“Oh, I’m not like the other girls. I actually hate wearing makeup and I think Starbucks is overrated. Also, I only have guy friends. Girls are just, like, too much drama.” *proceeds to roll my eyes so far towards the back of my head that I can view the car behind me or the tree in my backyard (I’m typing this while facing the front yard, by the way)* I feel like salad recipes scream this mantra out loud. Except, it goes like this: “I’m not like the other salads. Cherry tomatoes and iceberg lettuce are not my style and ‘dressing on the side’ can die in the 2010s. I’m actually gluten free and vegan-friendly so I get along with almost ANYBODY. I just can’t deal with any salad that wears a vinaigrette. It has the ugliest color I’ve ever seen.” Talk about a whole Mean Girls saga with food!
We can discuss the internalized misogyny and rigid gender norms this trope upholds and how we need to accept femininity back into our culture another day and another time. I know readers of this blog want to escape from the “political” atmosphere of our world when they surf the web (spoiler: you can’t), so for now, let’s just talk about salads and the B.S. we call detox diets. If you have not heard already, this is your PSA right now: DO NOT GIVE YOUR MONEY TO WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS THAT WILL GUARANTEE YOU QUICK RESULTS WITH A RESTRICTIVE DIET PROGRAM AND SUPPLEMENTS OR NON-SCIENCE BASED CLAIMS!
Anyhow. We can accept salads once again as long as we kick out the notion that all salads are for “detoxing” and New Year diet programs are just not great. Let’s not fall for fads and gimmicks for this decade, shall we? It kills my appetite when I see another meal plan that comes with a cookie cutter calorie number and a bundle of supplements. While you absolutely can utilize sustainable and realistic meals and habits for detoxing after a time of excessive consumption of unhealthy foods that don’t make you feel good combined with little to no exercise, I do not intend this salad to be a tool for detoxing. Just for enjoyment and for appreciation of vegetables!
For this bad boy, all you have to do is bulk it up, add some flavor, ensure some nutritional balance and color, and dig in! This combination of leafy greens, roasted vegetables with a good amount of heartiness (starches, fiber, and warmth), and the most heavenly vegan cilantro dressing that makes any salad look sublime and will taste like it was prepared by gods and goddesses. Seriously, to start this year off well without hating your diet, this is the salad for you! However, you can most certainly use any other kind of greens, vegetables, and add a protein or any other inclusion of your choice. You can transcend the sky with this one!
RECIPE (salad, serves 4-6)
- 4 pounds of salad greens of your choice: spring mix, spinach, kale, collard greens, mixed greens, etc.
- 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts
- 2 pounds of butternut squash
- 1 ear of corn, kernels shaved off (optional)
- Protein of choice: tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, mock meat, etc. (optional)
- 2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 2 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp black pepper
RECIPE (dressing, makes 12-16 ounces)
- 2-3 large bunches of cilantro, stems chopped off
- White stems of 1 bunch of green onions
- 3 medium or 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2-3 shallots (optional)
- 1 cup of sushi vinegar
- 1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Wash and dry the butternut squash cubes and Brussels sprouts.
- Chop the stems off the Brussels sprouts and slice in halves or quarters.
- Assemble the Brussels sprouts and butternut squash cubes in a large salad mixing bowl.
- Toss in the olive oil and salt and pepper, carefully covering all the vegetables in the oil and spices.
- Line a baking tray with foil, parchment paper, or a silpat sheet (Mandatory because the vegetables will broil and they will stick to the tray if there is no covering!).
- Distribute the vegetables evenly on the tray and season with a little extra salt and pepper to taste if desired.
- Roast at 375 for 15 minutes, then set to broil and leave for 5-8 minutes, or until the vegetables char and crisp to your liking.
- While the vegetables roast, using a strong food processor, add all the dressing ingredients and blend finely.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven when finished broiling.
- Place salad greens in a large mixing bowl.
- Integrate the vegetables thoroughly with the greens. Repeat with the dressing if desired.
- Serve with the vegetables warm.
Happy New Year!