I had great expectations for “Salad Samurai.” Author Terry Hope Romero promises to “rescue salads from their sucktastic reputation” with her collection of dairy-free, gluten-free, raw-ready and vegan options. While I don’t have any dietary restrictions, I figured my diet (most people’s diets) could benefit from some superfood-fueled fare.

Romero offers salads for every season, including inventive winter options when typical salad ingredients are scarce, and if you are on the lookout for new ways to prepare tempeh and tofu, the first chapter is great.

However, the teeny-tiny font and poorly staged photographs make selecting recipes difficult, and the need to purchase specialty ingredients for each dish is frustrating.

Diligently, I tried salad after salad from this book, trying to find the right choice for this review. Unfortunately, despite the claims of scrumptious, memorable meals, each salad was met by tasters (and me) with furrowed brow and a bemused hmm. True to Romero’s word, I was not bored by the salads I tested, but neither was I particularly impressed.

Romero advertises “Salad Samurai” for “vegans, vegetarians and even omnivores in favor of meatless meals.” Even though I fall into this last category, perhaps I am simply the wrong audience for this book. For me, the cons outweigh the pros of this recipe collection, and the best I can say is it’s certainly not boring.

The recipe below was the first salad I tested, and it was the best one I tried. It is a hearty dish, with a lot of flavor and texture from the lentils and beets. (Heads up: You’ll need smoked salt.) The introductory text suggests this salad is for those who dislike leafy greens, but I found that it didn’t make enough for a meal, so I served it on a bed of spinach.


Gingery Beets and Lentils with Tahini and Agave Nectar

This recipe has a lot of components (although you can make several of them ahead of time). You’ll need to cook the Lentils for Salads component, make a tahini sauce, then a vinaigrette, and finally the beet and lentil salad itself. To make the recipe easier to follow and to reflect the order in which you’d probably cook it, we’ve done some rearranging. The resulting salad, according to Romero, is “pure beet bliss.”

Serves 3 to 4


1 cup firm-textured uncooked lentils (such as black, brown or French)

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon dried thyme


½ teaspoon salt

Combine 2¼ cups water and all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer 40 to 45 minutes until lentils are tender. Cool 20 minutes before using.


½ cup sesame tahini

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 clove garlic, peeled


½ teaspoon salt

Pulse the ingredients together with 2/3 cup cold water in a blender until smooth. Chill 30 minutes to thicken.


½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, mined

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together and set aside until you are ready to use.


1 pound beets, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon smoked salt


2 cups prepared Lentils for Salads

1 large carrot, minced

1 white onion, finely chopped

½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons dark agave nectar or apple-based vegan honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the beets on the parchment, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with smoked salt and toss. Roast for 25 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the lentils, carrot, onion and parsley in a mixing bowl. Pour half the ginger-orange vinaigrette over the lentils and toss. Cover and set aside for the flavors to meld while the beets roast.

To serve the salad, divide the lentil mixture among 3 to 4 bowls, top with the beets and pour the remaining vinaigrette over. Garnish with a generous drizzle of the lemon-tahini dressing and agave nectar.

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