Monday, 9 February 2015

Vegan "Bacon," Kale, and Tomato Salad.

Hey guys.

So recently I've been on this let's-try-to-eat-more-vegan kick, and I have to say it's going pretty well. I tried this once before and was overcome by my withdrawal symptoms to lack of cheese. However, recently, I have made up new, less strict guidelines. I am not buying eggs or cheese or milk at home. But when I'm out, just the standard vegetarian diet applies. Another (large) exception is if I'm making birthday treats for friends (which I obviously help eat)-- those have been pretty dairy-packed.

My wonderful aunt bought be an Indigo gift card for my birthday and I decided to put it to use this weekend. I ended up purchasing a cookbook called "Salad Samurai" and I really, reaaaaally like it. So yesterday I hit up the grocery store and stocked up on some vegan basics: tempeh & cashews… and of course, liquid smoke.

If you're not familiar with liquid smoke, it is essentially a hickory smoke flavouring that is entirely vegetarian and when added to food, gives it a distinct smokey (BACON) flavour. Thus, it is a magical ingredient, as anything it touches turns to ethical & cruelty-free bacon, without all the animal fat that comes with it. I found it at a local grocery store, next to the barbecue sauce. If you can't find it there, it is available on amazon.

It took some time to decide which salad to make first, but the BKT (bacon kale tomato) looked like a good one to start with, and I switched it up a bit and made her cashew ranch dressing and smokey sriracha nuts. I made a few more changes to the recipes, making a couple substitutions for what I had on hand, so this is not the EXACT recipe from the book-- but pretty close.

The most difficult part of making this whole thing is just the trekking out for ingredients you may not have on hand, especially if you are a meat-eater. But I hope that you find it enticing enough to seek them out anyways. You will notice that several recipes go into this salad; dressing, nuts, tempeh, and then the salad assembly itself. Don't feel like it's a lot-- you can do several steps at once and the whole salad shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes.

"Back at the Ranch" Dressing
+ 1/2 cup unroasted cashews
+ 3/4 cup hot water
+ 1 tbsp olive oil
+ 1 clove garlic, peeled
+ 2 tsps soy sauce (originally calls for tamari)
+ 2 tsp dijon mustard
+ 1 tsp garlic powder
+ 1 tsp onion powder
+ 3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, tarragon, parsley, cilantro (I used dill & parsley)

1. Soak the cashews in the hot water for 30 minutes. Then pour them into a blender (including the water) and blend until very smooth.

2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Chill in a tightly covered container until ready to use, or at least 20 minutes for the flavours to blend.

Sriracha & Smoke Pecans (I used almonds, though!)
+ 1 1/2 cups raw nuts
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
+ 1 heaping tbsp sriracha
+ 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
+ 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. In a pan or casserole dish, combine nuts, syrup, sriracha and liquid smoke. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt

2. Roast nuts for 16-18 min, stirring occasionally until a sticky glaze forms. Remove from oven and immediately transfer the nuts to a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil and if necessary, use a fork to break them apart.

Tempeh Bacon Bites (I halved this recipe)
+ 8 ounces tempeh
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup
+ 2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
+ 1 tbsp ketchup
+ 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I just used olive)
+ 3/4 tsp liquid smoke
+ olive oil, for pan frying

1. Slice tempeh into small, bite-sized pieces.

2. In a baking dish, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the tempeh bits and toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, or cover and chill overnight.

3. Fry the tempeh over medium heat, ensuring they are in a single layer. Cook until browned on one side, and them flip them (I let mine get really dark). After it is browned on both sides, pour the leftover marinade over it and simmer until it is absorbed.

BKT Salad!
+ 1 bunch kale (any kind)
+ cherry tomatoes (desired amount)
+ about half a red onion, diced
+ "Back at the ranch" dressing (about half of the recipe)
+ Sriracha & smoke pecans (about half of the recipe)
+ Tempeh Bacon Bites (about half of the recipe)

1. Wash the kale and remove the hard stems with a knife. Chop the kale into ribbons and add to a bowl.

2. Add the tomatoes and onion and dressing. Toss with your hands to coat.

3. Serve with nuts and tempeh bacon bites scattered on top.