I don’t know about you, but in 2014-2015 I basically lived at bloomers every Tuesday morning. I’d make sure to buy coffee and food on the regular, but I would park myself in a booth, and sit there with my laptop for several hours. It was not usually super busy on Tuesdays and I was always happy to share my table – including organizing Tuesdates, for other Coffice workers – which a few people even took me up on over the year or so. The folks there didn’t seem to mind, and I tried to be a good visitor.
One of my favourite dishes – other than their dipped peanut butter stout cookies and reuben sandwich, was the Cobb Salad. Everything on top made the salad great – it didn’t always have the same toppings, but usually it was some combination of thinly sliced onions, kalamata olives, marinated eggy sliced hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, fried tofu or tempeh, chickpeas or kidney beans, avocado, and very delicious croutons made from the bakery bread (or bean and buckwheat bacon bits.) After all of these years, I cannot remember the type of dressing it came with, but I’ve just made my own salad dressing instead.
Do you ever get the impression that diet culture has ruined some of the vibrant possibilities of salad for a lot of people? That the only time many people eat “salad” is during a time of restriction? Thereby missing out on the vast possibilities that a salad can hold? Then always having a negative impression of salad later when it could be so good? Anyway, I used to be a salad hater, at least in part because of those late 90s prairie vegan “we only have bad salad” options, and it was usually a diet salad and not something vibrant or particularly exciting – think ice berg lettuce, with a pale tomato and some low fat Italian dressing. I am not about that life.
I’ve found that salads can be such a wonderful sensory experience with the right ingredients – but when we make them in a calorie restrictive way, they are not necessarily as great as they could be. And then people’s idea of a bowl full of vegetables might be negative, when it could be so wonderful. I have really enjoyed the “vegetable forward” movement for it’s influence in this regard – centre vegetables, while also targeting people that just love going out for a fancy dinner, and not just limiting the idea to a certain subset of people.
I can see how this dish would have been a great one to serve in a restaurant, because it is easy to scale, and better if you make ALOT of everything, because it’s just a whole bunch of prep, but the pay off is worth it. On that note, it lends itself well to advanced meal prep too. If you’re one of those people that can eat the same thing every day and not get tired of it – I think this is a solid contender.
When I approached this recipe I thought about some of the different parts I’d need to do before I arranged everything on top of the lettuce. Dicing up tofu and air frying or baking it seemed like a great step one, making the eggy marinade and marinating the sliced palm hearts seemed like the perfect step two. Letting it sit while prepping all the other ingredients really lets the eggy flavour permeate. If you’re not a fan of egginess, you can skip the kala namak. (the hearts of palm are still great in a salad!)
I took out my mandolin for both the purple onion and the optional radicchio, it’s not necessary, but I love getting thin slices of things and don’t have the confidence in my knife skills to do it the regular way. I also had pre-pitted kalamata olives, and simply cut them in half lengthwise. I had prepared chickpeas from dry beans for this recipe, but rinsed canned chickpeas would work perfectly as well. I also like to crisp the chickpeas in the oven or in an air-fryer sometimes, assuming I have the time. In the oven at 425F for 30 minutes usually does the trick, but there are plenty of recipes online.
The avocado for this salad is from a bag of frozen avocado we had kicking around – it’s such a nice option, especially if like me, you have terrible luck on timing with buying and eating avocados. The best part is that they’re available at most grocery stores. You can make your own croutons if you want to, but I usually use whatever vegan ones I can find. (My favourite are the ones from Ace Bakery, they make garlic croutons that are just awesome.)
I hope that you enjoy this one – I was hoping to find a salad just like this online, but for once, my search came up empty.
Bloomer’s Copycat Vegan Cobb SaladCourse: SaladsCuisine: VeganDifficulty: Easy
A vegan Cobb salad recipe with a simple dressing. A sensory feast.
1 package of tofu, cubed
1 tsp oil
salt to taste
1/2 cup sliced hearts of palm, sliced. (it’s around 2 sticks of heart of palm, half a can)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp kala namak/black salt
1/4 tsp ground dried turmeric
2 heads of romaine lettuce
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is great)
1 purple onion, thinly sliced
1 diced avocado
10 halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup of arugula (optional)
1/2 cup thinly sliced radicchio (optional)
1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half.
1/4 cup croutons
1/3 cup wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tsp soy sauce
1/3 cup light oil, I used canola. (or any other salad oil)
1/3 cup olive oil.
splash of water
sea salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/8 tsp of sea salt, and a couple turns of my pepper mill.)
- Dice tofu, toss in oil and a bit of salt, and put in the air fryer at around 375 for 15 minutes. See note for oven instruction.
- In a small bowl or container with a lid, add the nutritional yeast, turmeric, and black salt
- Rinse canned heart of palm with water and slice them in half lengthwise, and then chop them into half circles.
- Mix the sliced hearts of palm with the nutritional yeast mixture, put a lid on it, and give it a shake. Set aside to marinate while you do other steps.
- Thinly slice the purple onion. Sometimes I like to quick pickle the purple onions, but it’s not necessary.
- Chop and wash the lettuce, ensuring it’s well drained
- Optional: toss in a handful of arugula leaves, and thinly sliced radicchio.
- Place lettuce mix in 2 bowls, and arrange toppings.
- Arrange toppings in a way that you like – I usually put onions, olives, hearts of palm, tomatoes, chickpeas, tofu, avocado, and croutons from left to right.
- In a jar with a lid, add all the dressing ingredients, and then shake the jar to mix. I usually just give a small jar of dressing to each person so they can add what they want to.
- If you don’t have an air fryer you can preheat your oven to 375F, dice up the tofu, toss in a tablespoon of corn starch, toss in a tablespoon of oil, and arrange on a sheet pan, bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.
- If you want another amazing recipe to use the rest of your hearts of palm in, try Jessica in the Kitchen’s Vegan Ackee and Saltfish. It’s one of my favourite recipes, and you don’t have to use a whole can to get the effect of the heart of palm “salt fish”
- If you’re looking for a sustainable source of hearts of palm, you can get them from a variety of sources, but Native Forest is my usual go to.
- What’s a salad oil? Any oil from something that isn’t particularly flavourful on its own – something like corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, a very light olive oil, avocado oil, etc.