big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons (vegan, no added sugar)

Summer is made for salads. Big salads. Because cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies that are finally in season just beckon on hot, hazy days.

At least once a week I try to plan a salad for dinner and I wanted this one to capture the abundance that spills from the garden. As a main meal, I wanted it to feel “meaty,” so I diced up some sweet potatoes and roasted them in the oven and further “beefed” up the protein with herby walnut croutons. Since I had a package of farro on hand from my sister, I cooked up some of that too.

My veggies of choice for this salad are:

  • lettuce (your favorite kind, but I prefer delicate green leaf for this one)
  • spiralized zucchini
  • shredded carrots
  • tomatoes
  • snap peas
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • sweet potato

As a side note…did you know that you can eat the skin of a sweet potato? I always assumed I needed to peel it until I read otherwise in The Seven-Day Rescue Diet*. I love the added texture and vitamins plus another way of reducing kitchen waste!

For the ranch dressing, I slightly adapted my garlic herb dressing from my favorite BLT Salad. I may try a cashew version of this dressing down the road since cashews lend themselves so well so dairy-free creams, but tahini is more budget friendly so I went with it this time.

 

Ever since I had children, I’ve discovered that even though they are birthed from the same parents, they have completely different taste buds. Go figure. To avoid personally having to customize each salad (which would definitely exceed the limits of mental capacity) and to make veggie eating a (more) enjoyable experience for my brood, I plate the lettuce, but create a veggie buffet on the table for the fixings. That way, each person can select the toppings they like best and I never have soggy lettuce leftover that often is a downfall of pre-mixing a salad.

I would love to hear if you try this tip! And/or have you tried something like this with your family? How do you encourage your children to eat their greens?

 

  • Click here for my favorite food processor and the veggie spiralizer I use
  • Click here for the avocado oil.

 

Print
big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

Cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies capture the abundance that spills from the garden on hot, hazy days. Diced sweet potatoes, herbed walnut croutons and tangy ranch dressing round out this salad to make it a satisfying main meal or easily scale it back for a side.


Course: Main Course, Salad
Ingredients
For the salad
  • lettuce
  • zucchini, spiralized
  • carrots, shredded
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • corn
  • snap peas, chopped
  • cucumber, diced
  • farro (about 1/4 c. cooked/person)
  • sweet potaotes, diced
For the tahini ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tsp fresh chives
  • 2 1/2 tsp onion powder
For the herbed walnut croutons
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp avocado oil
  • dashes salt and pepper
Instructions
For the salad
  1. Place the diced sweet potatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper if desired) on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper in a 350 F oven for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through.

  2. Cook farro according to package directions.

  3. 3. Prepare veggies while the sweet potatoes are cooking.

For the tahini ranch dressing
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour into a glass jar. Can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

For the herbed walnut croutons
  1. Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir thoroughly until the nuts are well coated with the herbs (using your hands is helpful). Turn onto a metal baking sheet or pie tin and pop in the oven with the sweet potatoes. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. *Keep an eye on them as they go quickly from lightly toasted to burnt.*

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES: While I didn't include the portion sizes for the salad ingredients, here is a general guideline for adult portion sizes:

  • one generous handful of lettuce and one medium carrot per person
  • one small spiralized zucchini per 2-3 people
  • one medium sweet potato per 2 people
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of corn, cucumber, snap peas and farro per person
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes per person

I like using organic frozen corn and simply let it thaw since GMO free corn on the cob is hard to find (and it's easier!)

*affiliate link

simply saturday granola (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free option)

Ironically, this granola was much easier to test and make than trying to share it with you in this post. Because, technology. It’s a long story, which I’ll spare you, but I’m storing up these tidbits for blog-related tips to help you avoid the same pitfalls.

For now, granola.

When I changed my diet to one extremely low in added sugar, I thought granola was a thing of the past. Typically, granola has a high added sugar content; even vegan versions tend to use more than I’m comfortable with.

Coming up with a raw granola recipe I was pleased with was simple. However, I wasn’t sure if a cooked version using dates as the sweetener would yield that same crunchy texture of traditional granola. But, oh yes… it does!

As the title suggests, this granola is simple and straightforward to fix. While I often make mine on a Saturday, you certainly can prepare this any day of the week. The key to a good crunch is stirring during the baking time, breaking up the clusters, and completely cooling it before storing it in air-tight jars.

 

Click here for where to buy the date paste, stevia and unsweetened shredded coconut online. To try to find the ingredients locally, here are a few tips:

  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes)
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping.
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut: If you have a Whole Foods or natural foods store near by, check the bulk section!

 

Print
Simply Saturday Granola
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Ingredients
  • 3 cups whole rolled oats (gluten free, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup nuts of choice, chopped
Instructions
  1. Turn on oven to 350 F.  Grease a large jelly roll pan (recommend using coconut or avocado oil). Chop and measure out nuts. Measure out oats and coconut in separate bowls.

  2. Add almond milk, coconut oil, cinnamon, stevia and salt to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add date paste* and stir until the date paste breaks down and the mixture is very smooth. Next, stir in oats and coat thoroughly, then immediately stir in the coconut. Spread out on the prepared jelly roll pan, breaking up any clumps in the mixture and sprinkle on the nuts.

  3. Pop in the oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. When the time is up, remove from oven, stir to break up any clumps and prevent the granola on the out edges of the pan from burning. Return to oven for another 12 minutes, removed and stir again. If needed, return the granola to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the granola is a light golden brown color. Turn off head and leave granola to finish drying out.

  4. When the granola is completely cooled, pour into airtight glass jars for storage.

Recipe Notes
  • If you don't have pre-made date paste on hand, you can easily make your own. For this recipe, take about 3/4 cups of Medjool dates (buy the ones with the pits, but remove the pits just before using), soak them in warm water for at least 1-2 hours. Drain, reserving the soak water and place in a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth, adding a little soak water if needed.
  • Having the pan prepared, nuts chopped and oats and coconut measured and ready to go helps keep the baking time to a minimum as it prevents the date mixture from soaking into the oats.
  • Pecans are my favorite nuts of choice for this recipe!

 

 

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