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

Fig + Pear Salad with Cherry Balsamic Dressing


Oh my salad greens goodness! Each time I see this picture, I get hungry all over again.

Normally, I rotate between 3-4 salad recipes each month…ones with ingredients that are easier on the budget than pistachios and cherries. However, there are times and occasions where something special is called for…like Mother’s Day perhaps? Or maybe a lunch with a friend who is like a mother or a sister to you.

Perhaps it’s the pistachios that made me think of Mother’s Day. Because unless you buy shelled pistachios, you know it’s a labor of love to crack open enough for a meal. And word of advice? If you have lots of little (or big) hands around the house that would love to eat pistachios like candy, you might want to hide your shelled stash until the salad is ready to serve. Just sayin’. From experience.

Reducing the balsamic vinegar is key to making this salad without adding sugar. I love how it pairs with the buttery pistachios, sweet figs and lightly sweetened pears. The mix of greens is up to you, but I advise staying away from watercress. Unless you love watercress, of course. I thought I might after reading Trumpet of the Swan back in grade school. But after trying it, I’ve decided it’s not a good idea to make food choices based on the preferences of fictional swans.

You can receive the recipe for the full salad and cherry balsamic dressing (which has a secret ingredient), along with other exclusive recipes and updates, by signing up for my newsletter here:

Leng’s salad (vegan, gluten-free, peanut free option)

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As promised, here’s the post I promised which features one of my favorite sauces that pairs well with many dishes. Although the National Day of Peanut Butter may have passed, peanut butter lovers know that any day is a good day to enjoy this nutty legume. (For those with allergies and non-peanut butter lovers, you can sub in almond butter).

I call this recipe Leng’s Salad in honor of a woman our family got to know a couple of years ago. She and her family were refugees we had the privilege mentoring for a short time. While they’ve since moved away, every time I make this salad, I think of how much they enjoyed it at our home. Given that they’re Asian and this is an Asian inspired recipe, I wasn’t sure if it would fly or flop. But it was a hit. 🙂

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As with most salads, this is a mix-and-match, add-what-you-like-best free for all. When I want a super quick version, I’m even content with two of these ingredients – usually kale and cabbage. This usually is a crowd pleaser (unless you have a picky crowd or your “crowd” includes humans under the age of “skeptical about most vegetables), so be brave and try it out at your next potluck.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Leng’s Salad recipe

Leng’s Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients

    For the Salad

    • kale, destemmed, roughly chopped
    • red or green cabbage, roughly sliced or shredded
    • carrots,peeled into strips or shredded*
    • green onions, finely sliced
    • sunflower seeds

    Additional mix-in/combination options:

    • cauliflower, roughly chopped
    • sweet potato fries, diced*
    • rutabaga, diced
    • raw brussel sprouts, finely sliced or shredded
    • brown rice pasta*
    • red pepper, finely sliced

    621 Thai Dressing (makes 5-6 servings)

    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
    • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
    • 6 tablespoon coconut aminos
    • 5-8 tablespoon almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
    • 6 tablespoons peanut or almond butter

    Instructions

    For the Salad

    Chop all ingredients into bite-sized pieces. If using cabbage, slice thinly. Mix well.

    For the Dressing

    Add all ingredients to a jar and stir or shake until thoroughly mixed. Add more almond milk if needed or for desired consistency.

    Recipe Notes

    I didn’t list quantities with the salad ingredients because salads are so flexible. Just adjust your portions as needed. Generally, one full handful of combined ingredients = 1 side salad portion and two-three handfuls work for a main course salad portion.

    *Omit these options and sub in almond butter in the dressing for the strict portion of the candida diet and/or for a paleo-friendly salad

    I opted to create this dressing recipe using garlic and ginger powered because it’s quick and easy. Most days I would not have the patience to mince the garlic or ginger for the dressing. I recommend using organic powdered ginger or a brand that does not add sulfur.

    You might want to start with adding 5 T of your non-dairy milk to start and then add more until you get the desired pouring consistency. This dressing will thicken as it sits, so you may need to add a little more milk the next day. I’m not sure how another type of non-dairy milk will affect the taste or consistency.

    When I sub in almond butter, I usually use roasted almond butter, either chunky or smooth. Raw almond butter would work too, but it might affect the taste/consistency.

    The dressing keeps well for several days in the fridge. I often will make up a jar and then pour it over my salads all week.

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    oh-lay early spring salad

    2009-01-08 14.07.00It’s funny how much we talk about the weather, at least around these parts. Perhaps it’s because we’re all in it together, this waiting for spring to be spring.

    I check weather updates repeatedly as if somehow my multiple visits per day to our local weather station’s website will translate to warmer temperatures in the forecast. Even now my fingers are itching to check it once again. The calendar says it’s spring, but the temperatures seem reluctant to leave winter behind. I need to remind myself as I remind my children that it is the Lord who controls the weather and, thankfully, He is not bound by a calendar.

    spring inside
    lavender for our door :: wheatgrass courtesy of my youngest who bought it for my oldest :: a nod to another favorite past time

    At least I can bring spring inside our home and to our table. For our home, I’m switching out winter photographs, prints and decorations. (And if you’re looking for spring printables, here are a few free ones I found around the web: (Hello Spring by On Sutton Place; Hello Spring by Sandy Toes and Popsicles; Bicycles by Oh So Lovely blog)

    And for our table, I looking to grace it with recipes that incorporate springtime vegetables and my favorite minneola oranges which are only available for a short time in the stores where we live .

    early spring saladSo I was excited a few weeks back to have this recipe arrive in my inbox from Minimalist Baker.  I tried it out, but didn’t like the combination of the beans and quinoa with the lettuce, though I might have liked it better with kale (it’s a texture thing). So I made a few modifications to come up with the Oh-lay! Early Spring Salad featuring a pumpkin seed parmesan.

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Oh-lay Early Spring Salad recipe

    oh-lay early spring salad

    Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

    Cook Time: 1-2 minutes

    Serves: 4 people

    Ingredients

      For the Salad

      • Spring greens mix
      • Asparagus, roughly chopped
      • ½ – 1 cup minced cilantro
      • Oranges, diced
      • Avocado, diced
      • Pumpkin seed parmesan
      • Optional toppings:
      • Cucumber, diced
      • Roasted red pepper, sliced (organic is best)
      • Corn (organic is best)
      • Plantain chips, crumbled

      For the Pumpkin Seed Parmesan

      • ½ c. pumpkin seeds, raw or toasted
      • 3 tsp. nutritional yeast
      • 1 ½ tsp. olive oil
      • 1/8 tsp. salt
      • ¼ tsp. (heaping) cumin

      For the Orange-Lime Dressing

      • ¼ c. lime juice
      • 1 T orange juice concentrate + 1 T water
      • 3 T olive or avocado oil
      • ½ scoop 100% pure stevia
      • ½ tsp. cumin
      • ¼ tsp. chili powder
      • 1/8 tsp. salt
      • Dash pepper
      • 1 T cilantro, minced

      Instructions

      1. If toasting pumpkin seeds, place in a pot over high heat and toast until you hear the seeds begin to “pop”, about 1-2 minutes.

      2. Combine all pumpkin seed parmesan ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until roughly crumbled.

      3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well until emulsified.

      4. Prepare all salad ingredients, combine with dressing and parmesan and serve.

      Recipe Notes

      Use about one large handful of salad greens per person.

      If serving to a crowd, combine the greens, asparagus and cilantro in a large salad bowl, but serve the remaining toppings and dressing on the side for guests to add as desired. That way if you have leftovers, the greens will remain fresh.

      Pumpkin seed parmesan will keep for at least one week if refrigerated in a jar.

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