Category Archives: Salads

Quinoa tahini-mint salad-2

All the Good Stuff Quinoa Salad with Tahini-Mint Dressing and Za’atar

Serves 3-4

 Quinoa tahini-mint salad

 

I know when you write a food blog you’re supposed to have this whole story behind what you make, like the mystical journey of a pea that was destined to become bruschetta or something, but honestly, that is rarely the case for me. When I do my grocery shopping, 90% of the time I just buy what’s fresh and cheap with no idea what I’m going to make with any of it. I then get hungry, open the fridge and throw something together.

If I’m inspired by something, it will usually be the memory of a dish I’ve eaten before, or something I see on a restaurant menu that sounds good but that I’m too stingy to pay for. And so, it often happens that I have a recipe all ready to post, but nothing interesting to say about it apart from ‘this is yummy’. Sometimes I sit in front of the computer for an hour thinking about what to say and then give up. Sometimes things aren’t particularly special and are just straight up, honest good food that taste great and that’s the end of the story.

This is one of those dishes and one of those days. Loosely inspired by the Monkey Salad at Israeli street food joint Tahina, this is easy, yummy and filling but light enough for the scorching hot days we’re having at the moment. So yeah. Here it is.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, washed well

1 small head broccoli cut into florets (around 3 cups). Use the stalk too, it’s the best part

1/2 head cauliflower cut into florets (around 3 cups)

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes

Kernels from two fresh cobs sweetcorn

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp chilli powder

Pinch ground cumin

Olive oil as needed

A few pinches za’atar

 Dressing

Scant 1/4 cup tahini (the runny, pouring consistency kind)

Juice of 1 lemon (just less than 1/4 cup/around 45ml)

1/4 cup water

Big handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Large tsp rice malt syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 220C. Place the sweet potato onto a tray and drizzle generously with olive oil. Toss through a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Place in the oven and bake until nice and soft and a little bit caramelly on the edges, around 30 minutes.

Place the cauliflower onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Don’t be too stingy with the oil. Mix the paprika, chilli and cumin together with a pinch of salt and toss through the cauliflower until well combined. Move to one side of the tray in a single layer. Toss the broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and place on the other side of the tray. Roast until the edges are nice and toasty, around 20 minutes.

Set veggies aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, place the quinoa into a saucepan with 1 3/4 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, stir and reduce heat to low/  a very gently simmer until the water has been absorbed. Stir, cover with paper towel and a lid and leave for 10 minutes. Remove lid and paper towel and fluff with a fork. It should be perfect.

3. Heat a little oil in a pan and throw in the corn. Cook until they start to brown. Set aside

4. Mix all dressing ingredients together in a bowl. You’re going to want to mix the lemon juice into the tahini first, then gradually add the water mixing well after each addition to avoid lumps. If it’s too thick add more water as needed. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

5. Toss the veggies and quinoa together in a large bowl/platter. You can serve this warm, at room temperature or cold, so whatever tickles your fancy. Drizzle with the dressing or serve it separately at the table. Sprinkle with za’atar and serve.

nicoise salad

Nicoise Salad

Serves 4 as an entree or light meal, or 2 very hungry people as a main

Yes, another salad. What was that I was saying about vegans not eating salad for every meal? It must seem as though I was lying. I wasn’t, of course. I often eat non-salad meals. And when I do eat salad, you can bet your life it ain’t no bowl of lettuce and cucumber drizzled with balsamic vinegar. What’s that even about anyway? Does anyone actually enjoy it? Not I, not I.

A Nicoise salad is in my opinion one of the top 5 salads of all time. Much like a really good coleslaw, potato salad, kale salad and Asian salad, this classic French dish it should be part of everyone’s salad repertoire. It’s a complete meal, supremely satisfying, totally delicious, pretty and when made vegan, very healthy. I’m actually surprised I’ve never come across a recipe for a vegan Nicoise salad in all these years, or been served one in a restaurant. Served with a glass of really excellent Rosé, this is one of the best meals I can think of to eat on the balcony overlooking the warm setting sun, or at a picnic. Of course, it’s also outrageously good at 10pm sitting around your cluttered dining table with your housemates.

I really urge you to give this recipe a go. If you’ve never tried a Nicoise salad before, you’re in for a treat. If you loved the original, you’ll find all the great flavours and textures in this version with no need for animal products. Just eat it.

Ingredients

* You can change up the vegetables depending on what you have/like. The beans, tomatoes, potatoes and lettuce are a must, but you can swap radish for cucumber or red capsicum, or add one or both as extras. Artichokes are also a great addition. I make it based on how I’m feeling and what’s fresh at the grocer.

250g fresh green beans

1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 bunch radishes (approx 5 large radishes), sliced 2-3mm thick

A few handfuls of butter or romaine lettuce (don’t use a bitter lettuce), roughly torn

1/2 cup olives (I prefer a mix of Sicilian green and Kalamata)

1 heaped tbsp salt preserved capers, thoroughly rinsed

For the potateggs

12 new potatoes (or any small potatoes)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp olive oil or melted vegan butter

1/4-1/2 tsp kala namak (Indian black salt), to taste

Small pinch turmeric

For the chickpeas 

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 sheet toasted nori

2 tbsp flaxseed oil

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste (but don’t skimp on either)

For the dressing

120ml olive oil

4tbsp red wine vinegar (or to taste)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, crushed to a paste

1 tsp dijon mustard

Handful fresh basil (10-15 leaves), fine chiffonade

Sea salt, to taste

Instructions

1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just fork tender. Add the green beans and cook another 40 seconds only. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix and set aside

3. Prepare the chickpeas. Use your hands to crush the nori up as fine as you can get it. Add to a food processor with the chickpeas, flax oil, olive oil, a good pinch of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Pulse for a few seconds until the chickpeas are broken up. Don’t turn it into a dip. Alternatively, you can mash them with a fork, but the food processor gives better texture. Adjust salt to taste and set aside.

4. Prepare the potateggs. Cut the potatoes in half. Using a teaspoon or knife, whichever you find easier, scoop the middle out to make a little crater in the potatoes. Place the scooped out stuff in a bowl with the nutritional yeast, olive oil/butter, 1/4tsp of the kala namak and the turmeric and mash until you have a smooth paste. Add more kala namak if you want it eggier, or just regular salt as needed if you don’t. Using a teaspoon, fill the craters with the mashed potato mixture. Set aside.

5. Toss the radishes with a pinch of good quality sea salt and set aside.

6. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously until emulsified. Stir in the basil and season to taste. Depending on the olive oil you use, you made need to add a little more vinegar.

7. Assemble the salad. Arrange the vegetables in separate piles on a a large platter. Place the chickpea mixture in the middle, allowing it to scatter over the other ingredients in places. Scatter the olives over the lettuce, and the capers over everything. Arrange the potateggs around the outside of the platter. Drizzle with dressing, making sure to get it over the potatoes too. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh basil. Or arrange it however you want,  in individual serving bowls if you prefer. I prefer everything separate, and letting diners mix it up on their own plates.

mango quinoa salad

Mango Quinoa Salad

Serves 2 as a big main course, or 4 if you serve something with it

I don’t have much to say about this dish other than that it is delicious, refreshing, healthy and satisfying. I created this salad on the first scorching hot day of mango season last year, when I got excited about summer and went out and bought a huge bag. It really hit the spot, and I have made it over and over. I found myself craving it a few days ago and thought it was time I shared the recipe here. I often hesitate at sharing such simple things, but then sometimes the simple things are the best.

This salad doesn’t need a dressing, as the acidity from the lime juice, the saltiness from the quinoa and the juice from the mango makes it a ‘self-dressing’ salad. It’s high protein, oil-free and once the quinoa is cooked can be thrown together in five minutes. It makes a wonderful lunch or weeknight dinner, or a fantastic pot-luck or BBQ contribution. To make a serious meal out of it, some grilled chilli tofu on the side would go down a treat.

Just a note – if your salad looks different from mine, that would be because I didn’t have any jicama on hand this time, and only had one carrot. It was still very delicious, but not as nice to look at.

Ingredients

1 cup mixed quinoa

1 tsp salt

1 3/4 cup water

2 med-large sweet mangoes (out of season you can use 5 frozen mango cheeks, just defrost them first)

1 avocado, diced

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 medium carrots, grated

1 small jicama, peeled and julienned (optional, totally not necessary if you can’t find it, but deliciously crunchy if you can)

1/2 cup currants

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

Zest of 1 lime

Handful fresh mint, cut chiffonade

A few good handfuls baby spinach, sliced

Black pepper, to taste

Method

1. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa and place into a saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to the boil, and reduce to a simmer until the water has been absorbed and little tails are peeking out of the quinoa. Turn off the heat, place a piece of paper towel over the quinoa and cover with a lid. Allow to sit 15 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork. You should have perfectly cooked quinoa with a delightful pop and slightly chewy texture. Leave to cool

2. Meanwhile, cut the cheeks off the mangoes and dice. Cut the skin off the flesh around the pips and squeeze it all off into the bowl, the more juicy and squished up the better. Combined the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and give a good mix.  Set aside (in the fridge if it’s a hot day) until the quinoa is ready. Once the quinoa is cool, mix it in. Done. How easy was that?

 

 

 

potato asparagus salad

Potato & Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing

Wow, have I been neglecting this blog lately. I guess I got extra lazy with measuring and photographing while I was away. That, and I’ve been eating salad pretty much every day, and I figured people aren’t all that interested in salad recipes. I mean, I know people think that vegans just eat salad all day, but generally that isn’t true. Except that I just admitted that in my case it is…and yes, they’re usually kale.

However, now that BBQ season is upon us, I see a lot of people asking for salad recipes to take to these affairs, and particularly for recipes that will impress the vegan-skeptical. The answer for these occasions is usually potato salad. They’re delicious, there are infinite variations, and if they’re the only vegan option there at least they’ll fill you up. Win win win.

This is one of many potato salads in my repertoire, but one of my favourites in asparagus season, and is a powerhouse of flavour. Nobody is going to compare this salad to its non-vegan counterpart, because there isn’t one. It’s not ‘good for vegan’, it’s just good full stop.

Ingredients

6 large waxy potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 3cm chunks (you can peel them if you prefer). Sorry, I meant to weigh these, but I forgot. Basically, just a bit less than a single layer on an oven tray.

3 bunches asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut into thirds

1 large brown onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges

Olive oil and salt

For the dressing (makes extra)

6 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

Heaped 3/4 cup vegan parmesan 

Heaped 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

4 tbsp sour lemon juice, or to taste

Pepper to taste

Method

Ok, you have a choice to make first. I usually make this salad with baked potatoes, which is extra delicious. However, this is only a good idea if you are serving it within a few hours of making it, either warm or at room temperature, and won’t be putting it in the fridge. If you want to serve it later, then please boil the potatoes until fork tender rather than baking them. The rest of the method is the same.

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the potatoes onto a baking tray with a few teaspoons of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Toss well, and bake in the oven until soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside, around 35-45 minutes. Place the asparagus and onion on a separate tray and toss with some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake in the oven until nice and tender, around 15-20 minutes. Both the potatoes and asparagus will need to be turned halfway through cooking.

2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Gently heat the oil and garlic in a frying pan until the garlic is soft and aromatic, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the flame and pour into a bowl. Add the parmesan, lemon juice and pepper and mix well. It will go thick and creamy. Stir in the parsley.

3. Place everything in a bowl and add half the dressing. Toss well and add as much more dressing as you like . I usually add another 1/4 cup. Any leftover dressing can go over some barbecued veggies or in the fridge for another day. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with a little extra chopped parsley if desired.

 

 

Chipotle Kale Slaw

Really Good Chipotle Kale Slaw

I’m back in Aus and thoroughly enjoying my kitchen. Two months in Italy and rather than being stuffed with delicious food, I left 5kg lighter and starved for flavour and variety. Seriously, Italy is no fun for a gluten free vegan.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there is really good Italian food in Italy. Just not if you don’t eat meat or cheese. The vegan friendly options in restaurants are generally limited to bread, pizza without cheese and limited varieties of pasta. If you can’t eat gluten, the only options are basic lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad or grilled vegetables.  The entire country north of Naples seems to have an anti-garlic agenda (and I am a garlic FIEND), the eggplant was generally undercooked, unsalted and drowned in olive oil, and everything else was boiled within an inch of its life.

To be fair, I did eat some really delicious things in some high end vegan restaurants, and some really delicious bread based meals when desperation/starvation made me think the consequences were worth it. Reading non-vegan options on menus has given me some wonderful inspiration, because anything they can make I can make vegan, and the tomatoes from the market were really delicious. However, on the whole, I was overwhelmingly disappointed.

So, since returning home a few days ago, I have been eating everything I missed the most: kale, sweet potato, beetroot (that hasn’t been pre-boiled and vacuum packed: Why Italy, why?) avocados, green smoothies, tacos, phò, seaweed, cashews, gochujang, garlic and of course, chipotle chilli. Tonight, I made this ridiculously delicious and flavoursome kale salad, served it with southern style sweet potato mash and quinoa, and all is right with the world again. It’s totally bangin’.

I recommend this salad as a side or component of a meal rather than a meal on its own, but you can eat it however you like.

Ingredients

1 bunch Tuscan (dinosaur) kale, sliced into thin ribbons

2 medium carrots, grated

1/4 of a smallish red cabbage, very finely sliced

3 tbsp sunflower seeds

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 avocados, diced

Dressing

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours (or boiled 15 minutes)

3/4 to 1 cup water (depending on the power of your blender)

1 to 2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce with plenty of sauce on them (to your preferred heat level)

1 large clove garlic, peeled

salt to taste (around 1 tsp)

Juice of one sour lemon

Splash of apple cider vinegar

Method

1. Place all salad ingredients except for the avocado into a large bowl and mix well

2. Place all dressing ingredients into an upright blender and blend until smooth. Adjust salt and chilli as required and blend again if necessary

3. Mix the dressing into the salad until evenly coated. Gently toss in the avocado and serve. No need to massage, no need to let it sit. This is ready to eat immediately.

Mustard Kale Salad

Kale & Quinoa Leonardo Salad

Serves 6 as a side

This creamy, savoury, mustardy salad is inspired by a Caesar salad, if Caesar was as cool as Leonardo Da Vinci, which he clearly was not. I’d eat this over a Caesar salad any day of the week.

If you’re wary of raw kale, this is the salad to change your mind. This dressing is strong enough to mask any grassiness, but still allows the freshness and crunch to shine through. You don’t need to massage it for 10 minutes, only mix it up with your hands for around 30 seconds. Combined with the pop of perfectly cooked quinoa and the crunch of pepitas, it is my new favourite kale salad.

You can eat this on its own, but I prefer to serve this as a side. Last night we had it alongside a leek and fennel risotto with gremolata.  A handful of mint leaves finely diced and tossed through the salad also gives it another dimension, and can be added with your discretion depending on what you are serving it with. You don’t want too many competing flavours on the same plate.

Ingredients

1 large bunch curly kale, washed, dried and cut chiffonade

1 cup mixed quinoa (or 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup red)

1/2 cup pepitas

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Handful of fresh mint, cut chiffonade, when appropriate (see above)

Dressing (measurements in US cups and spoons)

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours

1 to 1 1/2 cups water, as needed

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 heaped tsp dijon mustard

1 1/2 tbsp salt preserved capers, very thoroughly rinsed

3 tbsp tart lemon juice

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 large clove garlic, peeled

Method

1. Wash the quinoa and place into a saucepan with 1 3/4 cups cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until the tails are released and the water is almost gone. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool

2. Place all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Start with 1 cup of the water, and add more if you need it. You want the dressing to be just slightly runnier than single pouring cream.

3. Place the kale into a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Wearing gloves, massage the dressing into the kale for around 30 second. Add the quinoa, lemon zest and pepitas and toss to combine. Season with pepper and salt to taste (you probably won’t need any salt though). Serve immediately or place in the fridge until ready to serve. Will keep a couple of days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Coleslaw

Refreshing Mexican Coleslaw

A veritable Mexican feast wouldn’t be complete without a fresh, crunchy slaw to balance out the rich and spicy courses. This salad is so simple, but tastes amazing. It’s one of my favourite slaws and I make it all the time.

Don’t feel like you can only serve it with Mexican food, this is an all the time salad that you can put in a sandwich, serve with grilled marinated tofu or eat on its own.

Ingredients

Approx 3 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage

Approx 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

1 large carrot, julienned

4 spring onions, julienned

1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

Zest of 1 lime

2tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste

3/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

Method

Throw everything into a large bowl and mix it up with your hands. Ideally let it sit at least 20 minutes before eating for optimum flavour mingling, but if you don’t have time, don’t worry about it.

 

 

 

 

Chickpea Salad

My Famous Chickpea Salad

Serves 6

My ‘famous’ chickpea salad, made famous by my sister serving it to all of her friends after I created it with a very hungry belly at her beach house, following a long swim in the hot sun this summer.

It’s now a regular on both of our menus, a perfect weeknight dinner or lunch, or just for anytime. Eat it on a plate or put it in a sandwich, this delicious, ugly salad is a big hit with anyone who tries it. It’s not fancy, but it’s darned tasty, and loaded with iron, protein, vitamin C and iodine, and a whole bunch of other good stuff too. It’s the nori that really makes it, so don’t leave it out.

It makes a lot but keeps very well, perfect for lunches throughout the week.

Ingredients

3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2-3 cups grated carrot

2 cobs corn

1 small green capsicum, finely diced

1 small red capsicum, finely diced

6 spring onions, finely sliced

2 sheets nori, finely chopped

4 tomatoes or a punnet of cherry tomatoes, diced

4-6 radishes, depending on size, finely sliced

Handful of fresh parsley, dill or both, finely chopped

Juice of one lemon, or to taste (some lemons have more juice than others)

Salt and pepper to taste

A handful per person of mesclun lettuce, to serve

For the dressing

1/2 cup plain soy milk or home made unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp garlic powder or 1 large peeled clove fresh garlic

1 tsp sugar (or sweetener of choice)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Place all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil into an upright blender. Blend until smooth, then turn the speed to low and slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the blender running. It will be thick and creamy like mayonnaise. Scrape the dressing into a bowl and place in the fridge to chill while you make the rest of the salad

2. Boil or steam the corn until cooked, and set aside to cool.

3. Place the chickpeas into a large bowl and mash roughly with a fork or potato masher. You want about 2/3 of them to be mashed, but not into a paste

4. Add the carrot, capsicum, radish, spring onion, nori and parsley to the bowl. Cut the kernels off the corn and add those too, along with the dressing. Mix very thoroughly. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and mix well again.

5. When you are ready to serve, place the lettuce on the bottom of the serving dish/es, and pile the chickpea mixture on top. Throw the tomatoes on top and garnish with some cracked pepper and salt, if desired.

tuna salad-3

Vegan ‘Tuna’ Salad

Total time: 20 minutes, plus 4 hours soaking

Special Equipment: Food processor with large bowl

I first made vegan ‘tuna’ salad to help Fabio with his transition to veganism, as tuna was one of his favourites. Now, I have never had real tuna, but I have a fair inkling that this doesn’t actually taste like the real thing. Never the less, Fabio is now tuna free, and this salad is a regular feature in our lunch boxes. It is darn tasty, full of good fats, protein and omega 3s, free from animal suffering, and as an extra bonus doesn’t stink like tuna. This is my current favourite sandwich filling and cracker topping.

I’ve seen quite a lot of vegan tuna recipes out there, using all manner of combinations of nuts, seeds, beans and chickpeas. I have kept my version raw optional, using sunflower seeds and walnuts. I say optional, because this recipe calls for regular non-raw vegan mayo because it’s way cheaper and tastes better. You can of course substitute raw mayo if you prefer.

This ‘tuna’ salad makes an excellent filling for a one handed sandwich on its own (I don’t know about you, but multitasking on my lunch break is a regular occurrence for me), but when I have two hands to eat with I often throw in some thinly sliced radish, grated carrot, lettuce and some extra mayo for a full sized meal, or skip the bread all together and have it as a salad. It’s also great rolled up in a lettuce leaf with sweet chilli sauce, or eaten out of the container with a spoon when I get home from work. This keeps well in the fridge for at least a week, not that it ever lasts that long at the rate we eat it.

Ingredients

1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked at least 4 hours

2 cups walnuts, soaked at least 4 hours

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil (or flaxseed oil if you want those extra omega 3s and don’t mind the taste)

1 handful each of fresh parsley and dill

2 sheets nori, thinly sliced

2 large sticks celery, roughly chopped

2 large scallions, sliced (optional)

1 small red capsicum, or a combination of red, yellow and green capsicum, roughly diced

1/2 cup fluffy, creamy vegan mayonnaise, or more if you feel like it :)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

1. Rinse and drain the sunflower seeds and walnuts. Try to remove as much of the moisture as possible. I put them in my salad spinner and pat dry with paper towel

2. Place the walnuts, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, dill and nori into the large bowl of your food processor. Process until you have a fine, thick paste (around 3 minutes in my food processor). You will need to scrape the sides down a few times throughout.

tuna salad-1

3. Add the celery and pulse until very finely chopped and evenly combined. Add the scallions and capsicum and pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed into the mixture.

tuna salad-2

4. Remove the blade from the food processor and pour in the mayonnaise. Mix well with a spatula and season to taste. Easy peasy!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.