Thursday, January 24, 2008

Polynesian Salad

DH and I were just in Orlando for a few days. So, we ate more meals in restaurants than we had in quite some time. We were happy to find some new (to us) vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants there. One thing that we noticed though, is that even though many restaurants have vegetarian options, the options often lacked balance. The most common item missing was a protein. Penne pasta topped with pesto and grilled vegetables is not a complete meal; nor is a shepherd's pie that contains only potatoes and vegetables, etc. We found ourselves constantly scanning the menus for (and not finding) a complete vegetarian source of protein.

So we were very happy to find the Dandelion Communitea Cafe, where every meal offered was vegetarian (or could be served vegan) and was nutritious. Not only that, but they also promote OurLando Locally Made, a local business movement that is gaining momentum. See their website for information about the Orlando area food culture.

I am highlighting here two of the items DH and I shared there. At the top is the Polynesian Banana Fantasy Salad. Not only was the salad packed with delicious fruits and vegetables, but it also had several protein sources: walnuts, soy-based dressing, and hummus with whole grain crackers. It was so memorable, I made a salad at home inspired by it. See bottom. Directly above is a photo of Henry's Hearty Chili, which was delicious and packed with vegetables, tofu and kidney beans and optionally topped with cheese.

Polynesian Salad, inspired by Dandelion Communitea Cafe

cucumber, seeded, peeled and chopped
carrot, shredded
celery, sliced
walnuts, roughly chopped
fresh grapes OR raisins OR other dried fruit
slices of banana
unsweetened dry shredded coconut (sprinkled on top as garnish)

Arrange the salad ingredients in bowl or on a plate. Serve with Curry Yogurt Dressing, see below:

Curry Yogurt Dressing, enough for at least four servings of salad

1 7oz container plain unsweetened yogurt (I like using Greek style)
the juice from one small lemon or from half of a large lemon
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey (to taste)
optional: 1 teaspoon mustard to give it a stronger yellow color
optional: milk or soy milk to thin to consistency desired, if needed

Stir together the ingredients. Pour on top of salad or serve on the side for dipping.

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