Weeknight Vegetarian: Sharpen up your saladmaking skills


Pesto Cauliflower and Potato Salad: A vegan take on pesto combines with potatoes and gets lighter with the addition of charred cauliflower. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel)
Joe Yonan
Editor, Food and Travel July 21

Salads aren’t just for summer, but summer is when they hit their stride. Seasonal vegetables overflow from your farmers market basket and herbs pop out of your container garden, demanding to be made into dressings. Summer’s pace — not to mention heat — compels you to cook quickly (if you cook at all).

Vegetarians who don’t have their saladmaking skills down would be wise to remedy the situation, because salads can showcase vegetables, grains and legumes like nothing else. They can make use of ingredients that you’ve cooked or prepped days earlier; they can usually last for many more days in the refrigerator (particularly if you leave them undressed); they pack well for brown-bagging; and they are most often perfectly happy being served at room temperature. That means they’re flexible, which means they’re invaluable.

Joe Yonan is the Food and Travel editor of The Washington Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column. View Archive

For salad inspiration, I can think of few sources better than the new cookbook “Salad Samurai,” by Terry Hope Romero (DeCapo Lifelong Books). Co-author of the mammoth “Veganomicon,” Romero brings her fun-loving sensibility and unerring palate to the table. Her recipes, with their brilliant combinations (grilled kale and spicy lentils; hazelnuts, shiitakes and butternut squash), span the seasons, but the biggest chapter concentrates just where you would expect: on summer.

That’s where I found a new favorite salad: cauliflower and potatoes with a pesto dressing. My definition of pesto includes cheese. Romero is a vegan, so hers doesn't, but that doesn’t mean her pesto tastes like an omission. It tastes like a salad dressing, and a really good one at that.

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