When I was growing up, Friday night was always "eatin' out" night. We didn't dine out anywhere fancy — just sandwiches or Taco Bell or some other fast food. But every once in a while, my parents would take me to Big Al's, a little old country gas station that served some pretty delicious barbecue (at least, I remember it being quite tasty).
I know, you're thinking "barbecue in a gas station? How white trash is that?!' Yes, it is pretty white trash, but yo, I grew up in Arkansas. Folks eat barbecue in gas stations there. It's just the way things are done. Anyway, Big Al's served a barbecue salad of tangy pulled pork, cheddar, some iceberg lettuce, and salad dressing (I always chose ranch). Being the weird kid that I was back then, I ordered my salad with no lettuce — just meat and cheese, please. My parents used to tease me about eating a salad with no salad in it.
After going vegetarian at age 14, Big Al's was out. And I started eating lettuce. Haven't had a barbecue salad since. Well, until last night ... when I combined barbecue seitan, vegan cheeze, veggies, and homemade vegan ranch:
I'm calling it Big B's Barbecue Salad as a tribute to Big Al's. But Big B's salad is way, way, way healthier. For one, Big Al's salad didn't include any actual veggies besides lettuce ... at least not that I remember. Mine has romaine, red pepper, radish, carrot, green onion, cucumber, tomato, and sprouts. The recipe — along with the recipes for barbecue seitan and vegan ranch — will be included in my cookbook. Here's an extreme barbecue close-up:
I used Follow Your Heart vegan cheeze and bacon bits as well. But those are totally optional. And I served the salad with Kashi Heart to Heart crackers, a healthier version of Triscuits. I'm sure the 8-year-old me would have wrinkled her nose up at all this healthy food, but grown-up me would take barbecue seitan salad over barbecue meat salad anyday.