Salads can be simple, but as I was putting together my first ever plant-based – vegan – Easter dinner this year I decided that going for impressive, fabulous and a bit over the top, even when it comes to a salad, wouldn’t hurt. Maybe you’ve already seen, or even tasted, my Meatless Shepherd’s Pie – if you haven’t now would be a good time to do it – and this salad is what I paired it with.
The base of the salad is baby kale which you can probably get these days in any well-stocked supermarket. If you can’t find baby kale go with mixed field greens or baby lettuce, or just chop up some romain or butter lettuce. Stay away from baby spinach and iceberg lettuce as I am not convinced those two will play nice with roasted beets and roasted leeks.
What makes preparing this salad a bit more elaborate than your tossed salad is the fact that both leeks and beets need to be cleaned, chopped, roasted and cooled before hitting the salad bowl. I’ve already shared how to clean leeks, so I used the same cleaning method on this occasion as well. For this recipe I recommend cleaning and chopping the beets before roasting to maximize the amount of beer surface that is nicely caramelized. You may want to wear gloves when you handle beets as they will stain your hands. I personally don’t mind it at all but if you do please plan to protect your hands an wear the gloves.
Baby Kale with Roasted Beets and Leeks tossed with a Lemon Vinaigrette
What you’ll need:
11 oz (312 g) baby kale
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
What you’ll do:
Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
Clean the leeks to remove all the sand and dirt that leeks usually come with. Dry well and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spray with a generous amount of cooking spray.
Peel the beets and cut them to 1 in (2.5 cm) cubes. Place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.
Take out of the oven and let cool for several hours. You want the roasted vegetables to be at room temperature for this one!
To make the lemon vinaigrette, mix together juice and zest of one lemon, with the olive oil and Dijon mustard.
Place baby kale in a large salad bowl. Top with roasted beets and leeks, and drizzle the vinaigrette all over the salad. Toss everything together and serve!!!
Soups are part of all cultures and culinary traditions. So it is no wonder that I make pots and pots of soups each week. My absolutely go to soup is Vegan Split Pea Soup or variations of it made with lentils, but over the last few months I have also shared with you a colorful and fabulously satisfying Bean & Leek Soup with Soy Chorizo, and even a vegan version of the New England Clam Chowder.
Why such a soup passion? Well, I grew up eating soup almost every day, and the soups my mom made came in many different shapes, forms and sizes. Soups are a great way to combine different bits and bobs into a one pot to create a satisfying meal for a family. In general, soups are easy to make, very inexpensive, and they store and reheat very well. So, what’s not to love?
This Sweet Potato and Leek Soup is my take on a standard soup that is usually made with potatoes, leeks, butter and heavy cream. I got rid of butter and heavy cream and replaced potatoes with sweet potatoes, making this version a bit sweeter. But, I did not remove all the fun – I made some tofu bacon to top this soup with. The Buddhist Chef makes the most fabulous tofu bacon and I’ve been using his recipe to make crunchy and delicious vegan bacon that works as a snack, in sandwiches and now on soups.
You can top this soup with couple of other toppings if you don’t have time to make the tofu bacon. Chives or green onions (scallions) will work, as will cashew sour cream like the one Angela Liddon shared on her Oh She Glows site, or simple croutons aka piece of toast cut in smaller pieces. Regardless what you put on top of your bowl of Sweet Potato and Leek soup what’s inside it is a tasty, creamy and healthy soup.
Sweet Potato and Leek Soup
What you’ll need:
5 sweet potatoes
2-3 large leeks
4 cups vegetable stock (optional)
3 cups water (or 7 cups if you decide not to use stock)
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons potato starch
2 bay leaves
What you’ll do:
Peel and cube sweet potatoes and carrots into a rough chunks. The size of the chunks does not really matter because you will use a blender at the end to create a smooth and creamy soup. But, the smaller the chunks the quicker the cooking so decide for yourself if you would like to spend more time simmering or more time chopping.
Prepare the leeks using the cleaning method of your choice. The leeks are very often full of send and dirt that gets inside the leek so you will need to open them up and wash everything out. I described my preferred cleaning method in one of my previous posts.
Spray the bottom of a large pot with the cooking spray and place it over the medium high heat. Add leeks and sauté for 5 minutes. The leeks should soften and start to brown.
Add sweet potatoes, carrots, bay leave and potato starch. Mix well and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Add vegetable stock and/or water. mix well and turn the heat on high. Stirring occasionally, bring the pot to boil then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on whether your vegetables were chopped into smaller or larger chunks.
Take the bay leaves out and add the almond milk. Using either a counter top blender or a hand held stick blender to blend the soup together and create smooth soup. Top with any topping you like and enjoy!