For a vegan, I should probably be a bit ashamed of the fact I’m a salad dodger. I love most vegetables in almost all their forms, roasted or grilled, boiled, mashed, simmered in soup or baked until golden. If you try to hand me a plate full of raw veg though, I’d be convinced you’d mistaken me for a rabbit. Yes I will choke down that raw food monstrosity you push onto my plate if I have to, but go a restaurant specifically to order salad? Oh no no no. No thank you, please pass me the cooked food please. Coleslaw can go to hell, and if you dare present me with just a bed of leaves I’ll remind you that I might be a vegan but I am certainly not on a diet.
This week one of our favourite people came to visit, and the parking situation being what it is on my street she had the choice at lunchtime to drive the two hours back home, or find somewhere in town we could go and leave her car for free. Our criteria for a lunch spot was literally “has free parking”. I wanted somewhere that served at least a couple of vegan options, but seriously, we just wanted to leave the car without having to shell out a fiver before we even sat down. In a moment of clarity, I remembered Earthy.
Earthy Foods is a local shop that essentially sells produce from the stallholders at the Castle Terrace Farmers Market. Most of what is on their shelves and in their fridges comes from Scotland, and what isn’t locally sourced is at least organic. Everything is seasonal; you won’t find strawberries in December or asparagus at Halloween, but what *is* there is as fresh as it gets. If it’s not fair-trade, organic, and ethically sourced, it won’t be here. Oh and the Causewayside branch also happens to have free parking.
Earthy is the only place I have ever been where I have actually had difficulty choosing between the salads, because everything looks so good. There is absolutely nothing bland or resembling rabbit food here; it’s all hearty and healthy and oh-so-very tempting. I would have honestly ordered one of everything if I thought their plates were big enough. My friends nabbed the last two sandwiches, and neither were vegan anyways, so I went for a plate with four salads. Yes, FOUR. I probably can’t name four salads I’ve enjoyed in my whole life before this.
Salad 1: Grilled leeks, wild rice, capers, baby spinach with wholegrain mustard dressing
Salad 2: Spiced cauliflower, picked red onion and chilli
Salad 3: Superfood slaw of red cabbage, carrots, cavalo nero, parsley, garlic, lemon, plums, sesame seeds, red wine vinegar and olive oil
Salad 4: Wild rice with sweet potato, kale, parsley, hazelnuts, chilli and paprika
Imaginative combinations, fresh ingredients, and a well-balanced mix of cooked and raw vegetables made these salads I’d actually *gasp* be happy to eat any day of the week. My favourite was the spiced cauliflower, though they were all delicious. I have no idea why my camera decided to focus on the rocket leaves in this photo, but hey. Art.
I couldn’t resist trying the Indian spiced tomato soup topped with pine nuts, parsley and onion seeds as well, which came with the BIGGEST slice of bread I have ever seen. I played a game of Flatmate vs Bread*, and it was a pretty close call. She actually suggested I get another piece and make a sandwich but I was way too full after my salad binge to even face it.
* No flatmates were harmed or eaten during this lunch