Toss Your Own Salad, In This Case It’s Charred Cauliflower and Chickpea Quinoa Salad

I’m pretty picky about cookbooks. Occasionally, I will come across one that I adore. However, most of the time, I’m ambivalent–using just a few of the recipes. But a book titled Toss Your Own Salad? How could I say no? So I made charred cauliflower and chickpea quinoa salad  to go with it, and I’ll just eat some while I write, cool?

Toss Your Own Salad reads like a story and eats like a fucking champion. Imagine if your very sarcastic, hilarious, asshole cousin decided to go vegetarian and tell you all about it after leaving the NYPD. You don’t think it could happen?

The author’s name is Eddie McNamara, he’s from Brooklyn, and he was in the NYPD, he’s someone’s fucking cousin. I know this, not because I know him, but after being married to a New York City cop, living in Brooklyn, and, well, existing–I know this. Even if they aren’t blood, this dude has cousins. Lots of them. One of them might be you–you never know. As for the going vegetarian part, well, that’s a tougher road to travel. But this book gives me so much hope, all of it in fact, that the NYPD can turn its shit around and eat healthier, (do not ask me how many cookies I’ve sent in for the officers because I will lie) and maybe, that will flush out all of the fucks.

I can dream. But that’s a story for another day with a very angry blog post about the culture of things and shitty compensation luring shitty people and this is a blog post about delicious delicious vegetables and my new imaginary BFF, Eddie McNamara.

I heard about this book through a mutual friend of ours, Allison Robicelli. She tagged me in a pre-order post and was like “bitch, we have all lived parallel lives and you fucking need to read this shit, it will blow your mind I swear on my cat’s missing balls.” (I’m paraphrasing, but it was similar.) You may remember that her cupcake book was easily one of my all-time favorite BOOKS, not just because it taught me how to make a killer French buttercream, but because that woman can WRITE–so much so that her happy ass was nominated for a MOTHERFUCKING JAMES BEARD AWARD FOR WRITING OMG IS THIS REAL LIFE?

She wasn’t wrong. All three of our families have been through the NYC police/EMT 9/11 PTSD survival shitshow. It’s not a particularly well-lit path, even though you’d think with how many families like ours there are (were), it would be easier to find others, but it’s not. It’s not a straight-line to normal. It’s the topographic map of the Himalayas and there are only a few rest stops. No one carries your load for you, and sometimes, it’s crushing. But for those of us who have mostly made it out on the other side, we’re grabbing life by the damn balls (sorry, Allison’s cat, you’ll have to find something else to grab) and living. Hell, there have been times where sleeping through the night was more than some could handle, so writing a motherfucking cookbook/blog?

yeah. it’s a big deal.

And boy howdy, is this a cookbook. Toss Your Own Salad is filled with amazing recipes, pictures, and insights that are given in a way that don’t make you feel like you’re starting from Ground Zero, even if the author absolutely did. It’s an approachable humor and workable text that will help you gain confidence in the kitchen and inspire you to think of vegetables as way more than just a side dish. Eddie McNamara crafted a gem of a cookbook that makes it abundantly clear that it’s not just a vegetarian cookbook, it’s a fucking awesome book that happens to be full of vegetarian recipes so good they’ll make you grateful that G-d made the dirt to grow it in.

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He also agrees with me on one very specific point, (Even if I do use it here on the blog because people always ask me the equivalent of it from chopped garlic.)

Garlic powder is the universal symbol of bad cooking in a shaker jar.

And this little nugget of yes:

When I say “salty water” in a recipe, I mean salty like the tears you cried when Hodor held the door.


He also gives credit where credit is fucking due:

Some jerk once said “you don’t win friends with salad.” They obviously didn’t know me…

Or me. In his book, he has many recipes for awesome salads, like the aptly named “Motel 6 Salad” which is a play on the Waldorf, or his watermelon salad that’s anything but basic. He also has recipes for quinoa and cauliflower that are off the damned hook. So I got inspired and made my own, because if you want his, you’ll have to buy your own fucking copy of his book.  And please, use my links–they’re definitely affiliate even though I bought this copy all on my freaking own.

Charred Cauliflower and Chickpea Quinoa Salad

You’ll see I’ve shoved mine in a jar with lettuce. This wasn’t done for the pictures–entirely. It was also done so I could just shove it onto a plate and gorge for a few days of delicious noms. Don’t believe me? Check my instagram.

charred cauliflower and chickpea quinoa salad
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What Goes In?

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 2 cups chopped blanched green beans
  • 2 cups chopped blanched carrots
  • 1 can drained chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (or whatever you like. Dill would work, so would parsley)
  • 1 1/3 cup veggie or mushroom stock
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic for quinoa
  • 1 tbsp evoo for quinoa cooking
  • 1 tbsp evoo for cauliflower charring
  • salt and pepper
  • for the dressing
  • 1/3 cup cup evoo
  • 1 tbsp vegan mayo
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • drizzle of honey or agave (NOT MAPLE)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Avengers, Assemble!

  1. rinse and drain quinoa
  2. preheat boiler to medium
  3. add 1 tbsp evoo, onion, and garlic to a medium stockpot set to medium
  4. add in quinoa and stir until you start to hear popping
  5. add stock
  6. bring to boil
  7. cover and set to low, cooking approximately 20 minutes
  8. fluff with fork
  9. while quinoa is cooking
  10. chop the cauliflower into little bites
  11. toss with 1 tbsp evoo, salt and pepper
  12. spread evenly on cookie sheet
  13. cook under broiler tossing every five minutes until charred
  14. BLANCHE and SHOCK in ice water the green beans and carrots
  16. combine dressing ingredients in a bowl
  17. add everything back to the bowl and toss
  18. stores well for at least 3 days in an airtight container


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