This month we review a book that turns salads into year-round delights.
100 cutting-edge, ultra-hearty, easy-to-make salads
you don't have to be vegan to love
By Terry Hope Romero
Da Capo Press, 2014
Veteran cookbook author Terry Hope Romero wields a sharp knife to morph into a Salad Samurai, the witty title of her new cookbook that centers on salads with verve and vitality. Her compelling approach makes one rethink the standard, uninspired clump of greens tossed with sparse shreds of carrot and purple cabbage.
This author is just plain tired of salads that suck and is unrestrained about expressing her views with flip, unapologetic humor. As remedy, she took up the knife and skillfully created 100 sensational salads focused on the four seasons, though some of her recipes can become year-round delights.
Though she shuns detailed meal-planning, she offers a few plan-ahead tips for the home cook and even squeezes in suggestions for using leftovers. This author is dedicated to freshness and recommends eating delicate greens within two days, before they lose their freshness.
Terry stresses reading a recipe thoroughly and noting ingredients that require a shopping trip. Icons beneath recipe titles alert readers to those that are gluten-free, while "raw-ready" suggests ways to make the salad totally raw.
The book is packed with a banquet of suggestions from various ways to serve a salad and how to press tofu to a treasury of salad dressings that add spark to a bowl of greens.
The main feature of the book comprises the recipes that are filled with so many variations one could never tire of eating salad that's perked up with never-ending nuances. Toppings like Roasted Hemp Seed Parmesan or Massaged Onions bring pleasing surprise to the diner. With nineteen different toppings to stoke up a salad, dining on a bowl of veggies never becomes boring.
Samurai Stylings, noted with a sword icon following a recipe, calls attention to suggestions for varying the recipe. Back at the Ranch Dressing lists seven variations under the sword, suggestions that turn the recipe into one that might become sweeter, more savory, spicier, or tangy.
The salad section begins with Spring, a season that features fresh strawberries, blueberries, and lacinato (Tuscan) kale that's "sweetest after a touch of frost." The Asparagus Pad Thai Salad stands apart because fresh asparagus is given a unique presentation with the use of a Y-shaped peeler to create long, thin shreds. Another Spring feature is Lentil Paté Banh Mi Salad Rolls that encase the salad in Vietnamese-style rice paper wrappers.
Terry takes salad to new heights with her version of a NYC sandwich chain's specialty, Chopped Chickpea Endive Spears. This salad, found in the Summer section, combines a blend of mashed chickpeas with diced red peppers, Kalamata olives, cilantro, and chopped preserved lemon. The mixture is artfully spooned into endive leaves and finished with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper flakes.
The Fall and Winter sections offer a never-ending supply of delicious salad presentations that would tempt even those who rarely reach for a salad. There's even salad for breakfast--not your ordinary salad but fresh innovations like Avocado and Tofu Breakfast Bowl or Apples 'n' Quinoa Bowl a la Mode. The book concludes with Metric Conversions that make the recipes easily convertible for those living outside the U.S.
Graphically, the book is ultra-compelling with gorgeous, full-page color photos of most of the recipes. The creative use of black backgrounds for section divisions and recipe ingredients stands out with a touch of samurai drama. Many of the salads, toppings, and ingredients are also photographed on a black background to make a splashy display.
Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero is a cookbook treasure! Packed with alluring salad recipes, magnificent photos, and innovative suggestions, the book is one everyone ought to consider THE household handbook for salads that are not only beautiful, but also bountifully heaped with ideas for delicious dining.