Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rainbow Cobb Salad with Coconut Cream Ranch Dressing

 There are no words to explain the joy of truly delicious and creamy ranch salad dressing. During my middle school years, I have vivid memories of being at camp and having limited vegetarian options during mealtime.  However, we had access to a full salad bar and a heavenly ranch dressing that kept me energized through climbing rock walls, riding horses, snorkeling and hiking around Catalina Island off the coast of California.  It was an amazing summer and to this day, ranch dressing reminds me of camp.  Well, flash forward some unmentioned number of years (or decade) and I find myself still hiking, riding horses, and spending summer doing pretty much all the same activities, except the making of friendship bracelets, but hey, the summer isn't over yet!
Recently, I went on a hike to Lena Lake in the Olympic National Forest and was stunned at the views, the lush vegetation and the possibility of mountain goat sightings!  We stopped to look at flowers, slugs, pet puppies, eat vegan food and even did a little yoga.   

It was a wonderful hike, mostly uphill, that let out onto a gorgeous lake covered with floating logs.  Since a friend of mine had inspired me to do more yoga on the go, I embraced the moment and ventured out onto a floating log in the lake. As I searched in the distance for a focal point, struggling not to fall in the water, I finally came to rest in a challenging tree pose.  In that moment, feeling the dance of strength and balance traveling up my legs, through my core and reaching out through my fingertips, I felt grounded in the serenity of yoga. Just like being vegan, yoga teaches us that it is the journey that matters, not the destination.  Our daily choices are moments where we choose to be grateful, to be present and enjoy the ride. We are always learning, always improving and always facing the world with an open heart.  
Being vegan has its restrictions but within these restrictions lie options, replacements and new adventure!  Veganism is not a diet, it is a lifestyle of choice, creativity, and the decision to impact the world in a positive way.  When we embrace life with an open mind, new and exciting things happen. I had been experimenting with raw cashews, tahini, and even tofu but non of these were quite right. Then this happened. A fridge full of fresh herbs, a can of coconut cream, and a light bulb in my vegan culinary brain!!  The result was perfect!  I happily share with you this treasure of a recipe and one of the most satisfying and creamy salads I have enjoyed since going vegan! Coconut cream was just right to replace the buttermilk in traditional ranch dressing. The longer it sat in the fridge, the more the flavor of the herbs overpowered the taste of coconut until all that remained was a delicious, creamy, herb flavored dressing.
Cobb salad is traditionally served with meats and hard boiled eggs but I thought a little color and veganization was in order! I hope you guys enjoy this Rainbow Cobb Salad with Coconut Cream Ranch Dressing as much as I do!

Coconut Cream Ranch Dressing Ingredients:
1 can coconut cream
2 Tbsp. chives, chopped
4 Tbsp. basil, chopped
3 Tbsp. parsley, chopped (I used curly but Italian will work as well)
2 tsp. dry dill
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. Herbs de Province
1 1/2 tsp. Pink Himalayan Salt
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to blender and blend well. Place in the refrigerator in a covered container overnight to allow the herb flavors to develop and for the coconut flavor to settle and become more mild. It will thicken as it cools so if you plan to use this as dip then it is ready to eat straight from the fridge. For a dressing, allow the ranch to come to room temperature before serving. If you want it a little less thick, toss in the blender and blend for about 20 seconds to warm it up.  You can also add a little water to the blender to thin the dressing if you like but this will dilute the flavor a bit.
Rainbow Cobb Salad Ingredients (Serves 4):

6 cups romaine, shredded into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup beet, red or golden, peeled and diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
1/4 cup red onion, cut into slivers
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup tomato, seeded, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
To Serve: Layer a bed of romaine on each plate, to that add a small amount of all veggies and sprouts and drop about 2-3 Tbsp. of dressing on each plate. Lightly toss and enjoy! Of course, this salad can be enjoyed with any assortment of vegetables, sprouts or microgreens that you might have on hand.  The ones used in this recipe are my favorites but salads are versatile and it is always best to use what you have on hand, what is organic, and what is in season. The possibilities are endless and the rich colors and flavors of this salad are sure to satisfy year round!

Thank you for stopping by the Venturing Vegan Blog! Happy eating!

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