Category: salad

Avocado Wasabi Salad

Avocado Wasabi Salad

Yes, I know. It’s a salad.

Who wants to go to a vegan website and see a recipe for salad? I keep salads to an absolute minimum around here. So when one does show up, it’s a freakin’ delicious salad.

And this one is definitely freakin’ delicious.

I’ve had the idea of an avocado based salad dressing kicking around in my head for the last few days, and an avocado kicking around my kitchen counter. This salad is easy to throw together, and is a great entree salad, or a side salad for a dinner party or some such get-together.

The dressing is rich, and despite the title, is pretty damn tasty even without the added wasabi. You have my permission to leave the wasabi powder out altogether if you don’t like it or can’t find it.

I don’t know if my wasabi powder is old and has lost its kick, or if you need a massive amount of it to make things spicy (anyone with experience want to weigh in?), but this dressing was as mild as the day is long. It added a great flavor, but no heat. You may wish to add in your own wasabi powder slowly, tasting as you go, just in case yours is spicy.

The other ingredients are simple but flavorful as well. Pan-fried wasabi-soy chickpeas, sauteed broccoli, toasted almonds, and shredded carrots. I find this mixture goes particularly well together, adding crunch, sweetness, protein, and color. And they all pair wonderfully with the dressing.

Avocado Wasabi Salad

Speaking of the dressing, it’s pretty ugly stuff. This isn’t something you’re going to want to serve on the side for your guests. Toss it with the lettuce and then serve it. Just trust me on this one. You’ll see when you make it.

Avocado Wasabi Salad
Serves 4-6

Greens of your choice for 4-6 people
1 Carrot, shredded
2 tsp Vegetable Oil, divided
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Broccoli, chopped small
1/3 Cup Toasted Slivered Almonds
1 Recipe Wasabi Chickpeas, below
1 Recipe Avocado Wasabi dressing, below
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Wasabi-Tamari Chickpeas
1 tsp Oil
1 Cup Chickpeas
1 tsp Wasabi Powder
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 Tbs Low Sodium Tamari/Soy Sauce

Avocado Wasabi Dressing
1 Ripe Avocado, diced
2 tsp White Wine Vinegar
3 Tbs Hummus, plain or garlic
1 tsp Stoneground Mustard
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Wasabi Powder
1/4 to 1/3 Cup Vegetable oil

Begin by whisking the dressing ingredients together, except for the oil. Whisk until smooth. If your avocado isn’t super ripe, you may wish to blend the dressing in a food processor. Slowly add oil until emulsified and the dressing is smooth, refrigerate until ready to use.

Toast your almonds in a dry pan over medium heat if they are not already toasted. Set aside.

In the same pan, add 1 tsp of oil and add broccoli. Sautee over high heat until the broccoli is beginning to color in spots and is bright green, but still tender-crisp. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.

Add the second teaspoon of oil to the same pan and add the chickpeas. Reduce heat to medium-high. Cook the chickpeas until they are golden on all sides, using a spatula to loosen them as necessary, but don’t worry if they stick a little. Add the wasabi powder, sugar, and tamari and stir well. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, add your salad greens. Add the broccoli, 3/4 of the chickpeas, 3/4 of the almonds, and 3/4 of the carrots. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Plate the salad, and garnish the top with the remaining chickpeas, almonds and carrots. Crack fresh black pepper over the top. Serve immediately.

If you are serving the salad later, do not add the dressing until the last minute.

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Avocado Wasabi Salad

BLT Salad

BLT Salad

This salad isn’t exactly… healthy. What it is, exactly, is delicious. And it has a surprise. There’s no lettuce. The greens are baby spinach, and raw kale.

Stay with me, here!

Yes, I said raw kale. I know you are thinking that I have finally gone off the vegan deep end. But I swear, the water is nice!

You can eat raw kale, too, if you pay attention to these three things: the kind, the cut, and the preparation. Follow these three steps and I swear you’ll be eating your kale raw and loving it.

The first step is finding the right kind of kale. Lacinato kale is perfectly suited to eating raw. I find that it’s thinner and more tender than the other varieties, but sadly, it’s not nearly as common. Look for long, thin, flat leaves that are slightly dimpled.

Lacinato Kale

It’s not always obvious what the best cut is for a certain dish. Small, thin strips of kale is integral for this salad, or any meal where the kale is served raw or lightly cooked. When the kale is cut this way, the dressing has a much easier time tenderizing the kale without having to cook it. Larger pieces of kale would be much harder to eat.

With regular lettuce, you wait to add the dressing until just before serving. Otherwise the salt and acid in the dressing starts to break down the fresh, crisp greens, leaving you with a soggy mess. With a kale salad, this is to your advantage! Dress the salad ahead of time and refrigerate it for a bit. The dressing will soften up the kale just the right amount. Plus, the addition of a creamy dressing compliments kale’s flavors nicely.

BLT Salad

There are many fake bacon products out there. My favorite is what I’ve used in this recipe, Lightlife’s Smoky Tempeh Strips. While the package says “Fakin’ Bacon” I find that it’s not at all like what I remember of the real thing, but I still like it. It’s smoky and salty and tangy, and it’s AWESOME in this salad (or on sandwiches). But as awesome as it is, bacon it is not. If you’re looking for something that more closely approximates the texture and flavor of bacon, there are probably other brands out there, but I haven’t found one that I like.

One last note: due to the sturdy nature of kale, this is the perfect picnic and pot luck salad. You can throw it together ahead of time and it’ll be perky and crisp when you get around to serving it. If you’re looking for a side dish that can stand up to summer entertaining, this recipe is a good bet.

BLT Salad
4-6 Side Salads

1 Head Lacinato Kale (aka Tuscan or Dinosaur Kale)*
1 Package Lightelife Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips**
2 Tbs Peanut Oil, divided
1 to 1 1/2 Cups Baby Spinach, Packed
1 to 1 1/2 Cups Sweet Cherry Tomatoes (about 25)

1/4 Cup Vegenaise Mayo
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Agave Nectar
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*You can also use regular lettuce if you like, just make sure not to add the dressing until just before serving.

**Sub baked tofu, another mock bacon, or my Smoky Miso Tofu.

Wash and dry kale. Using kitchen shears (or a knife, or your fingers), remove and discard the center stem from each leaf. I find scissors makes the job quick and easy:

Deveining Kale

Stack the kale leaves on top of each other and slice into thin strips with a sharp knife:

Chopping Kale

Place the cut kale into a large bowl. Whisk the dressing together and toss with the kale until evenly coated. If you are using regular lettuce, keep the dressing separate until just before serving. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, longer is no problem.

Meanwhile, prepare the “bacon.” Slice the tempeh strips into thin, small pieces, and pan-fry in 1 Tbs peanut oil for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on the edges. Drain on a paper towel and set aside:

Fakin' Bacon (tempeh)

Next, add another tablespoon of peanut oil to the same pan you cooked the bacon in (don’t wash it out!). Cook the tomatoes with 1/4 tsp salt for 3 minutes over high heat, or until beginning to soften and the juices are starting to come out. Remove to a bowl, with juices, and set aside.

Assembling the salad

Once you are ready to serve the salad, chop up the baby spinach and toss it with the kale, making sure everything is now covered in dressing. If you are using regular lettuce, mix in the dressing now. Add 3/4 of the bacon and the tomatoes and toss again. Plate, topping the salad with the rest of the bacon and some freshly cracked black pepper. Serve.

BLT Salad