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Shake up your salads

Terry Hope Romero's robust, filling salads put limp piles of lettuce to shame

All Animals magazine, March/April 2017

by Kelly L. Williams

Terry Hope Romero's Smokehouse Chickpeas ‘n’ Greens Salad will keep your belly full and your tastebuds tingling. Photo by Vanessa K. Rees.

A few years ago, vegan cookbook author Terry Hope Romero found herself stuck in an isolated New Jersey hotel for the night. Without a car, she had to order dinner from the hotel bar’s uninspiring menu, opting for the wedge salad without the usual buttermilk dressing and bacon on top. “They literally gave me half a head of iceberg lettuce with three slices of that kind of pink cardboard tomato and a ring of onion on it,” remembers Romero. “They must think I’m crazy.”

With experiences like this one in mind, Romero decided to write a cookbook celebrating salad, playfully named Salad Samurai. Her six previous cookbooks, written alone or with Isa Chandra Moskowitz, celebrated decadence, with titles like Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They filled a cookbook void in the early 2000s. Back then, most vegan cookbooks “tended to be a little more brown rice-y,” she says. “When the cupcake book came out,” Romero says, “we had people telling us like, ‘I went vegan 10 years ago and I haven’t had a cupcake in 10 years!’ ”

  • Vegan cookbook author Terry Hope Romero. Photo courtesy of the author.

Today, many vegan cookbooks embrace decadence, featuring rich desserts, plant-based cheeses and hearty meat substitutes. So Romero’s decision to write a salad-only book took her full circle. “I really felt like, man, salads can be great,” says Romero. “So there was this idea of like let’s make salads hearty, let’s make them filling.” Instead of a “morose pile of limp leaves,” the options in Salad Samurai are main dishes. From a deconstructed Reuben sandwich (tempeh bacon, sauerkraut, “Galapagos Island” dressing) to an update on the classic Caesar (buffalo ranch sauce, spicy tofu, shredded veggies), Romero’s creative take on salad will leave you smiling—and satiated.

Ready to reclaim salad for yourself? Romero has a few tips. First, grab a bowl that holds at least 4 cups. Next, ditch the store-bought dressing. “You don’t need to buy bottled salad dressing ever. Ever, ever, ever.” Fresh dressing takes just minutes to prepare in a blender. Finally, consider your protein. From toothsome marinated tempeh to warm, chewy grains, protein fuels you long after your massive salad bowl is empty.

“You can do it,” Romero says. “Now salad is one of my favorite things.”

Smokehouse Chickpeas ‘n’ Greens Salad

Serves 2. Recipe by Terry Hope Romero.


Roasted BBQ Chickpeas

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (preferably hickory)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (optional)


6 cups baby spinach or mixed salad greens
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 big, ripe avocado, diced
½ cup julienned carrot
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Smoked Paprika Dressing

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoons smoked sweet or hot paprika
½ teaspoon smoked salt or regular salt


1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then pour in the olive oil and tilt the pan to coat. Add the chickpeas and fry for about 6 minutes, or until golden. Whisk together the tamari (or soy sauce), tomato paste, maple syrup and liquid smoke. Pour over the chickpeas, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, tear the greens into bite-sized pieces, wash and dry. Transfer to a large salad bowl and add the onion, tomatoes, avocado and carrot. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss to coat and divide the salad among serving bowls.
3. If using, sprinkle nutritional yeast over the warm chickpeas and stir to coat. Top the salad with hot chickpeas and a twist of freshly ground black pepper to taste.

PER SERVING: Calories: 695; fat: 35g; protein: 25g; sodium; 470mg

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