Cookbook Review: Salad Samurai

Fiery Fruit and Quinoa
The Fiery Fruit and Quinoa was a party favorite.

Is it just me or are salads sometimes a double-edged sword for vegans? On one hand, you’ve got the restaurant where the only vegan option is a very basic garden salad and those unfamiliar with veganism assume that you only eat salads. On the other hand, you have Terry Hope Romero’s Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Healthy Easy-To-Make Salads You Don’t Have To Be Vegan To Love, in which flavor, texture, and visual appeal meld in delicious dishes like Fiery Fruit & Quinoa Salad or my personal favorite, the Tempeh Reubenesque Salad. Romero hits a home run with her newest cookbook, which offers a hundred recipes that can be mixed and matched to make countless meals that will make even the most reluctant a fan of salads.

Salad Samurai offers recipes by season and supplies the basic building blocks for you to choose-your-own-adventure with dressings, proteins, and salad toppers. (Homemade croutons are the way to go!) She encourages you to pick a day of the week to prep a bunch of options to have at the ready for salads all week long. Throughout the book, beautiful, full-color photos of the dishes will make your mouth water. While the salads certainly have you covered for lunch and dinner, the final chapter includes sweet and savory breakfast options like Overnight Oats with Mexican Chocolate Creme and Avocado & Tofu Breakfast Bowl with Carrot Ginger Dressing.

With most recipes, Romero includes cooking tips under the heading “The Spin” and variations labeled as “Samurai Stylings.” Of the seven variations for the loyal standby ranch dressing, my favorites included maple “bacon” and creamy sriracha. Romero also does a great job of labeling recipes as raw or gluten-free for those looking for those options.

Herbed Pea Ricotta on Garden Fresh Tomatoes with Basil is summer-on-a-plate.
Herbed Pea Ricotta on Garden Fresh Tomatoes with Basil is summer-on-a-plate.

Romero is an expert with flavor and technique, but she shows restraint with her gourmet prowess and provides recipes that even novices in the kitchen can execute. I tried the Relaxed Shredded Kale, a simple side salad recipe. I gobbled it up and made a mental note to add it to the weekly rotation. Following her recipe guidance and using a standard blender, I whipped up an ultra-creamy Herbed Pea Ricotta and served it on a bed of sliced tomatoes. (Try the leftover ricotta on pasta — so good!) I made the tangy, creamy Galapagos Island Dressing with the smoky-sweet Tempeh Bacon Bites and rye Classic Croutons and had a dinner party of omnivores raving for the Reubenesque Salad. What a clever take on the classic Reuben! The dressings and salad toppers often made more than needed for a recipe, but I didn’t mind. I could use the leftover ingredients to create quick salads while on the go, and I would enjoy the intensely tasty 5-spice Tamari Almonds on their own as a protein-packed snack.

If you love flavor and want some help creating healthy, mostly non-processed meals that will satisfy your taste buds and fill your tummy, check out Salad Samurai.

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