That said, I always feel a little sad when people tell me they tried to be vegetarian or vegan but didn't have any energy, only for me to find out that they were essentially eating only lettuce for a month. I would freak out (or pass out!) if I had only been eating lettuce for a month! No wonder so many people give up - I would have too. That is part of the reason that I wanted to add a food component to my blog, to show everyone how tasty, easy, and satisfying vegan food can be,
Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, paleo or omni, I'm pretty sure that variety in your diet is important. I love whole grains, sauces, legumes, rich desserts - i could never have gone vegan if i was just eating salad every day. In the beginning, One of the most exciting parts of going vegan for me was how it expanded my palate. Long story short, is that sometimes I have a tendency to get down on salads, especially because so many people assume that that's all vegans eat. But really, truly, no one loves a big, hearty, robust salad more than I do.
And the salad I'm going to share with you today is just perfect for the spring time-fresh seasonal ingredients, simple but thoughtful flavors, and artful creative presentation. It's definitely a detour from your classic Niçoise, as it contains no eggs, nor anchovies, but it honors the basic flavors and textures. What's most important is to use fresh, local and ,of course, organic produce.
For more information about the history of the Nicoise salad, just click here. Despite the arguments about what does and does not constitute a REAL Nicoise salad, I love that the historical emphasis of this salad has been on fresh seasonal produce. I like to think that this vegan version does just that!
Salade Niçoise pour vous
What you need
1 head of organic romaine lettuce
several handfuls of organic arugula
1 can of beans, drained rinsed- I used kidney, but garbanzo or capellini would be nice too. Alternately, you could use sprouted beans like lentils or garbanzos if you're looking to up your intake of raw foods.
About a dozen artichoke hearts, halved
I package of baked tofu, chopped into 1/2 cubes
a dozen or so cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 scallions aka green onions, chopped
2 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 handfuls green beans, trimmed or you could use asparagus if its fresh at your farmers market
Black olives to taste (you could use other olives if you prefer, or better yet, a melange)
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
1 Batch of simple Niçoise dressing, see below
Simple Niçoise dressing
3 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP whole grain mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 tsp thyme
1/2-1 tsp oregano or basil
Salt and pepper to taste
What you do
Go ahead and make the dressing first, combining all ingredients together and whisking or shaking to combine, then set aside.
Wash, dry, and tear your greens into bite-sized pieces. Set aside until you are ready to plate.
Next, bring a big pot of water to a boil on your stovetop tossing the potatoes in first, and boil for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put potatoes into a colander and run under cold water for a minute. Then toss your green beans into the boiling water and blanch them for about a minute. Remove from the boiling water and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. Drain, let dry and set aside.
Take your halved artichoke hearts and toss them into a non-stick grill pan over medium heat. If you don't use non-stick, coat the bottom of the pan with a little olive oil and proceed. Grill for about 5 minutes, turn the heat off and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over your hearts. Let them cool before adding them to your salad.
Prep all your other veggies -tomatoes, tofu, beans, scallions, parsley and olives-and have at the ready.
Here's the fun artsy part, you can make this salad family style, one big platter that everyone serves themselves off of, or you can do individual plates- totally up to you.
Arrange the greens on your plate and then begin to compose the other elements on top. I love to make little piles of each ingredient, alternating different colors and textures on the plate, so it is pleasing to the eye. Once you've created your masterpiece, drizzle with dressing and garnish with the fresh herbs and scallions.
Cest magnifique! All you need now is a little baguette perhaps and a lovely glass of wine or some Perrier to complete this easy French feast!
As always but especially today Bon Appetit and Namaste!