I would imagine that being a full-time, committed vegan is a little like being the brunette in ABBA. You want to eat well? You want a salad that isn’t just a pile of limp lettuce and a carrot stick? Well, sister (and/or brother), you’re just going to have to step up in those white platform boots, work twice as hard, and get it done yourself. It’s not fair, but it’s how the world works.
The good news is, we all know who ends up wiser, more talented, stronger, and better-fed in the end. You! And our girl Anni-Frid, of course.
Maybe you’re not even vegan. Maybe you just want this kind of thing up your sleeve because you’re a versatile cook, and that’s just how you roll. I’m not sure what’s worse: Being the unexpected vegan guest going to town on a plate of celery sticks, or being the host of the unexpected vegan guest who just sent somebody home with a belly full of Bloody Mary garnishes. Nobody wants that.
Vegan or not, what The People want, generally, is an array of colors, flavors, and textures. It’s never too much to ask for, regardless of dietary restrictions.
So, here, the savory and crunchy element is roasted spiced chickpeas. Any sort of seasoning will do, but I went for curry flavors from Raw Spice Bar’s garam masala mix. It smells like heaven, and a little goes a long way.
Creamy salad dressing is a rare sight around here — I’m not a huge ranch fan, but once in a while, a solid Caesar salad with homemade dressing can make a dinner all sorts of special. So, it’s a bit of a luxurious touch in my mind, and you don’t often see creamy vegan dressings. Here, coconut cream — silky, dreamy coconut cream — does the job. It’s backed up with a hefty savory punch: miso, ginger, shallot, and garlic are all up in there.
Add a big fistful of greens (I’m mad for mizuna these days, but any kind will do), mango slices, and avocado chunks, and baby, you got yourself a killer vegan salad. The carrot ribbons sure are foxy-looking, but they are a bit of a pain to eat, so just shred your carrots unless you suffer unwieldy produce for pretty food pictures like I do. Do as I say, or do as I do. As long as you’re doing, ya know?
I should note that just because this dreamboat salad is vegan doesn’t mean it’s light, exactly. Coconut cream is full of fat, as is avocado, and chickpeas are pretty calorie-dense.
I should also note that a thing having fat and calories does not make it a bad thing by default. Health and food are personal, and pretty much everybody’s got their preferences and priorities in a big cardboard box in the attic labeled “Food and Other Confusing Stuff.” We’re supposed to sort it out later when somebody tells us once and for all if cholesterol is bad and coffee is good.
My philosophy right now is essentially eating real food, with a lot of plants and less animals. The salt, sugar, and whiskey will sort themselves out later, I assume.
So, this kind of thing fits right in. I’m sure there’s room for a giant bowl of plant-based sexiness in your life, too.
(Note: I received samples of Raw Spice Bar’s spice blends courtesy of the folks behind Raw Spice Bar. As always, opinions and thoughts my own!)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut cream
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon miso (red used here, but any kind will work great)
- 1 tablespoon honey (or another sweetener, if you are a non-honey-using vegan)
- 2 teaspoons minced shallot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (or more, to taste) of your favorite curry powder or seasoning mix (I used about half a packet of Raw Spice Bar's garam masala blend)
- Two big handfuls mizuna greens (washed/dried/coarsely chopped)
- 2 large carrots
- 1 cup roasted spicy chickpeas
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 an avocado, cubed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine chickpeas, olive oil, and curry powder or other seasoning on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toss to coat well.
- Roast chickpeas for 30-40 minutes until crunchy. Remove from oven and let cool.
- To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired.
- To assemble salad, make carrot ribbons by using a vegetable peeler to slice wide ribbons (alternatively, just shred them).
- Divide mizuna between two big plates, and top with carrot ribbons, roasted chickpeas, mango, and avocado. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Serves 2 generously as a main course.