The Most Exhausting Salad in Existence

I’m literally in my bed right now, exhausted, from a combination of a food coma and hours spent toiling to make this salad.

As always, WORTH IT.

This salad is entitled: “Early Spring Salad with Tofu Chèvre and Herb Vinaigrette.”  It is the best I’ve eaten in a while, but extremely labor and time-intensive.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Keep in mind that this recipe serves 4, so adjust accordingly.

First things first: You’ll need four hours to overnight in order to make the chèvre.

  • 1 (12 oz) container firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and halved
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp yellow shiro miso
  • 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt

Like the scramble, you’re trying to get all of the moisture out of the tofu.  Pat dry with paper towels, then plastic wrap both halves and put them on a small plate and refrigerate for at least four hours.

After it’s been refrigerated, you can blend it all together in a mixer with the garlic, miso, olive oil and salt. Place in a bowl.  It should look approximately like this:

And this is yellow miso, better known as shiro miso, which I’m assuming is one of those things found only at Whole Foods.  It has a super weird consistency but interesting taste.

Now here are the ingredients for the salad:

  • 4 medium beets, trimmed
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 10 lightly packed cups of mixed baby lettuce (buy it prepackaged)
  • 1 cucumber, cut into half-moons
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1/2 log of Tofu Chèvre

Place the beets in a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover them.  Simmer until they are tender, which should take about 30 minutes. Once they’re done peel off the beet skins and cut into 1/2 inch wedges.

While the beets are cooking, you can make the lovely herb vinaigrette.

  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Just blend it all together in a food processor! Easy peasy.

This is agave nectar which is my personal favorite sweetener and alternative to sugar.  I can’t even describe to you how good it is.  I would honestly just eat it plain, on a spoon, if that was socially acceptable (who am I kidding? I do it anyway)

Here’s the vinaigrette (tastes better than it looks, promise):

So by now you should have the tofu ready to go, peeled and chopped beets, and the vinaigrette.  Next you peel the carrots into ribbons, which just means pulling the peeler down the length of the carrot to create carrot ribbons.  Cut the cucumber into half-moons, slice the radishes, and dice the celery.

Place the baby lettuce in a large bowl, and toss in the carrot, cucumber, radishes, and celery.  Let each person add their own chèvre and vinaigrette. Voila! You should have a complete salad now. Enjoy!

 

The Notorious Tofu Scramble

This is probably the best vegan dish I can make to date.  Like, I would have it for breakfast every day if I could.  Besides tasting awesome and being super easy to prepare and clean up, it’s a great recipe for people who aren’t vegan and want to ease into it, or even people who are staunchly not vegan.  What’s amazing to me about this tofu scramble is that it tastes just as good, if not better, than scrambled eggs.  It has a rich flavor and lots of room for variety if you want to try adding other crazy ingredients.

I used the same cookbook that I did for the grilled cheese, one by Ann Gentry, who is definitely worth checking out: http://www.realfood.com/about/ann-gentry-founder.  She is the founder of Real Food Daily and has multiple restaurants and cookbooks and interesting perspectives on the culture of food. Her cookbook has the most flavorful, somewhat offbeat, and delicious recipes I’ve made in my vegan cooking endeavors thus far.  The only sacrifices you may have to make are with time (who knew that tofu needs multiple hours to be drained?) and obtaining pricey, somewhat obscure ingredients that you can only really find at a Whole Foods or other health food stores.

So worth it though, I promise.

Here goes!

  • 1 (14-oz) container of firm tofu (get FIRM, not extra-firm or silken.  you need the right texture, trust me)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Optional but highly recommended ingredients:

  • vegan sausage
  • nondairy cheddar-style cheese, grated
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked, drained and sliced

Drain the tofu and then wrap in paper towels and set aside on a plate for 10 minutes.  Rewrap with dry paper towels and gently squeeze out excess water. Coarsely break the tofu into about one-inch pieces, allowing for some pieces to crumble more than others, and set in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the water, 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, thyme, cumin, turmeric and white pepper to blend.  Add the tofu and toss just enough for it to absorb the seasonings.

By the way, this is nutritional yeast.  You can find it at Whole Foods in the section where there are lots of plastic baggies and weird flours and seeds and miscellaneous ingredients.  It gives the tofu scramble a cheesy flavor and bright yellow color.

Next, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  This is when I cooked the vegan sausage for about three minutes, which you are free to skip.  I think that it adds a really nice texture and spicy tang and actually tastes better than meat sausage!  This is the brand I used:

After that’s heated, again, the sausage should take about three minutes, add the tofu scramble and stir gently for about five minutes.  Then, either on low heat or no heat at all you can add the grated cheese and stir it around so it will melt right in.  I really recommend Daiya.  It really does melt and stretch!

Other super yummy ingredients that work well to put in here are the avocado, onion, and/or sun-dried tomatoes.

Here’s the final product!

Beware of the bright yellow stain this leaves behind.  Otherwise, enjoy!!!

Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A simple recipe and yet a good one.  Perfect for college students on a budget and with limited time/cooking skills.

Alright.  Gonna be honest and put this right out there. This was my first grilled cheese since going vegan (about seven months back now), so it wasn’t bad.  However, this sandwich may be a bit challenging for those of you non-vegans that are freaked out by the prospect of vegan “cheese.” (HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK???)

So.  Not that you really need a recipe for grilled cheese, but I loosely used Ann Gentry’s recipe in “Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone.”  It’s pretty much what you would expect. Here’s what you need:

  • whole wheat bread
  • vegan mayonnaise
  • cheddar, american, swiss, or monterey jack vegan cheese (you can use any combo)
  • vegan butter

First, butter both sides of the bread.  I recommend Earth Balance:

Then spread the mayo on the insides of the sandwich.  This is what vegan mayo looks like, in case y’all are wondering:

Aaaand then you put a couple slices of the scary vegan cheese between the bread to form the sandwich.  Obviously you can use real cheese if you want, but if you’re brave enough to try the vegan alternative, make sure the cheese you buy is casein-free.  Companies like to sneak in milk protein for some reason.  You can buy the cheese in slices or a block.  This is what I used:

After that, you put a few tablespoons of butter on a hot grill pan at medium heat.  Place the sandwich on the grill pan and cook for about 3 minutes, or until golden-brown.  Turn the sandwich over and repeat.  Make sure the cheese is fully melted.

Here’s what mine looked like:

Yum! You now have your animal-free sandwich, enjoy!