Being a lover of plant-forward meals, I’m always endlessly searching for that perfect salad main. I have a set of criteria that must be met in order for me to set aside the precious time to make it. We all know that leafy greens are good for us, and help with inflammation in our bodies, but a salad cannot rely on leafy greens alone. It’s got to be interesting, and well-balanced too, to make meal-time enjoyable and something to look forward to!
So, my criteria/guidelines for a great salad main is as follows:
- Leafy Greens
- Starch or carb
- Healthy Fats be it the dressing or ingredients
- Protein source
- Variety and well-paired flavor combinations
Vegetarian Salad For Dinner
With that said, when Robert from Melissa’s told us about a new book by Jeanne Kelley titled Vegetarian Salad For Dinner, I jumped at the chance to attend her presentation, and learn more. Jeanne Kelly is an award winning author of six cookbooks, and is has been a contributing editor at Bon Appetit magazine for twenty years.
Her newest book is all about vegetarian salads. Obviously we’re vegan here at DWP, but don’t fret! The vegan substitutions are a breeze with the vegan cheese and egg alternatives on the market today.
The book is divided into 8 sections, highlighting the different category of salads she explores, which are:
- Classic Salads
- Grain Salads
- Pulse Salads
- Salads with Seeds
- Pasta Salads
- Bread Salads
- Roasted & Toasted Salads
- and finally, Toppings, Sauces, Spreads
What To Make First
Thumbing through the book, with it’s beautiful photography, and scrumptious sounding salads, it was difficult to settle on what to make first! I adore that this book explores a plethora of different ingredients that you either may not be familiar with, or haven’t enjoyed in awhile. Variety is the spice of life after all, amirite? Plus, as we’ve learned in the Fiber Fueled book, a variety of plants consumed equals a healthy gut microbiome, which keeps our bodies healthy as a whole. Get ready to get shopping!
Because it was so difficult to decide, I went with the very first recipe out of the Classic Salads section – the Italian Chopped Salad, and I was delightfully surprised with the result!
This salad has it all, multiple leafy greens like romaine lettuce, red cabbage, parsley, and basil. The starches/carbs come in the form of chickpeas and lupini beans. A note on the lupini beans – they’re gaining popularity in the states, but you’ve got to really look for them in the grocery aisle. The ones I found do not come in a can, but a shelf-stable pouch (until opened of course). I had never had them before, and they add a delightful chewy texture to the salad.
The fats in this Italian Chopped Salad are green olives and olive oil. Besides the leafy greens, there are a ton of other vegetables in the salad. Another great feature of this salad is that you can dress it, and it will keep for a day or two in the fridge, making it great for meal prepping for the week.
Some curious ingredients besides the lupini beans include the jarred Calabrian chiles in Olive Oil -that are delightfully flavorful and SPICY! Finely chopping a whole lemon, rind and all, was something I wasn’t too sure about, but it provided small but mighty bursts of delightful brightness and balancing bitterness.
Buy The Book
This book is for the plant-based adventurer who delights in wanting to take care of their bodies. Every recipe contained within is intentionally crafted, with no fancy names, making it easy to deduce what to expect. She does not leave you with any hunger pangs afterward, as some salad recipes often do. You can find out more about Jeanne at Jeanne Kelley Kitchen, and can purchase her book through my affiliate link here: Vegetarian Salad for Dinner.
Italian Chopped Salad
- 1 Can Chickpeas 14-16 oz, drained and rinsed
- 4 Cups Romaine Lettuce chopped
- 1 Large Fennel Bulb trimmed and chopped, about 2 cups
- 2 Cups Red Cabbage chopped
- 1 Whole Yellow Bell Pepepr chopped
- 2 Whole Persian Cucumbers diced
- 1 1/2 Cups Cherry Tomato halved
- 2/3 Cups Green Olives Italian, chopped
- 1/2 Cup Red Onion chopped
- 1/2 Cup Lupini Beans peeled, ready to eat
- 1/2 Cup Italian Parlsey chopped
- 1/4 Cup Basil chopped
- 1 Whole Lemon small
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese coarsely grated, vegan substitute
- 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese coarsely grated, vegan substitute
- Black Pepper Freshly cracked to taste
- 1 Tablespoon Oregano fresh, leaves (optional)
For The Dressing
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
- 4 Whole Calabrian Chiles stemmed, minced, about 1 generous tablespoon
- 2 Cloves Garlic finely grated/pressed
- Combine the chickpeas, lettuce, fennel, cabbage, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, onions, beans, parsley, and basil in a large bowl. Trim the ends from the lemon and discard. Cut the lemon in half lengthwise. Thinly slice the lemon and remove the seeds. Chop the lemon slices in to small pieces, being careful not to lose the juice. Add the lemon pieces tot he bowl. (The salad can be prepared up to 6 ours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Whisk together the oil, vinegar, chiles, and garlic in a small bowl for the dressing. Add the dressing and cheeses to the salad, season generously with black pepper, and toss well. Divide the salad among dishes. Garnish with the oregano, if desired, and serve.