant-based ingredients to get a similar consistency and flavor as non-vegan foods. In her Fiesta Taco Bowl recipe (pictured above), Coscarelli uses ground seitan, chili powder, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper to mimic the spicy, Mexican-inspired flavor and hearty beef in the traditional taco. “Instead of ground meat, I use whole, hearty ingredients, such as mushrooms, lentils, nuts and tempeh,” Coscarelli says.
3. Veg out.
Vegetables are the main food group for vegans, so it’s no surprise that it’s a major component even in the heartiest dishes. “My favorite way to cook veggies is roasting them in a hot oven to bring out their natural sweetness. I can’t resist the caramelization that takes place. They’re delicious as is, or pureed and added to sauces,” Coscarelli says. Coscarelli’s Meatball Parm recipe (picted above) uses roasted beets, seitan and brown rice to give the meatballs a robust texture. When combined with the mozzarella sauce, which is made with cashews, garlic powder, sea salt and lemon, it makes a show-stopping meal that’ll tempt the biggest carnivores.
4. Say (cashew) cheese.
Being part Italian, Coscarelli enjoys pasta so much that there’s an entire chapter dedicated to noodle dishes in her cookbook. “When I test a pasta sauce, I’m looking for the right consistency and texture. I don’t want anything that will be clumpy, pasty or dry,” Coscarelli says. “I love using cashews because they make the creamiest vegan sauces. If you’re making a nut-based sauce like a cashew cream, it’s important to warm it at a lower temperature so that it doesn’t dry out.”
Another pro tip is to use nutritional yeast flakes to add flavor to your “cheese.” Coscarelli uses it to prepare macaroni and cheese. In her Sriracha Tempeh Alfredo recipe (pictured above), she combines cashew cheese with garlic, Sriracha and maple syrup to mimic the savory and slightly tastes in an Alfredo sauce. To enhance the flavor of pasta sauces, Coscarelli adds dried herbs instead of fresh. She subs in 1/3 teaspoon dried herbs for every teaspoon of fresh.
5. Treat yo’self.
No meal is complete without dessert, even vegan ones. The Cupcake Wars-winning chef is known for her mouthwatering sweets, and her cookbook is filled with dairy-free cupcakes, donuts, pies and ice cream. Her trick for replacing eggs: “Vinegar is key! In baking, you can replace eggs with a mix of vinegar and baking soda, which reacts together to bind cakes and cupcakes without using eggs.” Coscarelli often uses apple cider vinegar in her desserts not only as a binding agent, but also for its balance of flavors. Instead of butter or margarine, Coscarelli swaps in healthy fats, like avocado and coconut oil. Her chocolate-avocado cupcakes recipe combines avocado with coconut oil, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and almond milk for the frosting.
Want more flavorful vegan recipes? Grab a copy of Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan, on sale March 6.