"Salads aren't boring!" I say to everyone who asks what I love to eat as a vegan and then, I wait for them to give me the suspicious eyes at my answer. I legitimately love salads though. Here are the responses I usually get upon saying that salads are my favorite meal...
"Oh, you are so good - Miss Health Nut over here!" Yes, salads are healthy, but I'm not on "diet."
"Yeah, I guess salads are a good way to get all your veggies in one meal, huh?" Yeah, they have lots of veggies and it's a good way to ensure I get my daily intake, but I don't struggle with doing that each and every day.
"Come on, no one likes salads that much; it must be because they are so easy to just throw together, right?" Actually, I really kinda do (like salads that much) and no, they aren't "just throw together."
My salads, the good kind, take work. They are easy from a perspective that you don't have to have a lot of skill to put them together, but they are complex from a perspective that you need to have the right building blocks of texture and flavor to make them really shine.
Sustainability Spotlight: Building blocks. We play with them as babies and toddlers. We stack and craft, create and admire our efforts. Then, it falls. We tried to add just one more piece, but it was precarious. The laws of science smacked our naivety back to reality with a clatter and scatter. Lesson learned; building blocks have a tipping point.
So too, does this planet have a tipping point with our non-renewable resources and we passed it handily. Various resources can be cited to this point, and many guesstimated the time / date somewhere near the present (or recent past), but it is clear that there is consensus: Our non-renewable resources (aka - energy) tipping point has come and gone. We will have less and less non-renewable energy sources from today onward, and they.will.not.ever.be.regenerated.
I hope that sentence really hits with the degree of severity it is meant, dear reader. It's meant to feel catastrophic. It's meant to feel definite. It's meant to feel finite. Humans never grew past our toddlerhood, and our building blocks have reached the top of scientific allowance. Our modern society is on the brink of energy collapse and most humans just keep reaching for the top of the stack; burning more and more; using more and more, like it will always be available.
Perhaps the best thing to happen will be the fall of all the non-renewable energy building blocks that we have constructed our society upon. It will require us to then rebuild, in new and creative ways that have not yet been a part of our history. Innovation, elevation, and collaboration will be required to reach new heights and strengthen our foundations.
Much like this salad that is built on the backbone of flavors, textures, temperatures, and colors to make a visual and delicious dish, it takes all the blocks (ingredients) arranged artfully to make a sustainable future. If done correctly, the future ideas and resources are deftly stacked over, under, around and through our society to make it whole.
Let these thoughts and stark admissions become your building blocks for individual sustainability choices. Maybe use a little less water; maybe turn off that extra light; maybe walk or take your bike where you need to go; and maybe, just maybe we can change the building blocks of our lives and rebuild a sustainable; renewable energy society.
But definitely make salad...because it's delicious.
1.5 lbs shiitake and oyster mushrooms (chopped)
salt & pepper (to taste)
1 lemon (juiced)
1 bunch lacinato kale (chopped)
3 bakery bread slices (cubed)
1/2 tsp each:
1 handful baby arugula
1/2 red onion sliced thin (then sliced in half to be quarter moons)
3 stalks celery (sliced)
~1/4 cup chopped roasted (unsalted) hazelnuts
3 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp hemp seeds
Garnish: 1 avocado (to serve - optional)
Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette:
6 tbsp avocado oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 tsp stone ground mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of smoked chili flakes
pinch of oregano
Heat a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat and dry saute mushrooms (no oil) for ~5 minutes with a sprinkle of salt. Once the mushrooms have released their juices and have browned / become fragrant, turn off heat and add lemon juice. Stir and season with a pinch more salt and pepper.
While your mushrooms cook, add kale to a large bowl and top with mushrooms (hot mushrooms will serve to wilt kale slightly).
Return pan to heat and add a swirl of avocado oil; once it shimmers, add bakery bread plus the listing of 1/2 tsp seasonings. Saute till bread becomes crisp (~4 minutes); stirring frequently.
While your bread cooks, add all remaining ingredients in the salad (arugula through hemp seeds) to the large bowl with the kale and mushrooms. Once the bread is done, add to the large bowl.
Last, add all ingredients of Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette to a personal blender and blitz until incorporated and slightly foamy.
Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss.
Serve in bowls topped with the avocado (if using).