Salad Samurai

I’ve been enjoying a new cookbook hot off the presses – Salad Samurai – by Terry Hope SaladRomero that my sister gave me because she knows my family isn’t big on just eating salad for dinner, even when loaded with lots of good toppings.  Salad Samurai is definitely helping me convert them into salad lovers!

Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz wrote Veganomicon, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (and it is!!), and in more recent years both have had lots of success writing cookbooks solo.  Veganomicon was my first go to cookbook – the vegan holy book perhaps – and was the basis of a few of my favorite blog recipes like Cheez (modified from Cashew Ricotta in Veganomicon) and Sloppy Lennies (modified from Snobby Joes in Veganomicon).  If I could have taken a year off work to cook through a cookbook, this would have been the first on my list.

Our favorite Salad Samurai dish so far has been the Bacon Kale Tomato Bowl, which we adapted as the BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado) Bowl with Romero’s fabulous Back at the Ranch dressing.  The Tempeh Bacon Bites needed little adaptation, so I only removed the oil from the marinade, though you may need some oil spray for the cast iron pan.  Back at the Ranch dressing also contained a small amount of oil, but I found replacing it with ground flax seed worked beautifully.  If you don’t have ground flax seed on hand, just halve the amount of water in the recipe and  after blending all ingredients add it gradually if needed.

Tempeh Bacon 

8 oz organic tempeh

2 T maple syrup

2 T organic tamari

1 T ketchup (without high fructose corn syrup!)

1/4 t liquid smoke

Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch strips and then into ~1 inch long pieces (bite-sized).  Whisk remaining ingredients in a small bowl and marinate tempeh in the refrigerator overnight or at least for 10 minutes.  Preheat a cast iron pan over medium heat and lightly spray with oil if needed.  Reserve the marinade and cook tempeh pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Add marinade and simmer until it has absorbed.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Back at the Ranch Dressing

1/2 c raw cashew pieces

1/2 to 3/4 c water

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 T ground flax seeds

1 clove garlic or 1 t crushed garlic

2 t organic white miso

2 t Dijon mustard

1 t garlic powder

1 t onion powder

up to 3 T chopped fresh herbs such as dill, basil, or tarragon

Put all the ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth.  (Without a high powered blender, you’ll need to soak the cashew pieces in water for 30 min or nuke in water for 15 seconds then drain and add to blender.)  The dressing thickens with refrigeration but if you don’t have much time to chill it, start with 1/2 c water and add more later if needed.  If you don’t have ground flax seeds, you’ll miss out on omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, but you can still make a thinner dressing starting with just 1/4 c water and adding more later if needed.  My plain Jane family doesn’t care for dill, so we’ve been eating this dressing without the fresh herbs, and it works fine.  I’m sure it will serve as a great base for other recipes too.

BLTA Salad

Shredded greens (lettuce, kale, spinach, etc)

Tempeh Bacon

Tomatoes, diced

Avocado, diced

Back at the Ranch dressing

I also adapted Romero’s BBQ Tempeh ‘N’ Dilly Slaw Bowl to fit my needs (which are almost always fewer ingredients and less time).  Romero’s inspiration of serving BBQ tempeh on a bed of slaw (and the BBQ potato chips) fits right at home here in NC.  When you’re designing your next salad, remember that cabbage is a great base with many health benefits- not just vitamins C and E, selenium, and fiber.

Cabbage is an easily forgotten member of the cruciferous family, same as broccoli.  Because people who eat generous amounts of cruciferous vegetables have remarkably low cancer rates, researchers have tried to isolate the compounds responsible for the anti-cancer effects.  One way cruciferous vegetables impact hormone dependent cancers is to change the way estrogens are broken down and eliminated.  Normally, estradiol (which is a potent estrogen) is metabolized to 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone, which encourages cancer cell growth in test tubes.  However the presence of a cruciferous vegetable extract (indole-3-carbinol) causes the body to convert more of the estradiol to 2-hydroxyestrone, which has anticancer activity. (Bell et al 2000; Barnard and Reilly 2008)

So make the BBQ Slaw Bowl below or use cabbage in your next delicious salad, and kudos to Terry on another fabulous book!

BBQ Slaw Bowl

Organic tempeh

All natural barbecue sauce

Shredded cabbage and carrots

Optional: thinly sliced onion

Back at the Ranch dressing

Optional: BBQ potato chips, pickles

Toss the cabbage, carrots, and onion (if using) with the Ranch dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch strips or triangles and marinate in the barbecue sauce for at least 10 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.  In a preheated cast iron skillet over medium high heat, cook the tempeh for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Serve the BBQ tempeh warm or at room temperature atop the slaw.  Sprinkle with BBQ  potato chips if using or serve with a pickle spear or slices.



Bell MC, Crowley-Nowick R, Bradlow HL et al. Placebo-controlled trial of indole-3-carbinol in the treatment of CIN. Gynecol Oncol 2000; 78:123-129.

Barnard ND, Reilly JK. The Cancer Survivor’s Guide. 2008