When I make salad, my kitchen looks something like this: a cutting board covered with shreds of greens, smears of avocado, and carrot ends, so that you can’t quite tell what was prepared first; the cut-out crunchy stalk parts of lacinato kale strewn over the countertop and maybe the floor, because who even likes those in salad; carrot butts piled in the sink; a food processor filled with blended cashews and spices; bowls already overflowing with what the child in me still thinks looks like WAY too many leaves.
I didn’t really like salad until recently. I’ll be honest and say that I still have to do some self-convincing when I put it on my dinner plan for the week. I have no problem with vegetables, but I’d much rather have a rich veggie stew with greens stirred into it, or a heaping pile of roasted broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots than a bowlful of raw leaves and crunchy, uncooked carrots. But the nutritional profile of cooked greens and vegetables is different than raw, so Ryan and I have been working against our habits to try to balance our cooked food with more fresh food. A few of my tricks for enjoying salads are pretty similar to tips on lists of how to get children to like salad:
- Chop the leaves and other veggies small.
- Use really delicious dressing.
- Let them choose their own toppings (we do build-your-own-bowl when I make salad).
We’ve recently discovered that we really love salads made with a dense, creamy cashew butter-based dressing that isn’t so much drizzled as it is piled on and then mixed in so all of the ingredients are coated. In this rainbow salad, I used a cashew butter dressing flavored with chili powder and garlic. We enjoyed it the way it’s pictured, but if I hadn’t had my food processor occupied with making the cashew butter, I would have used it to shred the carrots so they’re smaller and softer instead of chopping them into matchsticks. I think I’d even have done the kale and cabbage smaller, too.
Another trick is the crispy edamame. Our go-to is usually crispy chickpeas, but we went with something a little different tonight. They’re like a healthier version of a crouton, and really flavorful. They also add a different type of crunch than raw vegetables–it’s more like the addictive type of crunch that keeps you reaching your hand into a bag of Goldfish crackers. You know what I mean, right?
This is all to say that this is a salad for people who aren’t so sure about salad some of the time. It is a really GOOD salad. The avocado lightens up the chickpea dressing and gives it a guacamole kind of flavor. The dressing itself is good enough to eat off of a spoon. And the whole thing is a dang rainbow.
A gorgeously colorful salad with a chili-garlic cashew dressing, avocado, and crispy edamame.
- 4 cups chopped kale (I used lacinato)
- 2 cups chopped red cabbage
- 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks or shredded (I used one orange, one yellow)
- 1 avocado, mashed and salted to taste
- 3/4 cup cashew butter or almond butter
- 1/4 cup water + more if necessary
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 ounces shelled edamame (most frozen packages are 12 oz.)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400F. Spread the edamame on a cookie tray and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the onion powder, sea salt, and black pepper over the edamame and toss again. Place in the oven for 20 minutes (no need to wait for the preheat to finish).
While the edamame is roasting, chop the vegetables for your salad base and make the dressing.
I prefer to use a food processor for the dressing, but you could use a bowl in a pinch. Just make sure the bowl is large enough to allow you to stir vigorously without making a mess. Combine all the ingredients except the water, and then add the water slowly. You may need to add extra water if the dressing seems too thick to easily mix throughout the salad. It's all about preference.
When the edamame is finished, assemble the bowls with the base on the bottom and a dollop of avocado, dressing, and sprinkling of edamame. Or just throw it together however you want!