Greens, greens, glorious greens!
I love greens.
One of my pet peeves is going out to eat (which is usually not very exciting or enjoyable for me, since the quality and quantity of veg-friendly restaurants in these parts is wanting. I know, poor me), and ordering a salad only to get a few slices of tomatoes and carrots topped a bed of anemic looking iceberg lettuce, is a bit disheartening (especially when those few pieces of iceberg lettuce cost me $10).
When I tell people I’m vegan, a lot of people make some sort of comment, something to the effect of, “I could never eat that much salad.” What they’re really saying is that they could never be satisfied with what most restaurants try to pass off as a salad. First, let’s clarify. I don’t live on salads, or at least, what most people think of as salad.
What many Americans think of when we say “salad”:
A cup of iceberg lettuce (apparently that’s what we like??), tomatoes, carrots, and of course a LOAD of ranch or other calorie-rich dressing, croutons, bacon bits, cheese, olives, sunflower seeds (not bad, but usually roasted in oil, rather than raw)
I suppose the dressing and other calorie-bombs would make it more satisfying than just the iceberg lettuce and tomatoes/carrots alone, but still…not my idea (or anyone elses, that I know of anyway) of a satisfying meal.
MY version of a salad (which looks more like a meal, rather than a pathetic appetizer or side dish):
I start with at least 4 cups of hearty green greens. Spinach, romaine, green/red lettuce, mixed green spring mix (arugula, baby chard, ect.), sometimes iceberg lettuce (I don’t think it’s completely worthless, I do like the crunch it can add to dishes).
Then top with a combination of:
- Shredded carrots, cabbage (purple and/or green)
- Cauliflower or broccoli (chopped finely in a food processor–have I mentioned before I LOATHE raw broccoli unless it’s processed this way?)
- Sweet corn (I buy the frozen kind from Costco)
- Cucumber slices
- Kidney Beans (or any type of bean for that matter)
- Chopped celery
- Chopped green/red/yellow/orange bell peppers
- Diced jicama (yucca root)
- Green beans
- Lima beans (I get mine in the freezer section)
Then, to add even more substance, I might throw in 1/2 cup or so, depending on how hungry I am, of cooked grain (brown rice, quinoa, kamut/wheat berries).
For dressing, I usually keep it real simple (I mean, think of all the variety in the salad that has inherent flavor)–balsamic vinegar with some Mrs. Dash (no-salt herbal/spice seasoning). Lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and nutritional yeast (sprinkled on top), are other things I sometimes use. I don’t mind making salad dressings, but I’ve found I like the taste of the salad ingredients, and I want the taste of the veggies to dominate rather than the dressing itself.
Sometimes, I’ll sprinkle raw hemp nut seeds (omega-3’s), raw sunflower seeds (omega-6’s), sesame seeds, almond slices, or roasted soy nuts depending on the ingredients used in the salad.
And there you have it, a very satisfying salad, which actually is the meal. You can adjust the calories in the salad by adjusting the ratio of greens to starch (peas, corn, grain). If you want a more hearty, filling salad, just add more starch.
Here are some greens, freshly cut from MY garden (applause people, I am SO proud of this). These are the first crop I’ve cut and I had some with my salad last night for dinner. There is something extremely gratifying about eating food that you grew, on your land. Very nice feeling. I don’t actually know what kind of greens these are. I believe the seed packet read, mixed greens. It doesn’t matter though. They’re green, very nutritious, and tasty too. A side note though, a lot of people, if they aren’t used to eating greens find the taste of many greens to be bitter. Greens are a bit bitter, but your taste buds will adjust. And mixed with other veggies and a little dressing, I think they taste delicious.
Salads aren’t the only way to get your greens. I made collard wraps the other day and thought I’d share. I got the recipe idea from Anne Esselstyn.
I made my own hummus. Here’s my recipe.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
- 1 can garbanzo beans (reserve 1/4 cup liquid, but rinse beans)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic (or if you want to be a fancy pants, 1 clove raw garlic minced)
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 TBS. lemon juice
- 1 large roasted red pepper (I buy mine in a jar, you really think I have time to roast my own peppers??!)
- 2 TBS. dried parsley flakes (or fresh)
Place all ingredients including 1/4 cup bean liquid, except for the parsley, in the food processor with the S blade and process until fairly smooth but still a bit chunky (I liked it this way). Add parsley and pulse until mixed in thoroughly.
For the wraps, take a head of collard greens (thoroughly washed and cleaned) and separate the leaves. Trim the stems. Place all leaves (stacked on top of each other is fine) in a large pot of boiling water and boil for 3 minutes (this takes away much of the bitter taste of the collard). Drain and dry the leaves. Lay one leaf flat, spread with hummus and layer with shredded zucchini (Ann had some different filling ideas, check it out here), red pepper slices, shredded carrot and shredded purple cabbage (I shred in my food processor and typically have shredded carrots and cabbage on hand to put in salads, wraps, ect. This saves time). Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the top and roll up (I brought the two sides together, with the filling in the middle, then rolled it like a burrito).