Saturday, September 06, 2014

MoFo: Salad Samurai: This Book Rules!!!

I will cut you, Veggies! 

By now, you have probably read lots of online hub-bub about Terry Hope Romero's latest cookbook called "Salad Samurai." I was interested in this book for two reasons: the first was that I already have all of Terry's other books and I generally trust and appreciate her recipes, but secondly, I was especially excited about this book because I need salad help. I can make a good green salad, but I felt that I needed some guidance about creating more hearty or innovative salads.

This book is absolutely amazing. The salads are complex but not overwhelming to make - and Terry's approach easily encourages leaving one part out or substituting something different. Even as a devout recipe follower, I've found that using this book has somehow made me feel more creative in the kitchen and that feels really great. The book has chapters for dressings, for salad toppings, for breakfast "salads," and then 4 chapters devoted to entree salads - one for each season of the year. I have already made So Many Recipes from this book and it is a true winner.

Since it is still summer time, I have been (obviously) focusing on the "Summer" chapter of the book. Here are some of the salads I've made in the last couple of weeks (seriously, I have been charging through these recipes!).
ps. we always eat well after dark, so sorry the pictures are all night-time pics.

Fiery Fruit & Quinoa Salad
Holy majoley. We loved this salad. Grilled nectarines are easy and amazing! This salad was full of flavors and components, but actually came together quite quickly. The combination of grilled corn, onions, and nectarines, with a chipotle dressing and toasted pumpkin seeds (that perfect little crunch!) was unfamiliar, but also super delicious. I think this would be a really great dish to bring to a potluck and blow everyone's mind, without actually working all that hard.

Plums Love Arugula Salad
This salad is totally creative - exactly the sort of thing I would never have come up with on my own. Plums, baby arugula, Ginger tofu, and 5-Spice almonds... all with a creamy tahini dressing. Neither of us is usually all that interested in fruit in our salad, but somehow I decided to make this anyway - and we both loved it! The way these recipes are constructed, you could easily leave out the tofu, or sub in something else, or leave off the almonds, and so on. It feels really easy and inviting to modify the recipes to suit your own tastes.

Pesto Cauliflower and Potato Salad
We had this salad for dinner all on its own, so I doubled the amount of roasted cauliflower called for. It made a huge batch of veggie-riffic pesto goodness. I find that the dressings in this book are 1) amazingly creative 2) super flavorful 3) suggested in generous doses. So, even with doubling the cauliflower from a half-pound to a whole pound, I didn't need to increase the dressing at all. Usually Mr. VE&T isn't such a big fan of pesto (I know, I know), but I told him in advance that I was planning on making a pesto salad for dinner -- and fortunately he really liked it. This salad was another one that seems great for bringing to a summertime potluck or cookout. Light, healthy, and full of green freshness from the basil.

Mexican Roasted Corn Salad
YES. This salad is soooo good. Roasted corn, fresh summer tomatoes, fresh herbs, a little kick, and a creamy lime dressing?? So GOOD. I only used half of the cashew-lime dressing, and then I had the rest left over to spruce up my lunches. This is a super great summer salad and I already want to make it again. 

The salads in this book are meant to be hearty, substantive and filling. This isn't a low-cal or low-fat salad book at all. But it is a super high-flavor, high-nutrition, high-creativity salad book. That said, Mr VE&T and I are pretty devoted calorie counters, so in almost every recipe here I've reduced or eliminated oil, reduced avocado, reduced or eliminated an added nuts option... There are lots of ways that you could easily reduce or bulk up the calories in these salads, to fit your nutritional needs.

Bacon Kale Tomato Bowl
At this point in this process, Mr. VE&T declared "I LOVE THIS BOOK," because I was turning out one stunning dinner after another, and this one tipped him over the edge. This salad was easy to make, nutritious, and we both absolutely loved it. I never thought the day would come when I could tell you that Mr VE&T loved a kale salad, but friends, that day has come and I am so happy about it. This salad is an instant classic and I will make it often. I skipped the optional coconut bacon bits, and used store-bought tempeh bacon, and the whole thing took less than 30 minutes to make. 

Tempeh Taco Salad Bowl
This gem of a recipe was hiding in the winter chapter, but I rooted it out and put it to work in summer. It's full of fresh tomatoes, so it seemed summery to me. It's supposed to go into a big tortilla bowl, which seems super fun and yummy - but I simplified by throwing the whole thing together in a regular ceramic bowl (inedible). The tempeh was rich and spicy - which balanced perfectly with the freshness of everything else. This recipe also introduced me to my new love, Terry's Marinated Onions. Ever since I made this salad, I have kept a big tupperware full of these bright pink onions in my fridge at all times. I am putting them on my lunches almost everyday! Also, you'll see the bowl in back already has the avocado ranch dressing on it - beautiful and delicious and creamy!

Pepperoni Tempeh Pizza Bowl
We've enjoyed or loved every single meal I've made from this book, but this was Mr. VE&T's favorite for sure. After just a few bites, he declared "We only eat this from now on." ha ha! In my cookbook I wrote "Total Hit" and drew a bunch of stars around it. This salad is absolute perfection. "It's even better than a pizza!" said Mr. VE&T. It's got awesome pepperoni-spiced tempeh bits, croutons, loads of spinach & arugula (I used lots more than the recipe called for), fresh basil... A new favorite in our house for sure.

I've also made the Backyard Buffalo Ranch Salad, and the totally-amazing East West Roasted Corn Salad ~ but somehow I seem to have deleted my pics of those two. No worries, though, as you can see, this book is full of imaginative, tasty, nutritious salads that are guaranteed to increase your salad vocabulary and your idea of what a salad can be. Highly recommended with no reservations at all!!


  1. Ha, ha, I need salad help, too. I really love Terry's recipes, too but thought this book wasn't for me. I think you convinced me otherwise.

  2. You've made so many things! I have been loving this book too, and you've inspired me to make even more. Or maybe I should just make the Pizza Bowl (and only that) again and again. "We only eat this from now on." ;)

  3. Anonymous7:02 AM

    I didn't think I needed salad help, was I ever wrong! You're thorough review has me sold on picking it up today:)

  4. I was having trouble getting excited about this book. You changed all that! Thanks. My honey has a firm "no fruit in salad" belief, a position I find unreasonable. If this book got Mr. VE&T to enjoy both pesto and kale, maybe it can do the same for my guy's no fruit stance.

  5. Yayyyy and yummm. Love the plums love arugula salad, that might be the only legitimate salad I've made from the book? But I was lazy about the almonds and now I regret it because yrs look so good!

  6. I was iffy about this book, but now you've got me wanting a copy. Yum!

  7. I keep seeing this book around and it looks so good! The flavours look so inventive and interesting, thanks for featuring a few of them!

  8. My bf's just asked me if I'd like this book for my birthday and after reading this post that's a definite yes. It all looks fantastic!

  9. I love this book too. I have one at my house and one at my boyfriend's place. I need to get better at making ahead all of the toppings. They are great to have around for packing fantastic lunches. Also Terry was just in Toronto demoing all kinds of salads and it was fantastic. :)

  10. Those salads all look amazing Amey. I really want this book! A few months ago I made the Samosa Salad from Terry's blog and it was SO GOOD!!! But then it was winter here in Australia and I forgot about salads. Now spring is well and truly here, I think it is time to place my order :)

  11. I want that book so much! Terry always has such great recipes.

  12. This is one(of many) books I really want to get thanks for the great review!!

  13. Anonymous11:24 AM

    I'm loving this book, too! You've convinced me to make a couple of the ones I've skipped over, though.

  14. i bought the book strait away and made a handful of the recipes! all have been awesome!

  15. Yay! I've been looking forward to this post. I've been going the same route with the nuts/oils in the dressings and add-ons and so far I haven't hit anything that's suffered from it.

    The last two-- the taco salad and the pepperoni tempeh-- have been the two favorites in my house so far. (This from a bunch of reformed tempeh haters.) The taco salad definitely seemed summery to me!

    Have you tried any of the grain salads yet? They're pretty much complete meals (especially if you up the veggies a little) and all the ones I've had have been good. The preserved lemons one especially! It's rare I think back longingly on a grain salad, but I want that again already...

    1. (Any grain salads other than the nectarine one. I can read, really!)

  16. I was in the fence about this book, but all the pictures really sold it to me so I could visualize the magic of this cookbook! Thanks for taking the time to put this all together, yum! I might already be a salad convert.

  17. I need pesto potato cauliflower salad! They all look delicious.


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