Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Salad Days

It's hot. Like heat index of 105 degrees kinda hot. And just as jeans, socks, and anything with sleeves is out of the question, so is turning on the oven. I've been eating lots of cold stuff this week — cold noodles, salads, and the like.

I created this Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Salad for my new cookbook project (for which I'm veganizing retro foods of the past century).

I'll be using this recipe in my 1980s chapter. I'm sure pasta salad dates back to pre-1980s. But the 80s were the days of tri-color rotini noodle salads at family reunions and potlucks. Maybe that was just my memories of the 80s. But hey, it works. I'm pretty sure the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would think this pizza-flavored pasta salad was totally radical. And that's pretty damn 80s. Gnarly dude.

Rotini pasta is tossed with a homemade garlicky oil & vinegar & marinara dressing. There's lots of olives, minced onions, and yellow bell pepper. And of course, vegan pepperoni. I try to avoid using too many plant meats in my recipes and instead opt for tofu, tempeh, and seitan. That's simply to make the recipes more accessible to people in small towns who may not have access to a variety of faux meats. It's definitely not out of some health concern thing. If you like fake meat, that's okay. It's way better for you (and the animals) than meat-meat. Sure, it's processed food. But it's processed food with lower saturated fat and no cholesterol. And many vegan plant meats are made with fairly wholesome ingredients. Don't eat it at every meal. But eat it as a treat. Plant meat is tasty. It's all about balance.

Alright, I'm off the soapbox. But all that is to say, I just had to include plant pepperoni in this! You could leave it out and it would still be pizza-ish (thanks to marinara in the dressing). But pepperoni makes it pretty darn awesome.

On the side, I had this vegan version of the Caprese Salad in a Jar from my friends Justin and Amy's The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook.

That's mesclun mix, halved heirloom cherry tomatoes, diced Teese mozzarella, fresh basil, and an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

Justin' version was actually already vegan since it didn't call for any mozzarella at all. But I added the Teese mozzarella cause it seemed like a good idea for a caprese salad. Also, I left out the broccolini called for in the recipe because I forgot to buy it.

But I have a confession: I HATE ARUGALA. Hate it. And this mesclun mix from the farmer's market was loaded with it. I ate this salad for three days, really trying to learn to love the peppery, bitter green. But I couldn't. Next time, I will make this with romaine. I'm romaine and iceberg girl. Don't care much for all those fancy microgreens.

Anyway, I'll keep staying cool with salads. But tomorrow morning, I'm flying to Miami for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention. I won't be blogging tomorrow, but I'll be back with a Miami vegan food recap on Sunday or Monday night.


Dana said...

Oh girl, I hate arugula too! It's definitely hot here, and I also am trying my best not to turn the oven on!

Adi said...

That looks like a very delicious salad! I've been wondering what type of cold foods I can make too for this summer. My boyfriend has been bringing me fresh vegetarian sandwiches from his work so I occasionally cook here and there. I'd really love to try making this.

Cadry said...

I totally agree on the plant-based meats and disdain for arugula. I've tried to like it, but I just can't get there. Collards, kale, romaine, and green leaf lettuce are all my game. Arugula? No dice.

Jenny said...

I'll be making this...with baby spinach! Holds up way better than any type of lettuce, IMO. I'm also against arugula. Don't even get me started on radicchio. Ick.

aimee said...

Your new cooking project sounds like fun! xo

Kyleigh said...

You know, I used to hate Arugula too, Despise it though. Then last year I went to Europe for a month and, some of the towns I went to were very vegan unfriendly and so I ate a lot of salads, and in Europe they pretty much put Arugula in every single salad all of the time. I couldn't escape it - especially once i hit Germany. Arugula was everywhere.

Strangely choking it down for an entire month has made me come to love it, and now I can't imagine life without it!

The Pizza Pasta Salad looks awesome! what a great idea!

Sheridan & Drew said...

I love your salad ideas! Drew and I have been in a bit of a salad rut. We need to be more creative! I want pizza pasta salad! YUM!

Anonymous said...

This looks soooooo good! I can't wait to get your new cookbook! :)

Highball Emy said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only person in the world who hates arugula (we call it rocket over here). And it's such an inconvenient thing not to like as a vegetarian/vegan!



tender b. said...

A lovely looking salad. Is there one brand of meat free pepporoni you've come to enjoy?

Miss Lynzie said...

I love love love the idea of your new cookbook, Bianca! I agree with the sentiment that arugula is an acquired taste, one which I'm still acquiring. But I will eat pasta salad all day, every day, and this one looks so good!

GlutenFreeHappyTummy said...

I agree, cold salads are a MUST in the summer. Ovens are simply a "no no"

Carrie™ said...

Your new cookbook sounds like a great idea! Your pasta salad has me sold.

Lesley Eats said...

You hate arugula? I think you just haven't had it the right way. ;)

But seriously, I love it. It's like a pepper substitute. Great as pesto.