Thursday, October 13, 2011

Veganmofo: Sald Expose!

 Ok Mofo-ers, this is a rare occasion around these parts but I'm going to do an expose on salads. Yes, that is right, greens and raw vegetables in all their vegan supposed glory.
Now I'm not the biggest fan of salads as most of you know, but there are few things that for me make salads both palatable and worth eating. So let me break this down for you in how to make sure your salads are extra tasty and more than a side dish.

 First up, is the grain salad. If I don't know it's a salad, I'll eat it. I like grain salads for their portability, tastiness and above all their lack of lettuces. Sorry lettuce. This is AFR mango black bean quinoa goodness. Salads based in grains just sit better with me, they seem like more real food and they hold dressing like a champ.
 The next one is a shocker, but Vegetables. Yup, they go in salads sometimes they can even make the whole thing worthwhile. Fresh peppers are perhaps my favourite their subtle sweetness and crunch make it worth while. Other pickled vegetable offerings can add busts of flavour which help the boring lettuce-y nature of our salad companions.
Dressings! This may be my favourite part. Pre-vegan I hated all forms of creamy dressing due to my general icky-feelings towards cream and weird milk/egg mixtures. But vegan creamy dressings rain supreme. Vinaigrette are all well and good, but something about the fattiness or thickness which clings to your selection of ingredients put thicker dressings above the rest for me.

This is where you salad gets the most of it's flavour, so shop around or better yet make your own! Additions like maple syrup for sweetness, Dijon for spice, blended dressings lend their thickness to every bite. Even if you stick with same base day in and day out, swapping your dressing is an easy way to avoid boredom.
 On that flavour note, seasonings. I know, seasoning a salad sounds trite, but I enjoy the difference it makes. Obviously if you have a green thumb or cash to burn, fresh herbs and seasonings are best. But I find even a simple sprinkle of complimentary dried herbs lending their flavours can turn a salad into something I have to eat into something I want to eat.
 Perhaps my favourite part of salads! Toppings! Adding all kinds of stuff to make it more interesting. Flax seeds for texture/omega 3, chickpeas are an all around salad champ! legumes, means, fruits, bacos (vegan bacon bits) or anything else your little heart desires! Make the salad your own, top it with nooch, spicy peppers! Nuts, Seeds, Sprinkles! Anything to make it less boring.
 On the topping note, there is the fruit option. I used to be a firm believer in fruit salads keep their fruit and vegetable salads should never be eaten (I've obviously become lax in my views). Turns out adding fruit or other sweet bits to a savoury salad can make it pretty fantastic. Especially with creamy or spicy dressings, having the natural sugar pops the vinegar. This one has a raspberry vinaigrette with cranberries! Strawberries, raspberries, apples are all classic choices. I've heard good things about grapes and even banana. If adding fruit to your veggies still sounds too scary, make a fruit salad! anything to change up the normal routine.
Finally, protein. This is what takes salads from blah to meal quality for me. Plus it comes together super fast if you keep a selection of things on hand. Some seitan sausage, tvp, bacos, tempeh bacon or croutons, nuts, seeds all add a little something to make salads more than just rabbit food. Another option is the addition of fats, from flax seeds, nuts, avocado, and oils! These also help with balancing out a salad into a meal.

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