Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vegan Party Salads

I didn't expect to be hosting any vegans at my party, but you never know, and I thought it would be nice to have a couple healthy salads as a complement to the big cheese plate. I have never understood why potato salad with mayo is such a popular dish for outdoor gatherings, anyway, considering the health risks, so I made a mustard-shallot vinaigrette. Whenever celery is not in season, colorful swiss chard stems are the pefect crunchy stand-in. I don't bother with bacon or pickles or other crazy fixings because I think this simple variation on potato salad tastes justs fine.

For the bean salad, I opted to use wheat berries because they are available cheaply from Cayuga Pure Organics, but rye berries, farro, brown rice, or other grains could work here. I made an exception to my local role and went exotic with avocados to add a creamy element in place of cheese. I also just realized that I forgot to add fresh herbs, but parsley or cilantro would definitely enhance the brightness of the avocado and lemon.

Both salads can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, and are best served the same day they are prepared - the flavors dulled after the leftovers spent a night in the refrigerator. Check out more of my fun party salad recipes, here.

Potato Salad with Swiss Chard Stems and Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette
1/2 small onion
stems of 1 bunch swiss chard
1 shallot
3 tbsp mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Chop and add potatoes. Cook until fork tender, drain, and set aside. Dice onion and the stems of a bunch of swiss chard (reserve chard leaves for another use). Dice shallot. In a small bowl, whisk together shallot with remaining ingredients and adjust levels to taste. Add onion, chard stems, and vinaigrette to potatoes and stir until thoroughly combined.

Bean, Avocado, and Wheat Berry Salad
1 1/2 cups dried black beans
1 1/2 cups wheat berries or other grain
1/3 head of cabbage
1/2 small onion
4 fat cloves of garlic
1/3 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
3 avocados
zest and juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

Soak beans and wheat berries together overnight or for several hours. Simmer in a large pot for about one hour, or in a slow cooker on high for about 4 hours or low for about 8 hours, until beans are tender and grains are just slightly chewy. Drain and rinse thoroughly. The beans and wheat berries can be made up to two days ahead, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Chop cabbage into shreds, dice onion, garlic, and herbs, and chop avocados. Combine with bean and grain mixture, and add lemon zest and juice, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

1 comment:

  1. So nice of you to include some delicious vegetarian meals into a cook-out menu! These both sound delicious, and I will totally give them a try! Thank you!