Hi! Remember me? I’ve missed you guys! A warm welcome to all the new subscribers. I’m getting multiple alerts a day & that warms my heart. I really want to build the community here like I built on tumblr, but I realize my blogging has been super inconsistent lately. I’m sorry to use the dreaded “B” word, but I really have been BUSY, but once I finish my Childrens Yoga Teacher Training, that’s it for me for a few months. I need a break. I’m putting myself in “time-out.” No more trainings, workshops, or professional development…for the rest of the year! Over the months I’ve received several books & products to review, it’s a fantastic blogger perk, but it also stresses me out a bit. I’ve seriously had NO TIME to read, review, test, cook. When I do a review I want to give it my full attention. I want to read the book & make multiple recipes so I can give an honest, thoughtful & thorough account. So, that means, when the calendar is full, reviews get put on the back burner until time allows. The book that has been on the top o’the pile since this summer is Terry Hope Romero’s “Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads That You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love.”
Ahhh, Terry! There is a reason why she & Isa are vegan royalty. Their collection of cookbooks have inspired many a vegan chef, blogger, author, homecook. The game-changing Veganomicon, which IMO single handedly paved the way to popular veganism, was published in 2007 – before the rise of bloggers turned authors – & quickly became everyone’s go-to “Vegan Bible.” It was my first vegan cookbook & one that I always recommend to newbies & flirts.
I had the opportunity to hang with Terry at the very first VidaVeganCon & she is a super rad chica! Anyone who refers to herself as a “Nerdista” is definitely cool-beans in my book. While I’ve loved she & Isa’s groundbreaking collaborations, I’ve also appreciated both of their solo careers. Terry’s Viva Vegan! Cookbook is one of my favorites (I even requested her Tres Leches Cake for my birthday one year), so I was super excited when she released Salad Samurai, & very, very curious. An entire cookbook devoted to salads? 100 different salad recipes? That takes some creativity right there! I had to see it to believe it. I eat a salad every day, & my salad game is pretty boring most of the time. I have maybe 5 salads in my regular rotations, & I wouldn’t call them “recipes.” It’s usually more of a “whatever I can toss in my tupperware in 5 minutes operation.” It was time to step it up, & this book has given me the opportunity. Take it from the back cover:
“In Salad Samurai, Terry is back to teach you the way of the veggie warrior, rescuing salads from their bland, boring reputation and “side” status with more than 100 vibrant, filling entrees. This is your guide to real salad bushido: a hearty base, a zesty dressing, & loads of seriously tasty toppings. Based on whole food ingredients & seasonal produce, these versatile meatless, dairy-free dishes are organized by season for a full year of memorable meals.”
I love this book already for a number of reasons. First – it’s divided by season. This is my favorite cookbook navigation style. As a CSA subscriber & a farmers’ market frequenter, books that cater to the seasons are my jam. It makes meal planning so much easier. Flip to the season, go to the market, get inspired. In addition to seasonally focused salads, the book boasts a delightful array of DYI dressings & salad toppings that will take your salad experience from meh to yeah in a snap! The salad recipes themselves are something genius ~ creative, unique, festive, & flavorful. There is even a chapter dedicated to “sweet & savory salads. Yum! I can’t wait to try:
- Deviled Kale Caesar Salad
- Asparagus Pad Thai Salad
- The BTK (Bacon.Kale.Tomato.) Salad
- Fresh Fig & Tempeh Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Hazelnut Shiitake Butternut Salad
- Gingery Beets & Lentils with Tahini & Agave Nectar
- Tempeh Taco Salad Bowl
- Coconut Carrot Cake Salad
- Overnight Oats with Mexican Chocolate Creme
There are so many winners & so many that I can’t wait to try when the season is right. But since it is fall, I dove right in to the middle of the book & decided on this beauty ~ “Mushroom, Barley, & Brussels Harvest Bowl.” When I think of “fall” foods my brain doesn’t typically point me in the direction of a run of the mill “salad.” I’m thinking more soups, stews, chilis, roasted veggies & quinoa bowls. I’m thinking warm, hearty, stick-to-your-bones kind of meals. Not a salad. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I opened up the fall chapter, but my perception of “salad” has officially been changed. The salads in this section are warm, rich, filling made with hearty grains, beans & starchy or cruciferous seasonal veggies.
My eye was instantly caught by the Harvest bowl for a few reasons. First, it was 90 degrees when I left work today. Yes, 90. Not a typo. This is typical. October likes to make us suffer through one more heatwave before Halloween. It makes me batty. I wore a sleeveless dress today. And sandals. When all I really want is to put on my boots & a sweater. I know you back-east-ers are rolling your eyes. Spoiled rotten Californians! I know, I know. Save it, you’re thinking. I’m sorry, but for reals. Just cool down already. Well, I couldn’t have picked a more perfect night to make this salad. The exceptionally hot day had me craving a light & crisp meal, yet I am jonesing for fall flavors. Can’t get any more fall-like than with a plate of brussels sprouts. Right? Or hearty mushrooms. This “salad” was one-part refreshing with the raw shredded sprouts, one-part hearty with the chewy pearled barley, one-part meaty with the tender braised mushrooms, & all parts delicious. Can a salad be both light & satisfying? Why yes, it most certainly can be! Not to mention quick & easy. I was able to make this even quicker & easier with a little shortcut from my pal Trader Joe & the 10 minute barley. Yep. You can cut back at least 30 minutes of prep-time with that simple adjustment!
- 1¼ cups vegetable broth or water
- ¼ tsp. salt (omit if using broth)
- ½ cup uncooked pearl barley
- 2 large portobello mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine or vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. tamari
- Big pinch of dried oregano
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded
- 4 scallions, green & white parts, chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
- Generous twist of freshly ground black pepper
- In a large saucepan, bring the water & salt to a rolling boil, stir in the barley & boil for 2 minutes. Turn down the heat to a low simmer, cover, & cook for 40 to 50 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Uncover, remove from heat, & fluff with a fork. Set aside to cook while preparing the rest of the salad.
- Brush the tops of the mushrooms with a damp cloth to remove any grit & discard the stems. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the mushrooms gill-side down, and sear for 2 minutes; flip & sear for 1 more minute, then flip over once more. Add the wine, tamari, & oregano & bring the liquid to a boil. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat, and braise the mushrooms until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn the heat off and cover to keep warm.
- While the mushrooms are braising, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add the Brussels sprouts and massage in the dressing for 2 minutes to tenderize. Add the scallions, cranberries, & walnuts. Stir in the warm barley.
- Slice the mushroom caps into ½-inch strips. Spoon the barley mixture into serving bowls, top with mushroom strips, & garnish with chives & a few twists of black pepper.
Like I said – this salad is super light, delicious & quick & easy to prepare. It’s warm where you are, a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc washes it down beautifully. I cannot wait to cook my way through all of the fall salads & beyond. I have so many recipes already “dog-eared” in this book & I already know it will quickly become a kitchen favorite. If you don’t have a copy yet, I encourage you to pick one up & enjoy.
I hope to back very soon. I’ve got post-it notes everywhere with recipe ideas & creations that are just waiting for me give give them focus. See you soon, I hope!