Have you ever eaten something that was so good you found yourself thinking about it later? Daydreaming about it? Considering leaving work early just so you could eat it? This happened to me recently. But it didn’t have anything to do with chocolate (believe it or not). It was salad. I know it doesn’t make sense. But this salad is REALLY good.
It all started on a recent trip to Florida with friends. We took turns cooking a meal in the evening to save money. One of the ladies prepared a wonderful salad made with berries, feta cheese, and chicken. It was hands down one of the best salads I’ve ever had. So when I got home I decided I needed to make a vegan version of this salad so I could continue to enjoy it. While the chicken was a nice addition, I knew I could live without that, especially because there are nuts on the salad (which I will get to in a minute). But the feta cheese…that was a whole other thing.
I’ve only had feta a few other times in my life, so I can’t say I’m a huge feta fan, but it definitely is the shining star of this salad. I started scouring recipe sites looking for a vegan feta cheese recipe. I found one with great reviews and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed at all! This vegan feta recipe is from Happy Herbivore. It’s a tofu-based, low fat recipe. I followed the recipe exactly except used balsamic instead of red wine vinegar (it’s all I had on hand), and I used a basic Italian seasoning blend because I didn’t have all of the spices on hand individually. The recipe makes a nice amount; I ended up getting six large servings out of mine. Here’s a look at the finished feta by itself.
Now on to the other star of this salad: honey nuts. The original salad I ate had honey roasted peanuts on it — the kind you buy in a jar. And you could certainly do that on this salad. But I wanted something a little more healthy so I created my own version. I simply chopped almonds and cashews in a food processor. Then I added a tablespoon of honey and a bit of salt and stirred it well. I put the mixture in the skillet and let it brown up, stirring regularly. Woah! Seriously good stuff. These honey nuts make an excellent addition to salad and I’m sure would be great on other things, like ice cream! And of course they’re great to munch on all by themselves.
This salad really is simple, but it’s amazing how the flavors work together. We’re now getting fresh, local strawberries here in Michigan and this salad is a great way to highlight them. I used to think it was so weird when people put fruit on salad, but sometimes you just have to be open to trying something new to realize how good it is!
There is no dressing for this salad, only a squeeze of fresh lemon. And yes, I think it needs to be fresh. The taste is just so much better. If you wanted to add a drizzle of olive oil, you could, but I liked it just fine without it.
I made this salad two nights in a row it was so good (and my official taste testers agreed). I don’t use tofu a lot, but I just bought more over the weekend so I can make the feta cheese again. I’m already dreaming about the next salad…
- Lettuce (I used spring mix)
- Berries (can use one kind or an assortment - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
- Vegan feta cheese
- Honey nuts (see instructions)
- Fresh lemon juice
- There are no measurements here because it really depends on how much salad you want to make. Simply layer the ingredients together. I did lettuce, berries, nuts, and cheese, then added the fresh lemon (I used one lemon for three large salads).
- To make the honey nuts, coarsely chop ⅔ cup almonds and ⅓ cup cashews in a food processor (you can use any variety of nuts you want). Put the nuts in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of honey and a scant ⅛ tsp. salt (or less), and mix well. You want to make sure the nuts are all coated. Transfer to a small skillet over medium heat. Allow them to brown slightly, stirring regularly (don't let them burn). You could also roast them in the oven; I chose to do it on the stove because it was faster. This is enough nuts for several salads...and for snacking, too!