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The Saucy Vegetarian:
Quick & Healthful No-Cook Sauces & Dressings

by Joanne Stepaniak

Reviewed by Audrey E. Nickel

Cool ranch dressing. Rich, creamy, Hollandaise. Classic Caesar salad. Hot “hero” sandwiches dripping with gooey cheese sauce. All nostalgic no-no’s on your healthy plant-based diet, right?

Think again! With this new book from Joanne Stepaniak, you’ll soon be enjoying healthy versions of these old artery-clogging favorites that are so “real” it’s downright scary! And if your tastes run to more exotic and eclectic fare, don’t worry…there’s plenty here for you too. Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette, anyone? How about Spicy Peanut Sauce for your Chinese noodles or steamed vegetables? Or perhaps a plate of pasta topped with Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Pesto? You’ll be amazed at the symphony of fl avors you can create with a few simple ingredients and a blender.

The Saucy Vegetarian is really three books in one. It is, of course, a cookbook (or rather an “uncook book,” as none of the recipes require cooking), featuring recipes for virtually every kind of savory no-cook sauce and dressing imaginable. It is also a source book for devising imaginative vegetarian meals, as well as a reference for improvising your own special creations. Section headings include: “Planning Vegetarian Meals,” “Perfect Presentation,” “The Six Basic Tastes,” and “Developing Your Own Recipes.” Use each section as an independent manual, or as a means to steer you through the process of preparing grain-centered vegetarian meals and inspired sauces and dressings.

A particularly nice feature of the recipes in this book is that they truly are quick to make, and easy too, even for the beginning cook. While trying recipes to choose one for this review, I was assisted by my seven-year-old daughter, who pointed out several times that “I could do this myself, Mom!” (interspersed with “yum!” and “more please!”). We made two sauces (“Classic Ranch Dressing” and “Heavenly Horseradish Sauce”) in less time than it took to devour the results (about 25 minutes). No matter what your level of cooking expertise, you’ll be a confident gourmet in no time!

Joanne Stepaniak, MSEd, is a writer, counselor, educator, and recipe innovator who has been involved with vegetarian-and vegan-related issues for more than three decades. She is the author of The Vegan Sourcebook, a comprehensive guide to compassionate vegan living, as well as seven vegan cookbooks, including Delicious Food for a Healthy Heart, Vegan Vittles, The Uncheese Cookbook, Table for Two, and The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook. In addition, Stepaniak has been a contributing author to a number of books, pamphlets, national publications, and magazines. Visit her website at www.vegsource.org/joanne.

Classic Ranch Dressing

From The Saucy Vegetarian, by Joanne Stepaniak. Reprinted by permission.

Makes about ¾ cup

¾ cup crumbled silken tofu *
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon umeboshi plum vinegar **
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ teaspoon crushed garlic
¼ teaspoon dill weed
Pinch of dry mustard

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth and creamy.

* A soft, smooth tofu used for sauces and des-serts. Usually found in the Asian food section of your well-stocked supermarket.

** A salty, sour, vinegar made from umeboshi plums. Sometimes called “ume vinegar.” Found in Asian groceries, in most natural foods stores, or in the Asian foods section of your well-stocked supermarket.

Per tablespoon: Calories 32, Protein 1 g., Fat 3 g., Carbohydrates 1 g.