Guest post from cookbook author Paula Marie Coomer

"Saladifying" My New Year's Resolve!

I've been living a vegan lifestyle for a number of years now, and it has had the opposite effect on me from what it has had on others. Most people get skinny very quickly (Bill Clinton, for example, is a smidge compared with his pre-vegan size). Not me. My heritage is one of hard- working farmers, people who for hundreds of years sustained themselves in south-central Kentucky by using their bodies to produce a living and the food they ate. 

I am programmed—as we all are, technically—for rather constant movement, but I don't walk a plow behind a mule; I don't chop tobacco, don't chase chickens for Sunday breakfast. I sit. I type. I drag a pen across a notebook page. I wax poetic in front of university writing students.

This year my New Year's resolution was to eat fewer high-calorie nuts and nut butters and delicious breads and pastries my local gluten-free bakery makes. I resolved to sit less. I resolved to be in the house less. I resolved to work a little bit less. But, as any student of addiction knows, if you give up one thing, you have to replace it with something else, or you will end up always going to go back to that old, comfortable, bad habit.

So, my vow was to replace all those things I just mentioned with salad. I've developed quite a knack for creating interesting salads and delectable low-fat dressings with surprising flavor and texture intersections—so much so that I featured a number of them in my new cookbook, Blue Moon Vegan

What I've found is that a good salad energizes my day. I can make an entire meal of one, but I can also make them into a snack just as easily as I can almond butter on toast or a handful of high-calorie trail mix. I can fix them up ahead of time in quart canning jars, pour a little dressing on top and, just before I'm ready to eat it, toss that jar around a bit to mix the dressing in, and munch on it off and on all day. How much more satisfying a snack that would be.

Here from my new cookbook Blue Moon Vegan is a recipe that works very well as a jar salad. Plus, it looks really pretty, too.

Endive and Bok Choy in Creamy Basil-Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Dressing and Candied Grapefruit
1 large white grapefruit
8 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plain coconut milk yogurt
2 tablespoons honey

Candied grapefruit
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup filtered water

For each salad:
2 large leaves curly endive
2 large leaves curly bib lettuce
3 leaves baby bok choy

To make the dressing:
Remove grapefruit pulp from membrane, preserving as much juice and pulp as possible, and place in a small food processor. Set aside peel. Chop basil leaves finely and add to grapefruit pulp. Add remaining dressing ingredients and process until very smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate.

To make the candied grapefruit:
Cut ½ of a grapefruit peel into 1/4”- x 1”-inch pieces and toss the rest. Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat. Boil peel pieces in sugar water until translucent. Remove with slotted spoon, allowing liquid to drain away. Set aside peel pieces on parchment paper to cool.

To make the salad:
Remove white stems from baby bok choy, slice crosswise into 1/4” inch slices, and set aside. Tear endive and lettuce into bite-sized pieces and set aside. For each salad, arrange salad in a bowl by laying 3 bok choy leaves so that they protrude above the edge of the bowl or at cross positions on a salad plate. Arrange 2 large endive leaves and 2 large lettuce leaves on top of bok choy leaves. Arrange sliced bok choy stems on top of endive.

Drizzle dressing on salads. Garnish with candied grapefruit. Serve immediately. Makes enough dressing to for 6-8 servings.


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