When I used to teach regular cooking classes, one of the questions I would get all the time was ‘how do I cook healthy food for one?’ It would come from someone who lived alone or was trying to cook healthier for themselves, while still cooking for their less vegetable-y enthusiastic family.
I like to think that if I lived alone I would still cook well for myself, but the truth is, I have gotten home, realized I was solo for the night and had popcorn and Netflix for dinner -I totally get it. It’s way more fun to make fun food when you have someone to share in the excitement of it. The same goes for if you’re making beautiful healthy food that no one else is interested in eating; it makes you less inspired to try new, healthy recipes.
Enter the salad for one. This salad is robust and steak knife-worthy, hearty and flavourful and made with lots of veggies and very little air, which is one of the main ingredients in leafier salads. It tastes AWESOME, and is often my lunch –it is definitely a meal in itself.
A head of lettuce can be a commitment and a great deal more perishable than a head of cabbage. All you have to do with cabbage is buy a head at the beginning of the week and slice off a 1” ‘steak’ anytime you feel like salad. If this only happens once a week, your patient cabbage will wait in your fridge without rotting for as long as it takes for you to feel the need for it’s cruciferous charm again (1-2+ weeks). You can even enjoy traditional lettuce-based salads with friends and family between your solo cabbage salad dates.
Cabbage needs decisive textures and flavours to be paired with it, especially when it is a giant slice on your plate that vinaigrette would seep right through. We have paired smooth, rich avocado slices (could avo-cabbage be the new avo-toast?!!!), homemade lemon-y hemp and cashew ailoli (garlic mayo-minus the oil and eggs, plus the hemp and cashew), parsley (because it is so fine and green and delicate, so unlike the cabbage and so classically delicious with the garlic and lemon). And can we talk about these chickpeas for a sec?
By now we’ve all seen chickpea croutons before (like in this caesar salad) but have you seen smashed chickpeas croutons? I stole the idea from one of my fave foods –smashed potatoes. Same exact idea, squashing the cooked chickpeas with the bottom of a heavy glass before you roast them gives them all kinds of new crunchy texture. It also creates more cracks and crevices for the spices to go, making them even more flavourful.
You can easily make a batch, store them in your fridge (for 3-4 days) and then reheat them in the toaster oven to add to your salad (or spoil your dinner by snacking on them while you prepare dinner…) These croutons add a crunch that is different from the watery cabbage crunch, as well as some warmth and umami to the salad.
The good news is this salad doesn’t just have to be for one. Chances are (unless you live alone) people are going to take notice of your loving salad-y gesture towards yourself and want a piece of the action.
It is easily translated to a salad for 2 or 3, or even 4 (or more!). You may even start using up the cabbages in your fridge that were meant to be made into sauerkraut, because some vegetable-unenthusiast is suddenly liking the look of your salad and would like one for themselves. It happens. Teach them to make it for themselves (so that they can make it for you too, obviously) but also so that they too will always have a healthy go-to when they know that popcorn is not the answer.
- 1 x 1 inch Slice of Red Cabbage (or green, napa or savoy cabbage, or radicchio)
- ½ Avocado, cut into slices
- ¼ c Italian Parsley, cut into pieces
- 1½ c cooked Chickpeas
- ½ tsp Dried Garlic
- ¼ tsp Turmeric, dried (1/2 tsp if using fresh)
- Several grinds of Black Pepper (to enhance turmeric absorption)
- 2 tsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Sea(weed) Salt to taste
- ¼ c Cashews, soaked for 8-12 hours, drained and rinsed
- ¼ c Hemp Hearts
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- Zest of one Lemon
- 1-3 Garlic Cloves
- ¼ c Water
- Smear a little bit of aioli on the bottom of a plate.
- Place a 1" thick slice of cabbage on top.
- Spread some more aioli on top.
- Arrange the Avocado on top of the cabbage/aioli.
- Top with smashed chickpeas and parsley.
- Preheat the oven to 325*F
- Toss the chickpeas with the rest of the ingredients (melt the coconut oil if it's solid)
- Lay out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- With the bottom of a heavy glass, carefully squish the chickpeas on the sheet (removing them from the bottom of the glass each time if they stick).
- Spread them out and bake for 20 minutes.
- Use right away and store extras in the fridge.
- Blend all ingredients in a blender until very, very smooth.