Tweakable vegan salads ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

02 September 2008

Tweakable vegan salads

I like customized food, especially since I barely ever have the full ingredients for anything on hand at once. This calls for tweaking.

Quinoa salad with vinaigrette

red pepper
red onion
fresh parsley
olive oil
white wine vinegar
salt, pepper

Put on the quinoa before you do anything else. I used 1 cup of quinoa, which made some plentiful leftovers after two people ate. Rinse your quinoa in a fine mesh sieve, put it in a pot with 2x its volume of water, put the lid on the pot, and put it over medium heat to steam for 20 minutes. Or you can use the rice cooker. Whichever is fine. When it's done, fluff it up with a fork.

In the meantime, finely mince half a red pepper, a quarter of a red onion, and the leaves of as much parsley as you can possibly stand to chop. Half a bunch of parsley would be good.

Also make a vinaigrette. This one is going to be garlic vinaigrette, so peel and mince three or four cloves of garlic. This garlic is going to be raw, so be aware and use less if you're not that into raw garlic. Or if you happen to have roasted garlic lying around you could use that. Roasted garlic.

Ok! Anyway, put the garlic in a small bowl and add a big slug of olive oil and a little slug of white wine vinegar. Red wine vinegar will work too. The ratio of oil to vinegar should be about 6:1. Add a bunch of pepper and a couple pinches of salt, then mix it well with a fork. I ended up with maybe 1/4 cup dressing total.

When everything is done, toss the quinoa with the vegetables and dressing.

- For quinoa, use rice, millet, barley, bulgur, spelt, or whatever.
- For alternate protein, add cooked garbanzo or white beans, or any nuts that sound good.
- For red onion, use finely minced shallot or even more garlic.
- For red pepper, use other peppers, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, green beans, fresh peas, or any other raw vegetable.
- For parsley, use any other herb that sounds good with your ingredients.
- For dressing, use roasted garlic, use no garlic, use dijon mustard, use a totally different creamy dressing.

Grain salads: so awesome. I'm so going to make a not-actually-tabbouleh this week.

Eat with

Beet, asian pear and cashew salad

half a beet
an asian pear (or a regular one, or a decent apple)
a handful of cashews (or pecans or walnuts)
juice of 1/2 grapefruit (or lemon or orange)
safflower/other tasteless oil

First, toast your cashews over medium or medium-low heat. I used an 8-inch frying pan and just put in enough cashews to loosely cover its bottom. Watch the nuts and toss them around frequently. After about five minutes, they should be pretty and toasted. Take them off the heat and let them cool.

Trim and peel a beet, then shred half of it with whatever shredding device you see fit. I used the microplane; using a food processor would be faster, but it would also mean you have to wash the food processor afterward. I am satisfied with the microplane.

Core an asian pear. Cut it into thin slices, then mince as finely as you want. I wouldn't shred one of these; mine tried its best to dissolve into juice.

Now make dressing. We juiced half a red grapefruit, added a couple teaspoons of safflower oil, and mixed it up with a fork. You could totally use lemon or orange juice if you're lacking a grapefruit. You could even use just juice and no oil, and squeeze the fruit right over the salad.

Toss the cashews, beet, and pear into a reasonable salad bowl. Make sure the bowl is big enough to contain all the beet juice even with vigorous stirring. Add the dressing and mix it all up.

- For beet, use juicy carrots.
- For asian pear, use a regular pear or a decent apple, or consider fennel.
- For cashews, use pecans, walnuts, or almonds.
- For juice, use lemon or orange.

I find that this kind of dinner leaves me totally stuffed and unable to finish my plate. Fortunately, I am the queen of the leftover lunch. Tremble before me!

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