When I visit California, I sometimes wonder if people are really meant to live anywhere else. We left Seattle in the driving rain and arrived in California’s summertime. My mom’s tomato plants are taller than me, and I picked a ripe tomato. The girls gorged themselves in the raspberry and blackberry patches. We spent all day in in the back yard.
When it was time for lunch, it seemed only sensible to chop up a small mountain of garden and farmers market produce to make a DIY chopped salad bar. My parents (who eat very healthfully) always have a fridge full of the best fruits and vegetables of the season. My uncle recently started eating an exclusively plant-based diet, so we made our salad bar vegan. Today’s offerings included shredded lettuce and diced cabbage, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, and broccoli. You could vary these in infinite combinations, of course. We put out drained kidney beans, ground flaxseeds, nutritional yeast and walnuts for protein, and raisins for a bit of chew and sweetness.
I love this approach because it lets everyone customize a salad to their own taste. I bet my mom took all the veggies plus flax and nutritional yeast (and maybe a splash of vinegar); I left off the carrots, went heavy on the broccoli, and topped my bowl with walnuts, raisins, and balsamic vinaigrette.
My uncle took this photo of his salad to share with you all in exchange for some tips about embarking on a vegan lifestyle. What’s your best advice for him?Vegan Chopped Salad Bar: Shred or chop a sturdy lettuce like Romaine or one of its cousins. Chop raw vegetables of your choice into uniform dice: the sky’s the limit, really, just think about choosing flavors and textures that work together. Add drained cooked or canned beans, nuts, seeds and/or nutritional yeast for protein. Consider including a few fresh or dried fruits for sweetness and variety. We used J’s balsamic vinaigrette (usually 2/3 olive oil, 1/3 balsamic vinegar, a spoonful of dijon mustard, salt and pepper–but today we didn’t have dijon and that was fine too).
Put everything in its own bowl and let everyone assemble their own salads. Eat in the sunshine.