Usually when people want to turn their salad into a meal, the first thing that comes to mind is adding grilled chicken breast. Fancy seafood restaurants might offer a skewer of shrimp and some people enjoy the occasional steak/beef salad as well.
For those at home who are looking for a little less preparation, they might want to tip in a can of fish, chop up some hard boiled eggs, heap on a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese, make a yogurt-based dressing, sprinkle in some nuts, crumble in some goat cheese or grate in some parmesan.
Still itching for something different? Here are some vegan protein options that are probably a little bit off your radar:
Gardein seems to be the darling of fake meat these days and from a nutrition standpoint, I'm not really sure why - it's very close to the more established brand, Yves' Veggie Cuisine in that both are primarily made of soy and wheat protein, with most of them loaded with way too much sodium... is it because Gardein has ancient grains?
Based on what I've heard, I think Gardein wins when it comes to taste and texture (and it does help that they have a sexy vegan chef to back it to boot) but although fake meat can be fun, it's a little too high in sodium for me to truly recommend as a salad topping often (though vegans would definitely benefit from the boost of added vitamins and minerals that are more easily found in meats and animal products, such as zinc and vitamin B12.)
What Yves' does have over Gardein, however, is that it makes more "traditional" veggie products, like tofu and this awesome five-grain tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soy product like tofu and miso, but it never became quite as popular because it originated in Indonesia as opposed to China and Japan. Tempeh is different from its "cousins" in that the whole bean is preserved in the fermentation process, resulting in a product that retains some of the original texture of the soybean. I like how you can still catch a little whiff of the yeast on the tempeh, but it is very subtle. Tempeh is better known for its distinctive nutty flavour and firmer texture.
I personally like creating a rub for sliced tempeh or tempeh wedges with about 3 parts smoky paprika, 1 part cumin and a pinch of salt, giving it a nice BBQ sort of flavour. Sometimes I'll add a drop of oil to help it stick. I then brown the slices/wedges on both/all sides and add them to the salad. Yummy. I recently finished up a package of tempeh by adding it instead of my usual lentils to some soup, but I haven't actually had the chance to eat the soup yet...
There is a yummy Tofu and Almond Salad over at Appetite for China, but you can easily just pare it down to the tofu part, which not only goes well with salad but pairs well with rice and a vegetable (naturally).
I made it as it is written (sort of, I had to change the proportions a bit because tofu does not sell in 16 oz packages here) but if you're someone like me who likes a bit of a sweet-savoury contrast, I think it would do well with a splash of low-sodium soy sauce or tamari added to it as well.
Adapted from Appetite for China
Makes 4 servings
- 1 package (12 oz/350 g) extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup (60 mL) brown sugar
- ¾ cup (185 mL) water
- Low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, optional
Nutrition Info (per 3 oz/88 g tofu, without soy sauce/tamari): 108 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 15 g carbohydrate (0.2 g fibre, 14 g sugar), 3 g protein, 7 mg sodium.
- In a wok or large skillet, heat cooking oil. Sauté tofu, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and water; bring mixture to simmer while stirring to break up the sugar pieces and avoid scorching. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced, add soy sauce or tamari to taste if desired.