Updated: Jul 10, 2019
By Anne Trominski:
If you’ve gotten this far along your plant-based food path, I’m sure you have realized that there are two primary ways to eat a whole bunch of veggies all at once: soup or salad. Soups and salads are a vegan’s bread and butter (urm . . . so to speak). You can make a big batch of yummy vegetable goodness all at once to enjoy a nice meal with plentiful leftovers. Plus, they go together so well that someone named a restaurant after them. Salads are especially enjoyable during the spring and summer months because the fresh veg and fruit are abundant, and nobody wants to eat soup when it’s hot out. (Uhg, and can we turn up the A/C already?!)
But what’s that you say? “No, not another salad!” Yeah, I get it. Especially, when eating out, it’s ridiculously easy to burn out on the typical “house” salad when you are trying to be healthy. Iceberg, hot house tomatoes, and those three slices of red onion can only get you so far before you want to chuck some stale croutons at your waitstaff. But just because every restaurant everywhere ever is presenting the same assortment of plant matter as a salad, that doesn’t mean you have to.
I’m sure you’re veg-savvy enough to know there is more to life than iceberg lettuce. It is infamously low in nutrients compared to its leafy cousins, though let’s not knock this go-to too much. It has a delightful crispness and high water content that makes it a worthy supporting player in any dish—just don’t give it a starring role. Toss it with spinach and/or kale and you’ve entered the land of superfoods! But don’t rely on just the leaves with the press agents. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, arugula is a flavor powerhouse. Some endive or a mesclun mix will also punch a salad out of the boring flavor scale so hard they should be rated R. (Last movie metaphor, I promise.) The bitterness can be a bit off-putting at first, but science has proven that the more you eat it, the more you come to like and crave it. (If you ever learned to drink IPAs or eat bleu cheese, you are familiar with this process.) Plus, more flavor sensations in your vegetable selection means a larger variety of nutrients entering you body.
Here’s another wild idea for a salad: leave out the leaves! Technically, a salad is just a low-temperature assemblage of foods that have been similarly flavored (that’s how you get a pile of cold potatoes and bacon covered in mayo past the salad police), so who says leaves are required? One of my favorite potluck dishes for warm-weather picnics is a salad that contains nary a leaf in sight. What it does have is protein, flavor, and a short ingredient list. I adapted this wonder salad from a health magazine version years ago. The original had steps like roasting whole ears of corn and blanching fresh edamame. I modified it so it would actually be a recipe I would be willing to make. My version takes me about 10 to 15 minutes to put together and is always a hit with audiences. (Like a good radio song. Not like a movie.)
Edamame, Corn, and Tomato Salad
1 bag frozen, shelled edamame
1 can of corn
1 package of baby tomatoes