Dragon Fruit, Arugula, and Avocado Salad

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This salad is a delicious combination of tastes and textures: fresh and creamy, bright and peppery.  It’s super easy and quick to make, with just a few ingredients!  Plus, it looks impressive and is perfect for serving guests; dragonfruit has a mild taste (I find it similar to kiwi) and shouldn’t scare off those who haven’t tried it before.

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Yield: 2 large or 4 side servings

  • 1 large dragon fruit
  • 1 package baby arugula
  • 2 avocados, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or more, if you prefer)
  • ¼ cup olive oil (or less, if you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar

To prepare the dragon fruit, first cut it in half lengthwise.  Using a large spoon, separate the flesh from the rind.  Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes.

Combine the arugula, dragon fruit, and diced avocado.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and agave nectar.  Taste and adjust with more lemon juice if desired.  Pour the dressing over the salad, gently toss to coat, and serve immediately.  *If you aren’t ready to serve the salad, hold off on adding the dressing until just before serving.*  Enjoy!

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Tabouleh Lentil Salad

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I love tabouleh.  I love lentils.  In this salad, they love each other.

This is more of an idea than a really specific recipe, per se.  I needed to make a quick lunch, threw this together, and it was fresh and filling at the same time (not to mention low-fat, high-protein)… perfect.

All of these measures are estimates, and I think that you could combine these ingredients in just about any proportions and the result would be delicious.

  • 1 cup green lentils, cooked and cooled (dry measure)
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 of a red pepper, finely chopped (to brighten the colour and add crunch)
  • 1/3 of an English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves (for a normal person) or ~6 garlic cloves (Garlic Fiend option), pressed through a garlic press or finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Salt and pepper

Mix it all together.  Eat it for all your meals and snacks until there is none left.

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Wheatberry Salad with Cranberries and Parsley

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This is my go-to salad to bring to potlucks and barbeques.  It always gets the same response from people, gradually moving from “What is this?” to “This is so weird….” to “I love it!”

This salad is really intended to be a vehicle to showcase wheatberries, which are my current grain obsession.  All of the listed quantities are suggestions and can vary a lot depending on your preference.

If you aren’t familiar with wheatberries, beyond whatever google says, they are kinda like extra-chewy bulgar. At No Frills they are inexplicably located in the baking aisle, in bags, labeled ‘soft wheat.’ I cook them like pasta – boil them in lots of salted water for about 15 mins, then start checking until the texture is firm and chewy but without a hard centre.  No need to pre-soak!

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Makes about 3-4 cups

  • 1 cup (uncooked measure) soft wheatberries – cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (variation: dried currants)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or whatever seeds)
  • 3-5 green onions, sliced
  • A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon (maybe one and a half)
  • Olive oil – a big glug
  • Salt and pepper

Mix it all up and add more of whatever.  This salad keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge.

Variation: Sometimes I add diced English cucumber if I know the whole salad will be eaten at once; it won’t keep as long in fridge if you include the cucumber.

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Best-Ever Vegan Caesar Salad

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My stepfather is known for making amazing from-scratch caesar salad dressing, and despite his omnivorous diet, he’s very open to trying vegan recipes and vegan alternatives to his own recipes.  He and I brainstormed a veganized caesar dressing a while back that used vegan mayo.  I’ve been adjusting it since then to get it down to more whole-food ingredients.  This dressing has a pinky-eggplant colour due to the kalamatas.

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When I have it on hand, I like to add some vegan parmesan to this dressing.  Galaxy brand makes a soy-based parmesan that smells and tastes amazingly like the real thing and is a nice addition to the dressing, or you can sprinkle it over the plated salad.  However!  This dressing is fantastic and complete without the parmesan, so don’t worry if you don’t have any around.

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Yields 6-8 servings (or 2-4 if you LOVE caesar salad!)

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into large pieces
  • 1 large ciabatta roll (or focaccia, ficelle, part of a baguette, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Caesar Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic (more if they’re small)
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 8-10 kalamata olives, pitted
  • Optional – 1-2 teaspoons of vegan parmesan

Preheat oven to 300.  Cut ciabatta into large cubes (about 1.5 inch). Place in large mixing bowl and sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at about 300 for about 5 minutes until toasted – keep an eye on them.

Blend all dressing ingredients together (I prefer using an immersion blender and blender cup but a food processor works too).  Taste and adjust to your liking: add lemon to make it brighter and more zesty, olives or dijon to add richness, or olive oil to tone the whole thing down a bit.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl, pour dressing over, and toss well to coat.  Add croutons and give it a couple more tosses to combine.  Serve immediately.

Note:  If you’re not sure you’ll eat the whole salad right away, I suggest only combining a portion of the ingredients.  That way, you can keep the prepped lettuce, croutons, and dressing separate in the fridge and have a fresh perfect caesar again the next day!

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Entrée Salad with Crispy-fried Tofu and BBQ’d Veggies

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Fire up the barbeque!  This salad has it all.  The quinoa and tofu provide protein, the mushrooms and corn add a nice smoky-savory element, and the raw veggies and dressing make the whole thing taste so fresh and amazing!  It’s also really filling… I couldn’t finish mine, which is something that almost never happens.  Preparing this salad involves some multi-tasking, but it’s well worth it.  More than half of the ingredients are pantry staples, so don’t be daunted by the list.  This recipe makes two entrée salads.

  • 1 romaine lettuce heart, washed and chopped
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked but for one layer of leaves
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped into large rectangles (about 1×2 inches)
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup quinoa (dry measure), cooked according to package directions
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • For the tofu:
  • Half-block extra-firm tofu
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Canola oil
  • For the dressing:
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Big handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup (or more if you like a sweet dressing)

(Note: I recommended cooking the corn and mushrooms on the BBQ, using a grill basket for the mushrooms.  If this isn’t convenient for you, you can boil the corn and roast or sauté the mushrooms.)

The corn can be placed directly on the grill over medium-high heat.  Toss the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and pour them into the grill basket over medium heat.  Every few minutes, turn the corn and stir the mushrooms.  The corn is done when it’s bright yellow and has a bit of char, and the mushrooms are done when tender and juicy.  After cooling it for a few minutes, cut the corn off the cobs using a sharp knife.

While the corn and mushrooms are cooking, get going on the tofu.  Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add a generous amount of cooking oil such as canola. Slice the tofu into ¾ inch-thick slices, then cut the slices diagonally into triangles.  Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and dredge the tofu triangles to coat.

Carefully place the tofu triangles into the pan and swirl the pan a bit to ensure they are all sitting in a nice oily bath.  Flip them when they are nicely browned on the bottom, after about 3 minutes.  I like to cook crispy tofu quite well so that it dries out a bit and has a nice chewy texture…. So give them a few minutes on the other side until they look like perfect, crispy, golden wedges of yumminess.  (This tofu recipe is adapted from Fresh Restaurant’s crispy tofu cubes recipe, from their Refresh cookbook, which I highly recommend!)

Place all the of the dressing ingredients in a blender, food processor, or nutri-bullet, or use an immersion blender… just make sure all that yumminess is nicely pureed into a glowing green elixir.

Time to assemble!  Divide the lettuce between two large plates, and arrange in rows the green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, quinoa, tofu, and corn.  Drizzle the whole thing with the cilantro dressing, and put any remaining dressing on the table, because you’ll probably want to add more.  Enjoy!