Three Bean Salad

   This classic American Three Bean Salad is lighter than many of the recipes out there, but it’s the best one I’ve had.  Filling and tangy, with plenty of protein, this salad travels well.  The fresh, raw crunch of the celery and shallot are a great contrast with the silky beans.  Three Bean Salads have supposedly been around since the 1800’s, and possibly became so popular because they needed little refrigeration, and hence were often brought to picnics and outings.  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain off most of the marinade.


Makes about 8 to 10 servings?

15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed,  reserve 3 Tablespoons of bean liquid
15 oz. can green beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can yellow wax beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium-to-large stalk celery, diced fine
1 large shallot  chopped fine,  or 1/3 of a medium white onion
1/3 Cup white vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch cayenne  (a pinch = 1/16th teaspoon)

Take three Tablespoons of bean liquid from the can of kidney beans, and set aside.  In a large non-metal bowl and with a wooden spoon, gently mix the green beans, wax beans, celery and onion.  In a separate small bowl or glass, whisk together the bean liquid, vinegar, oil, sugar, and seasonings.  Add the rinsed-and-drained kidney beans and the vinegar dressing to the green-bean mixture.  Fold this salad gently with a wooden spoon to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.  Stir gently with wooden spoon before serving (we are trying not to mash the kidney beans).  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain most of the marinade off and back into the serving bowl.

Notes:  This would also be good in a salad-in-a-jar situation.  For more salad ideas, check out the Salad category on this site.

Ensalada de Aguacate – Avocado Salad

IMG_0348    I love to order Ensalada de Aguacate (otherwise known as Avocado Salad) at Mexican restaurants.  However, I always wish they were a bit richer in flavor, and less oily.  Keeping the simple, perfect ingredients, the main thing was to create a more-complex vinaigrette.  After a few attempts, here’s my latest obsession.

ENSALADA de AGUACATE   (Avocado Salad)

Makes enough for three or four side salads.

1 small head iceberg lettuce
2 Hass avocados, ripe but not mushy
1/4 red onion, diced
1 medium garlic clove, pressed,  or smashed and chopped finely
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon cooking sherry
1/4 teaspoon smooth stone-ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon scant fine sea salt  (if regular salt, use a bit less)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
(if tomatoes are in season and really good, they can be cut into chunks and added)

In a medium non-metal bowl, place garlic, oil, lime juice, sherry, mustard, cumin, sugar, salt and pepper.  Whisk until well blended.  Add diced onions to this vinaigrette, stir and set aside for the sugar and salt to further dissolve while you work.  The onion will do a quick “pickle” in the vinaigrette.

Wash, dry and chop enough lettuce into shreds.  Cover and protect shredded lettuce with a dish towel and set in fridge to prevent wilting.  When ready to serve, peel, pit and do a larger dice on the avocados, and immediately add them to the vinaigrette bowl (to prevent browning).  Using a wooden spoon, gently stir and fold the avocado cubes into the dressing/onion mixture.  As you stir, the dressing will become a bit creamier from the avocado.  Place a bed of shredded lettuce onto each plate and spoon the avocado and dressing over the center of each plate.  Let each person mix their own salad using their knife and fork.

Notes:  This classic and beautiful salad is popular in many Hispanic and Latin countries.  To stretch this salad a bit, add another avocado.


Cheesecake Factory Kale Salad with Vegan Low-Fat Buttermilk Black Pepper Dressing

IMG_2654    I’m obsessed with this Kale Salad with Vegan Buttermilk Black Pepper Dressing.  It’s a low-fat vegan copy of the Cheesecake Factory restaurant menu.  Finely shredded kale, sweet golden raisins, salty roasted Marcona almonds, and tart apple batons tossed in lemon juice, all drizzled with a cool Buttermilk dressing.  So damn good–even better than the original.  Thank you to Susan Voisin for her brilliant Hidden Cashew Ranch Dressing.  I found that adding one more Tablespoon of cashews to Susan’s dressing (bumping the cashews up to 1/3 Cup) made the dressing thicker and richer, without affecting fat and calories hardly at all.  Nutritional values below.

For each individual salad, use about 2 Tablespoons chopped Marcona almonds, 2 Tablespoons golden raisins, 50 grams small, unpeeled apple batons tossed in lemon juice, and 33 grams finely shredded kale.  Be sure to chiffonade your kale.  Any leftover acidulated apple batons will keep in the fridge for a day or two.  Notes:  I like using Penzey’s Buttermilk Ranch dry seasoning and in that case, you would use 1 Tablespoon of it and omit the other seasonings in the salad dressing.  Trader Joe’s has salted Marcona almonds that have been roasted with rosemary, but any will do.


Makes twelve  2-Tablespoon servings

1/3 Cup cashews, soaked at least four hours, or overnight
1.25 Cups organic unsweetened soy milk  (I like WestSoy)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt  (adjust to your taste)
1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley,  orfrozen parsley cubes, thawed and drained
1-2 teaspoons finely-snipped chives  (optional)

Drain and rinse cashews.  Place all ingredients except parsley and chives into blender and process on high until smooth.  Add parsley and/or chives and pulse just until incorporated.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Nutritional Values per 2 Tablespoons of dressing:  Calories 33,  Fat 2g,  Saturated Fat 0.3g,  Trans Fat 0,  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g,  Monounsaturated Fat 1g,  Cholesterol 0,  Sodium 128,  Potassium 32,  Carbs 1,  Fiber 1,  Sugars 0.3,  Protein 2g,  Vitamin A  0.7%,  Calcium 1.3%,  Iron 2.4%.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

IMG_2479    This Greek and Italian style Pasta Salad is simple to make, but deceptively complex in flavors.  It’s very versatile–you can make the basic salad and add or subtract whatever you like, or whatever you have on hand.  Perfect for a barbecue or picnic and especially good in summer.  With the beans, it’s great as a main dish too.   I make this at least once every summer, and it’s developed over the years.


Serves about 6 as a main dish, or about 8 as a side.  (?)

For the dressing:
1/4 Cup white Balsamic vinegar  (or red wine vinegar)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grainy mustard from a jar  (Dijon style, or spicy brown, etc.)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Basic Salad
2 Cups pasta cooked  (measure before cooking)
15 oz. can Cannelini beans  (or other white beans)
1 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/4 Cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
1/4 Cup Kalamata olives chopped
2 Tablespoons capers, chopped
1/2 Cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 Cup diced red onion  (I use Pickled Red Onions)
2-inch piece of preserved lemon, minced into oblivion  (optional)
(or just use the zest of a lemon)

Other possible additions:
cooked broccoli florets
fresh raw corn off the cob
raw cucumber, seeded and diced
chopped fresh parsley
chopped fresh spinach

Optional Garnishes:
1 avocado, diced
1 large garden tomato, cut up and salted
toasted pine nuts

Make dressing and pour into a large bowl.  Drain and rinse beans and set them aside.   As you chop ingredients, add them to the dressing so they start to marinate.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta and add to the dressing bowl.  With a wooden spoon, mix all bowl ingredients.  Fold the beans in gently.  If not serving right away, store in refrigerator.  Let salad come to room temperature before serving.  Garnish before serving, with fresh tomatoes, or avocado, toasted pine nuts, etc.

Notes:   Use smaller pastas, such as penne or fusilli, etc.  If you want to add broccoli florets (fresh or frozen), blanch them for two minutes in simmering water, and then rinse under cold water in a colander.  If you want to add fresh garden tomatoes, add just before serving (do not chill the tomatoes).  If using avocado, add just before serving (so it doesn’t turn brown).  Trader Joe’s has good artichoke hearts in a jar.  I make about a pint of Preserved Lemon once a year and then it’s on hand.

Catalina Salad Dressing

I needed some Catalina salad dressing for an upcoming recipe, so I made enough for salads too.  Oddly enough, even something as simple as a Catalina salad dressing by both Kraft and Wish-Bone companies are NOT vegan, nor are they even vegetarian.  This one takes 5 minutes to make, tastes better than store-bought and is cruelty-free!  I don’t know the history of Catalina salad dressing, I just know Americans love it and it’s got a sweet and tangy edge to it.
Vegan Catalina Salad Dressing

Makes about one Cup (notes for doubling recipe at bottom)

3 Tablespoons sugar (I’ll try agave syrup next time)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (ground mustard seed)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 Cup vinegar (use white wine vinegar or white balsamic)
1/3 Cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you could get away one Tablespoon)
grated onion or shallot, to taste  (maybe 1 or 2 Tablespoons)

Place all ingredients into blender and mix, or into a jar and use a caffe latte frother.
Store in refrigerator.
Shake before using.

Should keep at least a week.

Note:  If you want to double this, do so.  But, do not double the sugar and oil.  If doubling, I would try using 1/4 Cup sugar and 2 to 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil.  And I would try 1/3 Cup of vinegar and taste it to see if it needed more.  I used my Bonjour cafe latte frother to blend the dressing and it was still emulsified the next day.  Using a light-colored vinegar gives it a brighter color, which is desirable.  I like Alessi brand for an inexpensive white balsamic from the grocery store, but white wine vinegar would probably work well and give an even brighter color.

Vegan Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

This is a raw salad dressing from a Freshtopia video.   You can also watch this and other Freshtopia videos on itunes.  When I was at Whole Foods recently, I found a neatly wrapped and husked young coconut.  I do not own a machete, but having opened a few coconuts in my day, I knew that I should not stress.  I used a sturdy steak knife to cut away the initial parts.  Then I stuck the point of the knife into spots around the circle of the “lid” and tapped the butt end of the knife with a small, dainty hammer that I keep in my kitchen.  Once you have a little juice squirting out and have tapped slits all around in a circle, you will use your knife as a lever to gently pry open the lid.  The main thing to remember is that it’s persistence and not strength that is required, as shown on the video.   If you’ve never done this before, you might be surprised at how easily the tender white meat is removed from the inside with just a soup spoon.  I did use my Vitamix to blend this dressing, but am guessing a regular blender would work fine.  Yes, the whole shebang will take you 15-20 minutes to make, but then you’ve got a bunch of gorgeous, fresh salad dressing.  If you like bottled poppy seed dressing, then you will like this one.  I found this to be sublimely fresh and mild, not so strong and cloying like the bottled stuff.  You will have some leftover coconut water; drink it up or save it for your morning juice!
Vegan Poppy Seed Salad Dressing


1 Cup young coconut meat or 1 Cup soaked cashews, if coconut is not available.  I got only 3/4 Cup of coconut meat from my coconut and made the dressing anyway and it came out great!
½ Cup coconut water or ½ Cup filtered water
¼ Cup agave syrup
¼ Cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped white onion
1 Tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 dash of sea salt (1/16th teaspoon)
1 Tablespoon of poppy seeds

Set aside the poppy seeds, and blend all other ingredients until smooth and emulsified.
Add poppy seeds and give another pulse or two to mix, but do not pulverize the seeds.
Store any excess dressing in the fridge.

Caesar Salad

I’ve been making a version of this salad for many years.  Back in the 1990’s, we dropped the anchovy because neither of us really liked the fishy taste (or look) of it.  The raw egg was not appetizing either, let alone the salmonella risk.  So, it was just a matter of switching to vegan parmesan and vegan worcestershire; a snap.  This is adapted from my battered old copy of Joy of Cooking, circa 1975.  The main thing I learned from this cookbook was to steep the garlic in the oil, as you can see from this original excerpt below.

     1 clove garlic; peeled and sliced
     1/2 cup olive oil: none other
for 24 hours.

I spotted and highlighted the words “24 hours” and after making it and eating it in restaurants for years, realized that this is the key to a good Caesar salad dressing.  You know how when you roast garlic, it mellows out that overly-pungent bite?  Well, when you steep raw garlic in olive oil for at least 24 hours, it also mellows it out, not to the extent that roasting does, but it takes the sharp edge off it.  Then your croutons are drizzled and sauteed with a bit of this mellowed out garlic oil, which renders them delicious.  This is better than the many mediocre restaurant Caesar salads you and I have both had in our day.  And since when did mayonnaise become part of a Caesar salad?  The ones in restaurants have a mucous-looking white cast to the dressing which is not appealing!  Here is a clean, classic, beautiful salad.  If you do want it a tiny bit creamier, however, you can substitute prepared (from the jar) Dijon mustard instead of the dry ground mustard, with very good results.  One final note is that store-bought croutons are seriously elevated by this technique, but I don’t buy any that are “Caesar” flavor because they’ve usually got a lot of garlic in them, and then there is invariably a faint stale odor and/or flavor to them.  Garlic goes rancid pretty quickly.  Happily, accidentally-vegan croutons are getting easier to find.  And I love those triple packs of organic romaine hearts, too.  Another surprise was how much better vegan Worcestershire tastes over the one with (rotting) anchovies in it.  Finally, here’s a little cut-and-paste about olive oil:   If you want to buy the best olive oil, look for organic extra virgin oil that is labeled “cold pressed” or, even better, “first cold pressed.”  Cold pressed means that the oil was not heated over a certain temperature (usually 80 degrees Fahrenheit) during processing, thus retaining more nutrients and undergoing less degradation. First cold pressed, which is of even higher quality than cold pressed, means that the oil was made with the first pressing of the olives.
Vegan Classic Caesar Salad

Serves 4

1 head romaine lettuce, or 2 romaine hearts
1 to 2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed-and-chopped
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil (I like “first cold pressed”)
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard (or 1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard)
1/2 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire (such as The Wizard’s brand)
The juice from one fresh lemon, or 1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1 bag (4 to 5 oz.) store-bought vegan croutons (or homemade)
1 to 2 tablespoons of vegan parmesan (there are several brands)

One or two days ahead of time, press or crush garlic to a fine consistency (I like to use a garlic press I’ve had for 15 years).  It is critical for flavor to prepare the garlic oil at least 24 hours ahead.
In a small glass jar, mix pepper, salt, mustard, vegan Worcestershire, lemon juice and vinegar, and refrigerate.
Wash romaine and drain well.  Wrap in a clean, lint-free dish towel and refrigerate in the crisper/vegetable drawer.

To prepare and serve:
Place 1/2 of garlic oil and all croutons in a sauce pan on low heat.
Stir croutons occasionally.  Don’t allow croutons to brown too much, just get them hot and only slightly more golden, and then turn off the heat.
By the tablespoon, add some or all of the remaining garlic oil to the lemon juice mixture, and blend well.  I usually don’t add all of the remaining oil, but you can.  I like to use a latte frother for all salad dressings because it blends them so well that they hold together for a long time.
When ready, add a tablespoon or two of the vegan parmesan to the croutons and stir to coat.
Mix cheesy croutons and dressing with romaine, gently toss well and SERVE IMMEDIATELY.  The salad will wilt if you wait!

Note:  If you have leftover garlic oil, you can simply add more plain olive oil to it and extend it’s volume for other salads or recipes.  It’s good to flavor pasta sauce, or to use in seitan, hummus or anything else you can think of.

Anna Karenina’s Vegan Russian Salad Dressing

If Vronsky is coming to supper, you MUST have a delicious Russian Salad Dressing,  nyet?  In my case, I simply wanted to make vegan Ruben sandwiches with homemade rye bread, and you can’t do that without a fine Russian salad dressing.  So I dug out my old Joy of Cooking (circa 1975) and found a recipe for Russian Dressing or Russian Mayonnaise.    JOC’s recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of caviar or salmon roe; which is both gross and ecologically irresponsible.  But I zeroed in on the grated onion and knew that was a key element.  I’m guessing this dressing is easily doubled;  just consider the salt, pepper and cayenne if you do so.
Vegan Russian Salad Dressing

Makes enough for about four salads, or 6-8 sandwiches.

½ Cup Vegenaise vegan mayo
1/3 Cup catsup (or bottled chili sauce)
1 to 2 rounded Tablespoon(s) of finely minced or grated raw onion (I prefer white onion for this)
1/16th tsp cayenne (or 1/4 tsp)
1 Tablespoon sweet relish
1 Tablespoon chopped capers
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (remember that the capers are salty)
1/8 tsp pepper  (I prefer white pepper)
1/4 tsp vegan horseradish (such as Kelchner’s Brand)

Mix all and chill,  and prepare to fend off inappropriate advances from Vronsky.

Note: This is good on vegan Ruben sandwiches, and of course, on iceberg lettuce. Do not omit the onion. If you have fresh dill in the garden, you could very finely mince a half teaspoon of that and add it. This is my own recipe that I developed after looking in several  cookbooks.  The Joy of Cooking recipe also calls for the horseradish.  I’ve only found one vegan horseradish, a brand called Kelchner’s, made in Pennsylvania.  This can be tricky to find, but now I realize it is kept almost exclusively in the seafood department here.  On the main shelves, I could only find the creamed sauce horseradish blends.  Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook (circa 1961) calls for pimiento, chives and finely cut green pepper, all of which would be great too.  My recipe above is luscious as is, but I’m making these notes here so I’ll feel free to add things in future if I have them on hand.  You can use my recipe as a base and improvise!

Vegan Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing

Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing sounds like the antithesis of vegan, right?  Not anymore, now that we’ve discovered Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base from Penzeys Spices.  Despite its name, it’s totally vegan and made from all natural herbs and spices–it’s freaking genius.  And even though I veganized this  favorite American recipe, it still tastes like the old classic.  I can just imagine this on heirloom tomatoes next summer,  as a dip for crudites, or on crisp cold wedges of iceberg lettuce with some vegan bacon crumbles.
Vegan Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing

Makes enough for at least six salads.

1 Tablespoon Penzeys Spices Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base
1 Tablespoon water
3 Tablespoons full-fat plant milk (such as soy, almond, oat, hemp, rice, etc.)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (this gives a good tang too)
1/2 C Vegenaise (I like the one with the green lid)
If you decide you want this dressing thicker, add 2 or 3 tablespoons more of the Vegenaise vegan mayo.

-Mix the Penzeys Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base with the water, and let stand 5 minutes.
-In a separate bowl mix the plant milk with the vinegar, and let stand 5 minutes to curdle (this is your buttermilk).
-Mix the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and water mixture into the plant milk and vinegar mixture.
-Mix in the Vegenaise.  Stir well, or froth with a cafe latte frother.
-Cover and chill well in the refrigerator.
-Shake or stir before using.
-Keeps one week.

(I really do use the latte frother for anything like salad dressings or egg replacers it’s amazing how much volume you get, and how much more incorporated things can be)

Kale Quinoa Salad with Spiced Lime Vinaigrette

This salad is so delicious and pretty and healthy; packed with fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, etc.  Kale is lower in oxalates than spinach, making the calcium it supplies easily absorbed.  Kale is one of the Dirty Dozen, so it’s important to buy organic.  Of course, the vinaigrette could be used on lots of other salads or even cold steamed vegetables, such as beets or green beans, etc.  And it’s flexible; you can use whatever vinegars or whatever you have in the house.  However, I think the spices and ingredients lend themselves to paler vinegars, as opposed to dark heavy ones.  To save time, I toasted the almonds and made the dressing the day before.  I washed and spun the kale, and made the quinoa in the morning, and it was a snap come dinner time; I just had to do the chiffonade.  p.s.  Keep in mind that you will only use 6 tablespoons or so of the vinaigrette, for two people.  You will have leftovers if only making salad for two people.  I’ll just make more salad tomorrow, and use any leftover kale in the juicer.
Kale Quinoa Salad with Spiced Lime Vinaigrette

Serves 2

1/4 C of dried cherries, chopped coarsely, rehydrated with water for 15 minutes, and then drained.
3 cups chiffonaded fresh, raw organic kale, rinsed, spun-dry and chilled
1 C cooked quinoa, chilled or room temperature
1 or 2 ounces of sliced almonds, toasted

For the Vinaigrette:
juice of one lime
3 T sherry wine vinegar
2 tsps fig-infused white balsamic vinegar, such as Alessi brand (inexpensive and available in my local grocery stores) (or any white balsamic)
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (or 1/4 tsp, to taste)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp curry powder

Whisk vinegars together in a medium bowl.
Slowly whisk in each of the oils.
Whisk or froth in all seasonings and spices.
Chill in a glass jar.
When you remove it from the fridge, whisk or froth again, and it will hold together better once chilled.

Toast sliced almonds under the broiler for a few minutes (watch closely).

Plunge organic raw kale in cold water and swish, and let drain.  If you have a salad spinner, spin it dry.  Dressing will cling a bit better if it’s dryYou can also put the kale in a clean cotton pillow case and swing it dry.

To chiffonade the kale, cut the thicker parts of the ribs out of kale with a sharp knife.  Then stack and roll kale leaves and slice thinly, so you wind up with thin ribbons of kale.

Note:  I think dried cranberries would also be good in this.

Thousand Island Salad Dressing

    So popular in 1950’s America, Thousand Island Dressing has made a comeback in the ensuing decades.  Here’s a simple version that takes 5 minutes or less to whip up.  Make it ahead of time though, so you can served it chilled on crisp, cold wedges of iceberg lettuce.
Vegan Thousand Island Dressing

1 C vegan mayonnaise, such as Vegenaise brand
½ C organic ketchup
1 T sweet relish
2 t dill relish
1 t mustard
¼ tsp Buttermilk Ranch dressing base (from Penzey’s, it’s vegan)


Mix all and chill.
Makes at least 2-4 servings.
Note: If you don’t have the Penzey’s seasoning, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of onion powder, etc.   Optional:  you could also add 1/8 tsp cayenne and one teaspoon of minced capers, but it’s great as is too.