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.
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
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
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.