Saturday, October 3, 2009

A salad that doesn't suck for vegans: Vegan MoFo #2

Edited to add: I just reread this entry and man oh man did I have a lot of grammatical errors. That's what you get when you blog at 3am...

I know there are vegans out there who
LOOOOOVE their salads. Some eat one at least once a day. Sorry guys, I'm not one of you. Quite frankly I detest salads. If I'm in a very veg-unfriendly restaurant I'm usually served a couple of leaves with tomatoes, onion, and store-bought dressing. I've been vegetarian for almost 2 years now (anniv on October 8, woohoo!) and in that span I've had a couple of really bad salads.

There must be wrong with chefs out there. For some reason they think that vegetarians would be perfectly happy with a salad that was unethusiastically put together. So, no actual edible vegetarian food on menus except for the boring salad. The sad thing is, salads can be lovely to look at and to eat -- no restauranteur wants to invest in them because they'd rather focus on the meat.

Don't get me wrong, there will be times when I would enjoy a salad as long as the salad is interesting. I love my salads with lots of color and lots of vegetables. I'm not a big fan of the leaves but of the concept of a hearty mixture of veggies.

I made this salad back in September but never got around to blog about it. But check out the picture. Now, wouldn't you want to consume it? I've never come across a salad that interesting in this country. If you have, do let me know, I'd want to check the restaurant out.

What a salad should have so it doesn't suck:
  1. Color. Even the salad greens shouldn't be all green. Check out the varieties with purple leaves. Raise your hand if you hate iceburg lettuce. Add reds with tomatoes, orange with carrots, yellow with peppers, purple with eggplant and Thai basil.
  2. Texture. An all leaf salad is just that, all leaves. Add crunch with bell pepers, carrots and jicama, tenderness with roasted eggplant, juiciness with tomatoes.
  3. Flavor. Leaves have a fresh taste, but you can add even more freshness with bell peppers. Any baked vegetable gives it smokiness too, such as roasted peppers or eggplant.
  4. Herbs. They aren't just for sauces or marinades. Herbs really play up the gourmet factor for cheaps. I added dill in mine, and the large bundle I bought from the grocery store that day was P6!!! I also like lots of parsley, basil, cilantro / wansoy, tarragon.
  5. A good vinaigrette. I get tired of vinegar + oil dressings with no thought given to their flavor. Add herbs to your dressing to make it more flavorful. I like thyme with lemon, cilantro with lime. I've tried dill with balsamic vinegar, not a bad combination. Play up the acid! There are so many vinegars out there that isnt' your regular red balsamic. I've tried white balsamic and it's fruitier and less acidic than the red. Kalamansi is great for tropic salads. Mix in some fruit in the dressing such as mango. Adding jam to your dressing also tones done the acidity. Try some ideas here and here.
  6. Wildcard ingredient. Make your salad definitely not boring with toasted nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit (I love apples, mango, and suha / pommelo in salads), beans (flavored with dressing).
If you're an omnivore / restauranteur and reading this, give your vegetarian friend / customer a break and make her a salad that doesn't suck.


Jeni Treehugger said...

I absolutely adore Salad but that's because I only ever make unsucky ones. This one looks fab!

mollyjade said...

Yes! Down with iceberg, tomato slice, and cucumber slice salads!

Susan said...

Ha! I need to print this out and distribute it globally to restaurants.

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

What great tips! And that salad looks amazing.

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