There is a vegan who hates traditional salads, and that vegan is me. Growing up with the Standard American Diet I knew salads as the tiny plate of packaged mixed greens that came before my meat-based dinner at restaurants. These token house salads always seemed to have a huge chunk of tomato, two slices of cuke, and three large sections of red onion on them. I would cover the veggies in Ranch dressing, move them around a little bit on the plate, and wait for my dinner.
Even earlier in my childhood a salad took the form of a bowl of iceberg lettuce, chopped and topped with strips of American cheese and whatever cold-cut lunch meat we had in the fridge.
As an adult who has worked with teens, I am now not surprised to hear them say things like “Salad? No way, I don’t eat healthy food.” Who would like to eat such things? Making an irresistible salad isn’t easy, even for vegans. Salad greens aren’t really that tasty on their own. That’s why we dress them. Salad toppings are usually far too large to eat in the same forkful as greens. We have to chew for what seems like forever. When I eat a salad I find myself hunting through the forest of bitter leafy greens for that stray piece of salad gold: avocado, beans, or corn.
If you’re like me and hate the typical salad, rejoice! I have the recipe for you. Make your salads with about equal parts beans, greens, and grains. The high proportion of beans and grains—those starchy bits of salad gold—make this dish delicious. Whatever greens you choose, prepare them by rinsing and chopping them roughly or running them through a few pulses of a food processor. Mix the greens in thoroughly to the salad. No more chewing for hours on a forkful of dry spinach! Dress only with the zest and juice of a lime (or other citrus fruit) and a crack of fresh pink Himalayan salt. The beans and grains, along with the water unlocked by chopping the greens help this dish stay moist and flavorful without the need for additional dressing.
Make your own delicious salad by mixing and matching any beans, greens, and grains in equal parts. Top with your personal favorite “salad gold,” like ripe cherry tomato halves, avocado, or toasted pumpkin seeds. See photos below for some salads that I love!
Photo: Chelsea Ihnacik