I'm away at camp so today's guest post comes from Shelley over at the Rosewater and Thyme blog. She and I became quick Twitter friends because of our shared love for healthy vegan food. You are going to love this summer salad she has for us today!!
First off, can I please tell you how thrilled I am to be invited to do a guest post for this site! What a joy and honor to be asked and participate for Christy, who has long been a guide in my journey to eating as healthy as I possibly could. Thank you!
Secondly, I am equally as excited that I was asked to post for Meatless Monday. I am one of those people that loves the Meatless Monday trend. I know there are people that think it doesn’t go far enough to get people to eat better. And, while this may be true, I am grateful knowing there is one day in a week that people are trying their very best to eat in a manner that is different than their routine. I have no doubt that it is a great stepping stone to more meatless, healthful days ahead for the countless people that are making a great effort.
I thought a lot about what recipe I wanted to share with you for this post. I really wanted something that, to me, said: SUMMER!
I have great childhood memories of summertime. Playing with my friends on the street from dawn to dusk. Taking care of neighbor’s homes while they were away for vacation, getting that little bit of spending money… which at the time was used for candy bars. If I weren’t at camp, I was on my bike. If I weren’t on my bike, I was reading under a huge Tulip Tree that was in my yard. And, most importantly, every single night, we ate on the outside patio.
Summer and simpler foods go hand in hand. The markets can hardly contain the produce within its doors; from corn on the cob, to stone fruits, from tomatoes to squash. Each item bursting with so much flavor, why would you think of drowning it in too much sauce or charring it to nothingness on the grill?
I eat more cleanly during the summer first, because it is hot and I don’t want to be in the kitchen that much, but mainly due to the fact that what is available doesn’t need that much attention. That’s why I decided to share with you a favorite salad recipe. I know, I know… don’t worry that “it’s just a salad.” I think for a hot summer night, sitting outside, maybe with a glass of wine, this is a wonderful family meal, that is not lacking in any flavor. But more importantly, I feel confident that this is a great dish for someone apprehensive about Meatless Monday to keep coming back and sticking to it, week after week.
This salad is a rainbow of colors and flavors. I have thinly sliced fennel, radish, cucumber, a variety of colorful carrots and vibrant yellow beets, tossed together with a light lemony mustard vinaigrette, served on a bed of arugula. For an added treat, but totally optional, I took a cashew cheese round, coated it in a bread crumb and gave a quick pan fry to crisp it up. The tang of the cheese mixes wonderfully with the earthiness of all the vegetables and make this a wonderful light family meal.
Believe it or not, Monday is a great day to entertain; you have had all weekend to plan, most everyone can attend since it is rarely taken by another activity, and you know it will be an early night because of work in the morning! With the dark setting in late into the evening and the warmth making it easy to entertain outside, use this as an opportunity to enjoy nature and the company of your friends and family. And, how fun to make the theme meatless and give people an opportunity to try something different!
I hope you find this salad a perfect accompaniment to a wonderful gathering!
1 fennel bulb
3-4 small carrots (variety of colors, optional)
1 Persian cucumber
3 small yellow beets
three big handfuls baby arugula
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 batch cashew cheese of choice: (this one is mine)
Preparation for salad:
Make the vinaigrette by mixing the mustard and lemon juice, this should make about 1/4 cup by volume. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Slowly add olive oil until it reaches about 3/4 cup and becomes emulsified. Set aside.
Slice, as thinly as possible, the fennel, radish, cucumber, and carrots. (I use my mandoline, but you don’t have to). Put in a medium size bowl and toss with about half of the vinaigrette letting them marinate and slightly soften while preparing rest of salad.
Thinly slice the beets and use them to line the serving dish for the salad. (This is presentational only. If you want to mix with the rest of the sliced vegetables, please feel free to). Toss the arugula in a bit of the salad dressing and place on top of the beets. Layer the marinating vegetables on top of the arugula and sprinkle with chives. The remaining dressing can be used on the table for those that need a bit more.
The salad can be served at this point and is wonderful!
If adding the cashew cheese:
Make a batch of cashew cheese, my recipe is linked above, but I think you can use any recipe you would like.
Prepare the dipping stations as explained in the above link. Cut or mold the cashew cheese into rounds. First lightly coat with the potato starch, then place in the thickened non-dairy milk, then coat in your breadcrumb of choice. I laid these all out on a sheet pan and stuck them in a fridge until I was ready to heat.
Using a pan of choice, heat a thin layer of oil. When oil is at a good temperature, place the coated cheese in the pan for a couple minutes on each side. The breadcrumbs should toast up and the cheese will get warm and soften. Remove from pan and let drain on some paper towels.
Place on top of salad and serve!
Shelley is the co-owner and baker for Ingredients, a vegan baked goods company, (on Twitter) and blogs at www.rosewaterandthyme.com. You can find her on Twitter there too!. In her down time she is riding her cruiser around town with her boyfriend or taking care of their two awesome animals!