veganbowlsquare-45461.jpgSummer is around the corner and farmers’ markets are flourishing, and with so many fresh and colourful vegetables to choose from, for vegans, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. Not to mention berries, peaches, and cherries, oh my! In this article, I’ll offer some recipes to make the most of the season’s freshness.

Salads are a great way to enjoy the summer. You can prepare delicious side salads to go with any vegan BBQ. (In the first article of my vegan meals series, I discuss all the non-meat options you can put on the grill.) Or you can serve a hearty salad as a meal, by loading it up with lots of different proteins (just not meat, chicken, or fish) and other ingredients such as quinoa and rice.

Another great thing about farmers’ markets is the fresh herbs, and I love mint, basil, and dill! If you want to make your herbs last, check out this awesome kitchen gadget, the Herb Savor. I did a review of it a few months ago and it really works better than all the how-tos on Pinterest. Back to herbs, they offer great flavoring in salads or even in the homemade salad dressings. Fresh herbs take it to the next level. Personally, I find it a cheap way to seem fancy, non?

Your salad doesn’t have to be filled with just lettuce or kale, though there is no problem with that. However, summer is the time to take advantage of all the fresh veggies available. Let’s take this Summer Blast Salad from The Garden Grazer. It calls for cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, corn, and fresh cilantro. Of course, you can use other herbs like parsley or basil. If you want an extra kick, add red or green onions.

 

Ingredients:  

8 oz. cherry tomatoes
1 hothouse cucumber
1 avocado
1 large ear of corn
Handful fresh cilantro (or basil, dill, parsley, etc.)
Optional: red or green onion

{For the dressing}
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
1/8 tsp. salt, or more to taste
Optional: minced garlic

Directions

Boil or steam the corn. (I steam mine in a steamer basket for 5 minutes.) When cooked, carefully cut kernels off the cob.
Dice cucumber and avocado, and halve tomatoes. Add to a bowl with the corn.
Roughly chop your herb of choice (I used cilantro) and add to bowl.
In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad.
Lightly toss to combine.

 

 

 

 

Black Rice

blackrice.jpg

I don’t know about you, I can feel satisfied after eating a big salad. But I do need a little bit of carbs to feel full. I’m grooving to this recipe by Vegangela: Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts. You may not have heard of black rice, since its brown and white siblings get all the attention. Though I’ve never made it, I had it once with sushi and like the idea of mixing it with ripened mango. It’s also pretty healthy. A typical serving, which is one-quarter cup of uncooked black rice, will provide (Nutritional Season):

  • 60 calories
  • 5 g of fat
  • 34 g of carbohydrates
  • 2 g of dietary fibre
  • 1 g of sugar
  • 5 g of protein
  • No saturated fat
  • No cholesterol
Ingredients:  

  • 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon vegan fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup black rice
  • salt
  • 1 just-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into ½-inch dice
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion (about ¼ large onion)
  • ½ cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

 Remove peel and white pith from orange. Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes over bowl to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.

Add lime juice, oil, and vegan fish sauce (if using) to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend. Set dressing aside.

Bring rice and 1¼ cups + 2 tbsp water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing, and season lightly with salt; let cool.

Place mango and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Season lightly with salt and more lime juice, if desired.

 

I’m the queen of eating quinoa but it’s good to take a break from the routine. I think black rice is a fun alternative.

 

Protein

patties.jpgAs I mentioned in my vegan BBQ article, meat, poultry, and even fish are off the menu for vegans, so your best option is tofu. Other nutritionally rich proteins are tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, red beans, and most other legumes. Quinoa is also very high in protein. I recently learned about amaranth, an ancient pseudo-grain and seed that is similar to quinoa. Not only does one cup of amaranth offer 7 grams of protein, but it’s also a great source of iron, B vitamins, and magnesium.

I found this great recipe from Vegan Richa called Smoky Amaranth Black Bean Burgers. This is about combining amaranth grain and another source of protein, black beans into a delicious burger alternative. Now, I’m a big fan of a burger (with real meat), but this recipe has peaked my vegan curiosity. I know this isn’t a salad per se, but it is a protein dish to place on a colorful salad. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients: 1/4 cup dry amaranth

scant 3/4 cup water
a genenerous pinch of salt, thyme, smoked paprika
1 can black beans (15 oz ,about 1.5 cups cooked)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green chili pepper, finely chopped (use less or more or omit per spice preference. I liked the added heat from the fresh Serrano peppers)
1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, salt, smoked paprika, cumin powder, chipotle pepper powder, onion flakes, dried parsley
2+ Tbsp brown rice flour or bread crumbs or regular flour
2 tsps extra virgin olive oil (optional)

 

Directions

 Amaranth: Wash and drain 1/4 cup amaranth. (You can skip the washing and directly cook the grain too). Heat a deep pan at medium, add washed amaranth to the pan and toast for half a minute. Add water, salt, thyme, paprika, mix and cook on medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low once it starts to boil. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until the grains are tender. Stir once or twice towards the end to avoid sticking.

Patties: Chop up the red pepper and chili, In a bowl, add black beans, peppers, salt and spices. Add the cooked amaranth and oil and give everything a good mix. Mash a bit to mash the black beans. Taste for spice and salt. Now add the brown rice flour to the mixture to make it less sticky. Add less or more just enough to handle the mixture without it being a sticky mess. Use a cookie cutter and press a good dollop of the mix into and through it to shape the patties on parchment lined baking sheet. Even them out and brush a little oil on top.(optional). I used 2 inch cookie cutter as my buns were 2.5 inches. and got 6 patties.
Bake at pre-heated 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice up the topping veggies and greens and set up the plates and buns for assembly.  Layer lettuce/greens, a fat juicy tomato slice, hot patties, red onion slices, cilantro and bun.

 

Salad Dressing

After sifting through vegan salad dressing recipes, I’ve become more aware of how creative you can get with natural ingredients. I’m guilty of buying dressing only because I sometimes get lazy and just want something fast. But vegan dressing features some interesting combinations that I would never have thought to try. For instance, this Vegan Red Pepper Caesar Salad Dressing from Damy Health sounds intriguing, even for a non-vegan like me. The recipe calls for almond butter, which is a good source of protein and healthy fats.

blendtec.jpgTo make delicious, creamy, yet healthy dressing, it’ll be easier to use a high-powered blender, such as a Blendtec, only because full ingredients like nuts and vegetables can be difficult to mix together. Plus, washing a blender is so much easier. Tip: Rinse out any remaining ingredients, then pour in water and a little detergent/soap. Blend. Pour the soap substance onto the lid so that gets clean too. Voilà. Clean in less than sixty seconds.

 

Grilled Fruit

I only recently discovered that grilled pineapple is a popular and delicious dessert. The thought of doing this never crossed my mind. I know this article is about making a salad that serves as a meal. But have you ever tried grilling peaches? Damn, that’d be juicy good. Not going to lie but adding grilled peaches, mangos, or apples to a salad would be especially delicious. Alternatively, you just have it as a dessert. If only vegans can have ice cream because that would be an awesome combination.  I’m sure there is a vegan ice cream alternative out there. I won’t be finding a recipe on that. Sounds like too much work.

To my vegan friends, have a wonderful summer. Enjoy your salads and shopping at the farmers’ market. Hope you enjoyed this article. I would love hear which recipe you’ll be trying next? Or is there one you’d like to recommend to the community?

 

Leila Pejman is a producer and storyteller whose work encompasses content creation, media, social media, and communications, topped off with a passion for emerging technologies. On the domestic side, she’s on a mission to create the best quinoa muffin recipe.