Vegan Salad of the week: Vegan Mediterranean “Chicken” Salad with vegan Caesar dressing

Okay, so I’m setting a goal again to eat a large salad for one meal a day as part of my health goals. This easily helps me get enough (or more than enough) servings of veggies daily, and keeps my caloric intake for trying to lose weight easier to manage.

I’ve been experimenting with healthy salad dressings and somewhere down the line someone clued me into this online list of oil free dressings: here. I’m going to experiment with salads based on some of these dressing recipes in the next couple of weeks.

At first when I started making salads, I would stick as many vegetables in it as I could but it took me about 45 minutes to chop everything myself, and was sometimes difficult to force myself to eat with full servings or more of cucumber slices, carrots, etc. It would take me an hour or longer to chew everything, as well, haha. So eventually I reduced the amount of vegetables and went for easier salads.

My favorite salad for the longest time was 2 cups of lettuce, 3-4 sliced sweet gherkin pickles, 4 sliced pickled beets chopped up even smaller, a baked boca “chicken” patty, 1/8 cup raw almonds, and this dressing. But eventually I ate that salad so many times that I’m probably not going to eat it any time soon!

So that’s what lead me to decide to try and invent a new salad every week! Here’s this week’s creation.

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First I made the Caesar dressing from Sexy Tofu, except I added 2 extra tbsp of nutritional yeast because I’m having difficulty meeting my b-12 intake without extra nooch. I try to add more whenever I can, and I don’t think it made it taste bad or anything, it’s still super delicious.

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I’m posing with the croutons while being photographed making the salad, haha

I was going to make my own croutons, but in my search for a good vegan bread to make them out of I got discouraged and also was hungry and planning to make the salad for my next meal, so I gave up and bought some Mediterranean herb flavored croutons that happen to be vegan. I got them from a local grocery store called East Side Market in Providence, it seems to have a good selection of kosher and middle eastern type foods, I think this is why they carry them and that they’re vegan too. They’re actually a product of Israel. They have a distinct taste, are a great, crunchy texture and the spices really give it that distinct kind of Mediterranean taste. I put 4 tbsp of the croutons (they’re very small making it possible to fit them in a tablespoon easily) in the salad.

Basically, the salad is:

2 cups chopped lettuce

2 tbsp of the caesar dressing

4 tbsp mini Mediterranean herbed croutons (if you can’t find this style of crouton, it’d be awesome to make your own croutons, and it’s really easy and delicious. All you do is take a half a loaf of bread of your choice–rye or pumpernickel or a mix works really well, or any bread that isn’t really soft–Cut it up into small chunks, stick in a plastic bag, drizzle some olive oil into the bag, shake to coat the bread with oil, add whatever herbs and spices you like, shake the bag of bread and oil again to coat, and stick in a 275 degree oven, checking every 15 mins until the croutons are completely crunchy!)

1 roasted red pepper chopped small

8 whole black olives

Fake chicken of some type. I bet beyond meat would be really good. I just use a baked boca chicken patty that I cut up small

1/2 tsp vegan parmesan (Okay, so you can make your own in various recipes found in cookbooks and online but I really doubt any of those will taste as parmesan-y as Galaxy Food’s Go Veggie Vegan alternative. I don’t know how they do it but it really does have that sharp parmesan flavor. It’s also a really fine texture which I believe would be difficult to duplicate on your own. But yeah, if you’ve found a good homemade version, let me know! Here’s what it looks like:

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make sure you see the yellow “vegan” text in the right hand corner, because I believe they do make other kinds that are dairy free but not vegan

So that’s my salad I’m eating for this week.

Stay tuned next week to see what new salad creation I come up with. It’ll probably get posted on Monday or Wednesday, but I’m not completely sure yet.

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Italian Chickpea Salad, tomato, and Daiya Provolone panini

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I was craving a chickpea salad sandwich but most of the recipes out there are all very similar–usually to make it taste sort of like a tuna sandwich–and I wanted something slightly different. So I had some vegan daiya provolone slices and tomatoes, and thought making an Italian flavored chickpea salad would be good. I decided to put it all in my panini press with some bread (duh). It came out really good, my only regret is that I didn’t put a slice of the provolone on both inside pieces of bread, because it would have helped the sandwich stick together better.

I made the chickpea salad in the food processor, and pulsed it to the point where it was the texture of a paté or thick hummus. I think it might be good if you process the sun dried tomatoes with the olive oil and spices and then add the chickpeas and roughly combine, especially if you want to eat it in a cold sandwich instead of a panini. Otherwise, just put everything in at once until combined.

Recipe:

For the Italian Chickpea Salad:

(Makes about four 1/4 cup servings, or one cup total when fully processed in the food processor)

Ingredients:

1-15 oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained of water

5 sun dried tomato halves (I used ones without oil)

2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 tbsp nutritional yeast (my favorite is Red Star brand)

2 tsp salt free Italian seasoning herb mix

1/2 tbsp dried minced onion

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper, ground

Instructions:

  1. If you want a smooth, thick, pasty salad, throw all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined and/or desired texture is met.
  2. Otherwise, process sun dried tomatoes, oil and other dry ingredients except chickpeas until fully combined.
  3. Add in chickpeas and pulse until roughly chopped.

For the panini:

2 slices vegan bread of choice (Italian or ciabatta would be nice–I just used the only bread I had- Trader Joe’s Texas Toast)

2 Daiya Provolone slices (I found them at my local grocery-Stop and Shop, in the organic refrigerated section! I believe Whole Foods sells them, other grocery stores may be more difficult to find…I believe someone near me requested a lot of vegan stuff at my grocery store and they were a huge success so they are stocking a lot of awesome things now!)

2 tomato slices, fairly thin

Italian Chickpea Salad, recipe above

Instructions:

  1. It sort of depends on what kind of panini press/maker you have. (Mine does not require any additional spray or oil so that’s why I don’t mention it, but if yours does, please follow the directions and be safe.)  Heat whatever you have until ready.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the fixings.
  3. Place a slice of the cheese on each piece of bread.
  4. Spread the Chickpea Salad on one side.
  5. Place tomato slices on the same side as the Chickpea Salad.
  6. Place the other slice on top, cheese facing down, and press in the panini until golden brown.
  7. Mangia!

Here are links to the companies whose products I used in this recipe and a little review:

Daiya Vegan Cheese

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I’d give the daiya Provolone slices a 4 good banana, 1 bad rating.

It melts perfectly as do all their cheese slices, but the flavor isn’t exactly spot on.

Red Star Nutritional Yeast 

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I give their nutritional yeast a 5 good banana rating! It’s the best tasting Nutritional Yeast (also known as “Nooch”)  I’ve tried, and I can be quite picky with it.

See you later in the week for a cool new post about health with some awesome illustrations, and another cooking post! Until then…