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Yup, that's her! And her new book, Salad Samurai. I had the pleasure of testing out a good number of recipes from Salad Samurai, and they were all quite excellent! I chose to start with the Pepperoni Tempeh Pizza Salad, A. because pizza, and B. because there were a couple other recipes involved with this particular salad that I wanted to try...like the Pepperoni Tempeh Bites, and the Roasted Hemp Seed Parmesan. The salad is very savory and tangy. Lots of bold flavors. One could easily add fresh bell peppers, and sliced raw mushrooms to cut through a little of that zest if one wanted...which would be totally fine since, like a pizza, you can top this baby any way you like.
Also, about an hour after I made and devoured the salad, I came into the house from outside, and the aroma of fresh--out-of-the-oven pizza was in the air. Does Febreze make a pizza air freshener spray? They should. Nobody steal that! That's my idea! Moving on...The tempeh pepperoni is easy and delicious, and would be perfect on an actual pizza or in a stromboli or calzone...the thought of which makes my loins tingle. The hemp parmesan was equally as easy to make, and packed with tons of salty, nutty, toasty goodness and had a great texture. I will be making that one often for pizzas, pastas and salads...and to eat with a spoon.
As we know, not all salads are lettuce based. Some have no greens at all. And there are plenty of examples of this type of salad in Salad Samurai. I made the Herbed Pea Ricotta, Tomatoes and Basil and the Pesto Cauliflower and Potato Salad. These were both super easy to make, and very delicious... and my salad spinning arm got a rest. This salad is a fresh take on a caprese, and especially good in the summer with some big slices of heirloom tomatoes. The herbed pea ricotta is light and flavorful, and would be great on a crostini, or stuffed into big pasta shells, and topped with a light and simple almond milk bechamel.
I love grilled cauliflower...smoky and crisp-tender, it plays nicely with the bright basil pesto dressing and the potatoes. The recipe called for peas, but I had used them all up in the ricotta, so I subbed in some fresh corn right off the cob. Yeah, that worked. Summer is as summer does.
I also made her cashew-based, Back at the Ranch Dressing, and Coconut Bacony Bits. I put them in a B.L.A.T. Wrap, making a phenomenal lunch.
One of the many great things about this book is that there are chapters with just dressings, and just toppings, that you can use in countless other non-salad related situations. Ginger Beer Tofu, Maple Orange Tempeh Bites, and 5 Spice Tamari Almonds? They all sound like things I just want to eat by themselves...and I will. Oh yes. I also like that she presents more than a couple different preparations of tempeh. It's one of the best protein sources out there, but it scares a lot of people...especially newbies. Her tempeh recipes are easy and inventive, and I can't wait to try them all. The book is enjoyable to read, with lots of informational material before you even get to the recipes, and the photos by Vanessa K. Rees are unique and dramatic, playing with black and white in kind of a "yin and yang" manner, that makes the colorful salads jump right off the page. I'll come back to Salad Samurai as the seasons change, since the chapters are laid out seasonally. Although I don't know if I can wait until the fall to make the Coconut Samosa Potato Salad or until winter to have the Tempeh Rubenesque Salad...It's going to be a long summer.
That's right! Now your salivary glands are working overtime, and you've determined that you must have this book! Well, here's your chance to win your very own copy. In order to enter the drawing, simply make a comment below telling me the best OR worst salad you've ever had. You can only enter once, and you must have your entry in by Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 11:59pm. The winner will be chosen by way of random, computery selection, and announced on Friday, August 1, 2014. Be sure to sign up for my email list at the top of the page so you don't miss a thing! May The Force be with you.
And because I, somehow, couldn't find anything better to do with my time...
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Brian L. Patton is a vegan chef and author of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude, and The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home. Sharing tips, recipes, and interviews with prominent vegan chefs, authors, and foodie-type peoples.