Green Monster Salad (Collards and Spinach with Avocado, Sun Dried Tomato, and Broccoli)

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Who among us doesn’t remember the fateful day when my friend Angela started the “Green Monster Movement”? That was an initiative to get more folks to discover the joys of green smoothies, and it worked: we all watched with smiles as testimonials of green breakfasts popped up all over the internet!

I’ve had a couple of green smoothies myself this week, but as always, my favorite way to get my green on is by chewing, not sipping. And my favorite thing to chew is an outlandishly sized salad. Last week, as I prepared to head back to DC for the new semester, I whipped up the following mountain of green at my Mom’s place:

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Collards, spinach, broccoli, avocado—this salad spares no expense. Talk about a green monster! These are my favorite kinds of lunches, and they always leave me satisfied. This particular salad went nicely with my zaatar crackers from Gingersnaps:

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A lot of texture and flavor in one spread.

I know that many of you have said that you like to see my MSS (meal sized salads) lately, so here’s the recipe for this one.

Green Monster Salad (Collards and Spinach with Avocado, Sun Dried Tomato, and Broccoli) (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1 hungry diner

2 1/2 cups thinly sliced raw collard greens (about 3-4 leaves)
2 heaping cups baby spinach
6-7 sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces and steamed lightly OR raw
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red cabbage, diced
1/2 large avocado, diced

For the collard marinade:

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp flax or olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
Dash Salt

For the salad dressing:

Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp flax or olive oil (optional)
Small drizzle of maple syrup or agave (optional)

1) Marinade your collards. This step is not necessary for the whole recipe, but I think it improves it. Raw collards can be a little tough to handle, even in a delicious salad! Cut your collard leaves into “Ribbons” by removing the stems, bundling them up, and slicing thinly with a good knife.

Place in marinade of ACV, oil, maple syrup, and sat for about 1-2 hours. Drain and set aside.

2) Mix all salad veggies together in a large mixing bowl.

3) This salad gets a lot of fat and creaminess from the avocado, sweetness from the collard marinade, and salt from the sundried tomatoes, so a traditional “dressing” isn’t really needed. I like to top it simply with balsamic vinegar (or white balsamic, or fig vinegar) and then mix it with my hands, so that the avocado smooshes into everything. I often add the tiniest drizzle of agave or maple syrup. And if your avocado was a little small, and you’re not getting the creaminess you need here, add about a tsp of flax oil, too!

4) Enjoy!!

So much taste, texture, and flavor!!! Plus, a heaping pile of healthy green veggies.

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So, friends, I made it! Day 1 of the new semester is behind me. Orgo II was terribly intimidating, but I was ready for that. And my schedule, while still intense, is actually much more convenient than last semester’s. So hopefully I’ll have an hour or two more of free time each week.

Before I go, I wanted to point out something Heather said in response to my post on admirable resolutions for 2012, which linked to Jasmin’s 10 questions activists should be asking themselves. She said,

Being in school and holding down two jobs, I often feel guilty because I don’t do nearly as much as I should for animal activism. For now, I’m trying to focus on the little things that matter. For instance at Wildflour vegan bakery, the owner’s golden lab (Henry!) is always outside. I make sure to pet him for a minute or so and talk to him. Maybe someone will walk by and think twice about being more compassionate to animals.

Heather, I can certainly relate to feeling as though there’s barely time in a day to shower, let alone be an activist. But you make a great point: showing compassion and care to animals does not only take the form of activism. And activism itself often resides in small acts of kindness (this is a point that I think Jasmin and Mariann make beautifully in their work).

We should all labor to help animals through blogging, protesting, writing, teaching, working, cooking, and other activities to which we can lend effort and talent. But doing those things doesn’t mean that we can (or should) forget to show compassion and friendship to animals through petting, playing, and communicating. Not only does this help us to establish a bond of respect with our animal neighbors, but it is also a form of activism (as Heather so smartly suggests) because it can make an impression upon other people who might not be inclined to notice animals in their daily life.

My best friend at school has two companion cats. I’m allergic, but only mildly, and this semester, I’m going to make an effort to say hi to them and play with them a little more. I’m also overdue to visit Hamlet, who is likely keeping warm in the hay this winter at Poplar Springs.


Simple acts of kindness go a long way.


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Categories: Salads

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  1. My daughters have changed the name of the salad in our home to the “salad of many colors” after they recently studied Joseph and his coat of many colors in the Bible!

  2. This salad was absolutely amazing! My 8 and 10 year daughters loved the salad. My girls have been following their mom with a vegan diet for the last 4 years. I try my best to keep our vegan diet exciting and full of flavor….. N this salad was Huge hit in our home!

  3. This salad was DIVINE. I saw some baby collards in the shop and remembered this post, and whipped em right off the shelf. Sometimes I am not sure if a salad post or a smoothie post is superfluous, as the way I see it, you bung everything into a blender, or into a bowl and as long as the dressing is great, you cannot go wrong.
    But yes, certain combos seem to marry well. I just loved it. I added celery, and I used thawed (room temp)frozen broc as it was all I had- squeeeeze that icky water out,mind!
    Delicious. Raw collards.Awesome!

  4. Definitely putting some avo and sundried tomatoes in tomorrow’s salad. SPeaking to the activism question: I think that if all we have time for is being a healthy, happy vegan that is plenty of activism. Of course, the more I can do the better I feel, but showing people this lifestyle and answering questions with compassion can make a person think twice about where their food comes from!

  5. Thanks for the shout out, Gena! I appreciate you mentioning the “softer side” of animal activism. I’m excited to become more involved in the future and I can’t wait to read about your new visit with Hamlet!

  6. Beautiful salad and just the type of inspiration I’m looking for!

    Additionally, have you ever tried to make “pancakes” incorporating juice pulp?

  7. Delicious looking salad. I love huge salads for lunch, it’s filling without making me feel sleepy or lethargic. My only issue is that my meal-sized salads fit a serving bowl so they’re kinda hard to pack for the office, haha.

    I’m considering buying this bad boy because I have a friend that raves about it and it really will hold a huge salad:

    But I’m wondering if anyone else has packing suggestions.

  8. Woooot! One day down, one day closer to becoming Wonder Vegan Doctor Woman! Hurrah!

    Like you, I prefer chewing my greens to sipping, and love the complexity yet simpleness of this salad in terms of flavour vs. preparation. Gorgeous.

  9. Hamlet is awesome…. I was obsessed with pigs as a child – I decided to stop eating them when I was 9… “Babe” was my favourite movie for years – what amazing creature 🙂

  10. I love the salad Gena! But what I love even more in this post is your words on kindness to animals and how, as Heather also mentions, this is a form of activism. I am an animal lover and always strive to show compassion and care towards the animals I encounter in my daily life and I find it really positive to think of it in this light. Like you, I have a mild cat allergy and whilst I am kind to my boyfriend’s cat, I definitely don’t shower it with as much affection as I could. Thank you for drawing my attention to this… I too will make an effort to show a bit more love to the cat!

  11. I love Green Monster Salads! I am eating one as we speak out of a giant mixing bowl: mixed greens, cabbage, tomato, avocado, corn, pinto beans, nooch, lemon, vegenaise, jalapeno, and chipotle all stirred into a big green(ish) mess. My activism is typically in my everyday actions and speech. When people ask about the healthy vegan food I am eating, I always discuss my reasons for choosing it and express how much I love it. I always rave about veg restaurants or dishes, and I bring vegan food to potlucks and if anyone compliments I say something about how it is vegan. Same for my pair of awesome red vegan boots that always get compliments. If I am evaluating a menu or shopping for clothing, I give a running commentary about “ooh, that’s too bad, I love this, I wish it didn’t have this leather/meat so I could buy it”, frequently so that the storekeeper or workers can hear.

  12. I was planning on making a collard salad tonight and this looks perfect! Pretty sure I have everything on hand already.

  13. Love your gorgeous salad!

    Love your Hamlet a little more 😉 I’m forever grateful to you and Hamlet because reading about your relationship led me to sponsoring Clover the goat at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary….which then led me to serving on the board of directors for WFAS. One person’s “every little bit counts” can lead to another person’s very major shift in consciousness and purpose.

  14. I just got some sundrieds. I’ll try to save a few for a variation of this salad (some of those veggies I can do right now). I like the idea of collard ribbons, we have some that are waiting to be used up. I also like to make collards into chips like kale chips.

    Thanks for the reminder that small things are important too for activism. Sometimes just rescuing a companion animal or convincing someone else to adopt rather than shop seems little, but it’s a life you saved. Even cooking someone else a vegan meal means one less animal they ate. It all adds up.

  15. I’ve always loved that pic of you with Hamlet. Thanks for the refresher.

    Angela and the G.M.M. Blast from the past. I remember the days when every blog I went to was blending up something green. Fun memories.

    And activism…walking the walk, living what you believe is true and right; that’s all any of can do many times, and that’s enough. Are you curing world cancer? No. But does change start with just one person, with simple tasks and actions? Yes, absolutely. We can’t and shouldn’t beat ourselves up for ‘not doing enough’ as we are all doing the best we can I think 🙂

  16. Great green monster salad! I am green with envy over the way you know how to pair veggies, tastes and textures so beautifully. 😉

    Thanks for bringing light to the idea that taking time to be with our companion animals is a way we can express our passion for animal rights. I too get busy with my graduate school work, two part time jobs, church, trying to maintain a social life, volunteer work, animal activism etc. and I often don’t spend as much time with my furred and feathered friends as I should. Thanks for reminding me that taking a moment to scratch my five hens on the back, rub the fur between the ears of my three rabbits and pet the tummy of my dog (all interactions and connections these animals request through their body language) is just as important as dropping off vegan food to my local food pantry, donating vegan-friendly books to my library, or writing to legislators and newspapers regarding animal rights issues. Not only do these interactions exude compassion and kindness towards all animals, but they help recharge and energize activists to keep up the important work they undertake for animals.

    Good luck with your next semester of pre-med course work! I’ll be fully able to commiserate next week when classes start for my masters program.

  17. This salad looks wonderful, all your salads are gorgeous! But this one sounds like a perfect dinner for me tonight. 🙂

    Great points on animal activism, I feel guilty for not having a lot of time lately too and miss my volunteering days from college. But we do what we can.

  18. Gorgeous salad! How is it that I have almost exactly those ingredients sitting in my fridge right now? Guess what I’m having for dinner. 🙂

    I love your post today on daily compassion to our animals. I was just thinking about a similar idea last night, as I played with my cat and thought about when I made the connection that my pet was no different than the animal on my plate. Thanks for your thought-provoking posts as always Gena. One of my goals for 2012 is to become more of an activist and your writing is just the inspiration I need. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do (among so many choices) and I find that I can get overwhelmed. Off to check out the article…

  19. Your salad looks so great! Sun dried tomatoes add such punch. I agree with your “simple acts of animal protection” ideas. Just being compassionate to one other living being is more than most people do in their daily lives. And it is one more act of compassion into the world, as opposed to one more act of violence.

  20. The combination of all the greens look oh so good. I bet it taste great with a little sweetness from the agave and tartness from the vinegar. I never thought of putting agave in dressing. I will have to try it then.

  21. Oh my gosh, I love Hamlet! He is soooo cute! It was actually my love of pigs that got me started on a whole foods plant based lifestyle. I just couldn’t stand the idea of eating cute little piggies anymore. I read Eating Animals and that was the end of all things animal based for me. Everytime some one questioned my choices, I’d say, “I’m doing it for the piggies.” 🙂

    And that salad! You had me at sundried tomatoes and avocado!