Easiest Ever Never-the-Same Potluck Salad

I don’t remember where I got the original recipe for this salad, but I remember making a version of it way back in the seventies, using instant white rice (yes- that was the grain of choice back then), and frozen peas (about the only vegetable we used, too).

I’ve revived and updated it this summer and I now have a new old recipe that has become one of my favourites. It is so versatile and easy that you can probably make it right now- the only thing is that I never make it exactly the same way twice. So, I will give you the rough recipe and show you the version I made for the last barbecue/potluck I went to.

1. Start with 4-8 cups of any pre-cooked grain you like (this is great for quinoa, couscous, freekeh, anything. I used an ancient grain mix and leftover rice the last time I made this).

100_5106

2. Add in 2-6 cups of chopped veggies. Again- whatever you have on hand will work. For the last salad I chopped and cooked one red pepper and one onion. Then I added those to one package of “Japanese style” frozen veggies (edamame, black beans, barley and broccoli). This made a salad filled with lightly cooked veggies, but I have made it with raw veggies at other times and it is just as good. (Green onion is good, as are different bean mixes, use your imagination or just clean out your fridge).

100_5076  100_5096  100_5118

3. Mix up the dressing:
-1/3 cup light oil (I used canola)
-1/3 cup lime juice (or mix lemon and lime)
-1/8 to 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or another vinegar of choice)
-1 to 2 Tablespoons of worcestershire sauce (vegan is my choice)
-1 heaping Tablespoon of cumin
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
-1/2 teaspoon hot spice mix (I use Cowichan Bay seafood spice or a hot BBQ mix, but try your own favourite mix).
-a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

4. Blend the dressing up well. Taste and adjust spices to taste. Pour it over the salad. Stir.

100_5125

It tastes good right away but if you can hold yourself and your family back and let it sit in the fridge for a while, it will be even better. Sadly, it appears that we did not do this since I have no lovely staged pictures of the final salad in a pretty bowl. Just this picture from when I poured the dressing over and started mixing. I guess you’ll just have to make it yourself. You’ll see.

Advertisements

Summer Fun With Vegetarian Fast Food

100_5187

Summer is about barbecues and occasional food fests, so what is a vegan or vegetarian to do? Well, with so many new meat alternatives on the market, now we can join right in. I usually don’t buy processed meat alternatives so on my last shopping trip I was surprised to discover just how many new kinds there are out there. So many in fact, that I couldn’t decide.

I also discovered that stores now sell various new syles of buns. They tend to be the same whitebread junkfood that I so fondly remember from childhood, but sold in new formats (thinner ones, ones with pseudo “smart” grains hidden away, etc). I was irresistibly drawn to the tiny little ones- so-called slider buns, and mini hot dog buns.

The result- I bought the little elf buns, 2 kinds of veggie burgers, 2 kinds of veggie dogs, and added in my own homemade beet burgers and we had two days of “taste offs”. To taste my burgers, I cut them in quarters and ate them open-faced on the buns, while a half length of a hot dog fit nicely into the mini dog buns.

100_5193

With a side salad, fresh chili-lime sriracha corn, and garnishes, it was two days of summertime junkfood indulgence. The results were inconclusive (I’ll share the details below for what my family decided), but I did learn that there is no earthly excuse left for me to eat “real” processed meats. There are so many delicious options now that I can fill any wayward junkmeat craving that could ever arise.

100_5216

Burgers tested:
Yves “Veggie Burger Burgers”
Isadora’s “Go-Nuts Burger”, made with walnuts from nearby Saturna Island, BC.
My homemade veggie and beet pulp burger, made with pulp from my juicer.

Hot Dogs tested:
Yves Veggie Dogs
Field Roast Frankfurters

Results:
My daughter and I both liked the Yves burgers the best. They are also the cheapest for me to buy since a local store carries them and frequently puts them on sale. They are the most like real meat burgers in taste. My son and I also really liked the Go-Nuts burger, which was not much like a meat burger, but we thought it tasted pretty delicious. We liked the texture of the crunchewy nuts, but my daughter was put off by it. Bonus that it was local, but (likely because they are a small, newer company) it was the most expensive, even on sale. My son’s favourite was my homemade burger (yay me!). I also love its taste, but I cannot get past its deep red color. With white in it also from the chopped onions and oatmeal it just looks eerily like raw hamburger meat to me. No matter how much I tried to cook that color out, I still needed a blindfold to eat it.

My son was lukewarm about both of the hot dogs, but he has never been a hot dog lover, even when we ate meat. My daughter liked the Yves dog best. I am able to cook it so that it has a good texture and juiciness like real hot dogs (see my older post here for tips on cooking veggie burgers- I do hot dogs in a similar way), but to me it still didn’t quite have that real hot dog taste I remember. The Field Roast, however, was phenomenally close to a real frankfurter in taste. It was my favourite, although it was also phenomenally expensive, and extremely salty.

The final verdict: All of these had good and bad points to weigh out, and nutritionally nothing beats homemade, but it was a lot of fun and I could occasionally see doing something like this again. We laughed and chatted and learned new things about each other as we compared and tasted our way through all the different combos.

Just Wonderin’

The most shared headline, #1 on today’s NYDaily News online: Packaged Salad Mix Named as Source of Severe Stomach Virus. It seems that 21 people have been hospitalized over 11 states due to eating prepackaged salad contaminated with cyclospora virus. Cyclospora causes “traveller’s diarrhea” that can last up to 6 weeks and relapse later if untreated. As with any illness like this, it can be dangerous for the immunocompromised population (source), but generally it does not lead to serious complications.

Way down at #5 on the same list is the headline that 50,000 pounds of ground beef has been recalled due to E.coli bacteria. E.coli is known to kill 3-5 percent of people affected by it. Possible lifelong complications include blindness, kidney failure, or paralysis. Within the beef article it also notes that last month, 23,000 pounds of E.coli tainted beef was recalled, and within the salad article is a link to information that “Consumer Reports tested 257 samples of ground turkey from 21 states and found 90 percent were contaminated with germs such as E.coli and staph, as well as fecal bacteria” (link).

Which one do you think is the bigger story?