I know if I say it’s cold here in Southern California (sometimes as low as 40 degrees in the morning) my East Coast friends will laugh at me, but it’s all relative. I am in full-blown soup mode this time of year and I can’t get enough of incredibly healthy meals disguised as comfort foods. I also can’t get enough of Gardein products like their beefless tips. They can be used as a beef substitute in your favorite recipes and still give you that satisfying “full” feeling with healthy plant-based proteins.
I love Gardein brand because their products are all vegan, the quality is excellent and while they taste perfect on their own they can be the basis for building a masterpiece of your own. These orange chick’n wraps start with a hearty protein base from the Gardein product which includes a perfect orange sauce that can be heated in three minutes. You’ve just saved some serious time.
Then just chop and add fresh, colorful toppings like carrots, cilantro, green onions, and you’ve brightened up the flavor and color of your dish. The chick’n product tastes like the real deal and has a great crunchy coating right out of the oven. You can also pan fry it, but you save calories by baking it. I added a can of water chestnuts (drained, rinsed and chopped), a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat and slivered almonds for crunch. So when you’re short on time–and who isn’t–go for an “almost homemade” meal and prepare to impress.
What I love most about this recipe is the contrast of the hot Gardein brand beef-less tips and the cold crisp salad, not unlike an autumn day in Southern California that starts of cold and crisp, then turns warm and toasty as the day progresses. In other words, the best of both worlds.
To me, the term “almost homemade” means purchasing a quality prepared ingredient, then making it my own with fresh produce, herbs and spices. You can easily customize this Gardein product by using any seasonings you choose and because it’s a top quality product, you don’t have to “mask” the flavor in any way. By simply adding salt, pepper, garlic and green onions, you can make this a perfectly seasoned protein, perfectly matched to the kale, one of the more hearty salad greens. The texture is perfect. The cranberry vinaigrette adds a surprising fresh flavor and acidity.
Another dressing I’ve tried with this salad is so simple. I take leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving and add cranberry juice. Blend it with a blender or food processor until it is the consistency of dressing – it’s so delicious with little or no fat depending on how you make your cranberry dressing.
These ingredients work together beautifully in terms of taste, color and texture. It’s the perfect salad for an autumn day. Enjoy.