As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Portland in the 90s, I had a pretty limited exposure to fancy food. (Portland, Oregon was not such a fancy place back then, Portlandia aside). Dining out at Olive Garden was almost a special occasion. I don’t think I even had a single vegetarian friend, all through high school.
How I eat now is a world away from what I grew up eating, because of both my veganism and the sheer number of interesting food options available. I don’t eat any packaged food regularly beyond non-dairy milk, tofu, or pasta; my menu is planned around fresh organic produce; and both dining out and cooking at home are now much more sophisticated. Still, I have a soft spot for 90s retro dishes that seemed like such special treats when growing up. I love making my vegan penne alfredo (still the ultimate comfort food for me). Another favorite of mine was crispy chicken salad with poppy seed dressing. I updated this classic with crispy golden seitan, and swapped out poppy seeds for chia seeds, adding more Omega-3. With tender butter lettuce instead of iceberg or romaine, and sunflower seed butter instead of mayo, this is definitely a more contemporary version–but it’s just as comforting as the one you loved as a kid. 🙂
Crispy Seitan Salad with Chia Seed Dressing
Serves 2 for entree, 4 for appetizer
1 package seitan, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1 head small butter lettuce (about 5″ diameter; if larger, use only a portion of lettuce)
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/3 small red onion, chopped fine
1 ear fresh corn, shucked and cleaned
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Coarse salt to taste
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp sunflower seed butter
4 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp brown rice syrup
1 tsp chia seeds
1. Separate the lettuce leaves carefully, tearing them with your hand into smaller pieces. Rinse in a colander, pat dry with a paper towel, and leave balanced over a bowl to continue drying.
2. In a large bowl, combine corn, bell pepper, tomato, onion, and avocado. Add “good” salt (like coarse sea salt or pink Himalayan salt) to taste.
3. In a large, shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast. Rinse and drain the seitan, and pat dry with a paper towel. Toss the seitan in breadcrumb mixture to coat.
4. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. When oil seems to bubble a bit, add the seitan and fry, tossing occasionally, until the sides are golden brown and crispy (about 5-6 minutes).
5. In the meantime, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. To serve, toss the lettuce, vegetable mixture, and dressing in the large bowl; plate the salad, then add the seitan at the end to preserve crispness. Bon appetit!
Related: Detoxifying Nori Salad
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