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Culinary SOS: Tender Greens' happy vegan salad

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Dear SOS: I am eagerly and desperately looking to replicate the most delicious, amazing salad I have ever had. My fiancé and I are regulars at the Tender Greens in Culver City, and we finally tried its best dish on meatless Monday: the happy vegan. It successfully combines the tastiest health foods such as red quinoa salad, green hummus and farro, with toasted hazelnuts, all on one plate. Please help me with the recipe!

Jessica Zi

Los Angeles

Dear Jessica: The happy vegan is a combination of several smaller salads, and Tender Greens was happy to share its recipes, which we've adapted below. The combined salads are perfect fare if you're hosting a gathering, or they can be made separately as you desire.

Tender Greens' happy vegan salad

Total time: 3 hours, 15 minutes, plus cooling times

Servings: 8 to 12

Note: Adapted from Tender Greens.

Farro wheat salad

3 1/2 cups farro

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup sliced baby kale

1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons golden balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

1. Rinse the farro in cold water. Place the farro in a heavy-bottomed pot and cover with fresh cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover loosely and cook the farro until tender, about 20 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked farro with the cranberries, kale and hazelnuts.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes about 8 cups of farro salad.

Bulgur wheat salad (tabbouleh)

2 quarts water

4 cups bulgur wheat

Generous cup diced tomatoes (about 2 tomatoes)

1/3 cup diced red onion

1 cup minced parsley

1/2 cup minced mint

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil.

2. While the water is coming to a boil, spread the bulgur wheat out in a large baking dish. Pour over the water, then cover the dish with plastic wrap. Set the dish aside for 15 minutes so the bulgur can soak up the water, then fluff with a fork and leave the bulgur to cool.

3. When the bulgur is cool, fold in the tomatoes, red onion, parsley and mint. Drizzle over the olive oil, then the lemon juice, and gently fold to combine. Season with 1½ teaspoons salt and three-fourths teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes about 8 cups of bulgur wheat salad.

Fregola (pasta pearls) salad

4 cups fregola pasta

Generous cup diced tomatoes (about 2 tomatoes)

Generous cup diced zucchini

1/4 cup basil-flavored oil

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

Salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the fregola and cook according to the package instructions, until the pasta is al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and spread the pasta out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the tomatoes, zucchini, basil oil and Champagne vinegar. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes about 8 cups of fregola salad.

Green hummus

2 cups spinach

1 cup arugula

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup diced green onion

2 small cloves garlic

1 cup olive oil

4 cups garbanzo beans

1/4 cup lemon juice

Salt and pepper

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the spinach, arugula, cilantro, green onion and garlic. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil, then start to add the beans. (Depending on the size of your processor, the hummus may need to be processed in batches: Remove some of the processed hummus to a large bowl, then continue adding beans to the processor. Fold everything together in the large bowl, flavoring and seasoning as needed.) Add the lemon juice, then season with 1½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes a generous 5 cups of hummus.

Quinoa salad

1 large red beet

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper

3 cups black or red quinoa

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped dill

3 whole radishes, shaved or thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced

1. Roast the beet: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the beet on a sheet of foil and drizzle over 1 teaspoon oil, then season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cover the beet in foil, and roast in the oven until a knife pierces the beet easily, about 1 hour, depending on the thickness and age of the beet. Peel the beet while it's hot, then set aside until cool enough to handle. Finely dice the beet and set aside one-half cup cooked beet for the salad (the rest, if any is left over, can be saved and used as desired).

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating, rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Place the quinoa in the boiling water and cook until it's no longer opaque (the little tendrils will unravel as the quinoa softens). Drain and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. You should have a generous 4 cups quinoa.

3. In a large bowl, toss the quinoa with the remaining one-fourth cup olive oil and lemon juice, then fold in the dill, radishes and cucumber. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes about 8 cups of quinoa salad.

Tender greens with sherry vinaigrette

4 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper

Generous 8 cups mixed tender greens, such as red and green romaine, and freckled romaine

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar with the olive oil and honey, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Place the tender greens in a large bowl and drizzle over enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat (you may not use all of the vinaigrette). Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Each of 12 servings: 1,167 calories; 31 grams protein; 151 grams carbohydrates; 24 grams fiber; 51 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 14 grams sugar; 1,103 mg sodium.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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