Perfect Spinach Salad with “Creamy” Dressing

Vegan – Soy Free – Gluten Free – Paleo

Serves 8 as a side, 4 as a main

I would like to officially motion that making a tasty plant-based salad is an art. Maybe I am fussy but I die a little inside when I arrive somewhere and find that the only option I have is some iceberg salad with a few quartered tomatoes on top. And sometimes I find myself blankly staring at a pile of vegetables and I draw blanks too so it is completely understandable. Who would have thought something so seemingly simple could be so hard to perfect? This is why I have set myself a goal this summer – I am determined to master the art of scrumptious and simple salads! Considering it was 34C today I got to try this one out at a good old family BBQ… and it’s a goodie!

The dressing is a particular win for me! It literally took 5 minutes to make and could be stored ready for any other occasion. Once a massive fan of the Caesar Salad I still sometimes find myself craving a creamy dressing. This is the perfect alternative as the Dijon Mustard makes it feel rich without all the nasty side-effects that come with heavy dairy-based dressings.

Also wanted to shine the spotlight on my newest favorite things!!! At the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta the other day I bought some reusable produce bags from one of my fave company’s: Onya Bags. They are light, washable and come in a whole range of funky colours (in packs of 5 or 8) and you can buy them here. So if you can… make sure you wrap your baby spinach in these sustainable solutions rather than useless plastic produce bags.

Ingredients

Salad

  • Baby Spinach (enough to fill your platter… as this is the base you can judge how much you use)
  • Green Olives – I used about 20. (chilli and garlic went really well!)
  • 2 x Avocados, sliced
  • 1 x Cucumber, sliced
  • Sundried Tomatoes, cut into strips (as many as you want)
  • 50g x Pine Nuts, (I used more because I love ’em)

Creamy Dressing

This dressing will keep for up to a month if you leave out the herbs! I left out the herbs until just before I served with the salad.

  • 3 Tablespoon x Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon x White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon x Dijon Mustard
  • Some fresh herbs finely chopped (I used a small handful of basil)

Method

Arrange all your salady bits on a platter in a pretty way

Roast or dry fry your pine nuts. Set aside to cool slightly… those little buggers can get hot!

Mix all your dressing ingredients together and shake well. Pour over salad just before serving.

Aaaand… nom nom nom.

Terrific Grilled Tempeh (Plus A Great Asian Marinade!)

Vegan – Vegetarian – Low Carb

20 minutes prep (BUT – Prepared the day before), 20 minutes cooking
Serves approx 6 people (in a salad or stir-fry)

A Healthy Fresh Summer Salad

I get asked a lot what Tempeh is and the best (more appetising definition) that I can give is that it is Tofu’s healthier cousin. Now for the gross technical term. It is fermented whole soybeans which sounds disgusting but actually just means that it is full of probiotics as well as other nutritious goodies like manganese and copper. It is also a fantastic source of protein and fiber.

Did you know…? Soy products like tempeh have been shown to lower cholesterol levels (by approx. 30%) and lower LDL aka bad cholesterol levels by as much as 35-40%. All these reasons make it a great meat substitute.

Ingredients

  • 500g Tempeh
  • 1/3 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar (White Wine Vinegar is fine too)
  • 1/3 Cup Soy Sauce (Gluten-Free Option – Use Tamari)
  • 1/8 Cup Water
  • 1/8 Cup Five Spice powder
  • ¼ Cup olive oil (Option: extra virgin if possible)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Kecap Manis (Option: Backstrap molasses)
  • 3 x garlic cloves, minced
  • Ginger root (approx 10cm length), peeled and chopped
  • Ground pepper to taste
*Plus salad, vegetables or burger materials to serve

Method

  • Slice your tempeh into 1cm thick patties and score on both sides
  • Combine all the remaining ingredients into a container or dish to make the marinade
  • Put the slices of tempeh into the marinade, turn them over once of twice and make sure they are coated in marinade

Like healthy little sardines

  • Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours – at the very least 12 hours!
  • Heat up a grill / pan and place tempeh onto it

BBQ Tempeh – NOM.

  • Grill / fry each side for 10 minutes or until they are a dark golden brown

OMG – THAT SMELLS AMAZING!

  • Serve either on a simple salad, in a stirfry or as the ‘meat’ of a burger

Add greens, avocado and sweet chilli and you are in for a treat!

Serving Suggestions

  • Asian Fusion Salad (pictured) – Cut the grilled tempeh into squares and serve with a simple salad of lettuce, red capsicum, avocado, coriander and sweet chilli sauce for a light summer dinner.
  • Stir-Fry – Cut the uncooked tempeh into strips and stirfry in wok with some peanut oil. Add broccoli, snowpeas, bean shoots and bok choy with a splash of the marinade. Dress with chopped peanuts and coriander.
  • Burger – Leave the cooked tempeh in ‘steak shape’. Fill a wholemeal bun with lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber and avocado. Add tempeh and sweet chilli. Serve with homemade chips and salad for a heartier meal.
  • Let your imagination run away with you – so many options, so little time!

Notes

  • It is rare (in my experience at least) to find supermarkets that stock tempeh.  Your best bet will be gourmet deli’s (Fresh Provisions, Limes etc), organic and vegan friendly stores (Manna in Fremantle) or the ever faithful – Asian stores. It is either found in the fridge or freezer section. Lots of the organic delivery companies also have tempeh aca
  • Don’t just throw away the marinade at the end of the meal. Either use it as the oil for your cooking or marinade something else in it the next day. I have chunked up squares of hard tofu and cannot wait to get home and make a great stir-fry out of it. My husband also stole some for his dinners.
  • As with any soy products – make sure you buy non-GMO (not genetically modified)