Book Club Friday Fun Edition: Mandy’s Gourmet Salads

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Walking by the kitchen one day my husband offhandedly indicates to a cookbook sitting on the counter and says, “That place has good chocolate chip cookies.” Being a chocolate fiend and a cookie connoisseur, of course this is the detail that would stick in his mind! He travels for work sometimes, and often gets to enjoy eating at different restaurants when he does — and bless him, the man never forgets a good cookie! So, before I go any further, I can tell all of you who are wondering: Yes! Yes, the famous cookie recipe has been included in Mandy’s Gourmet Salads cookbook (along with recipes for their delicious salads and myriad dressings).  For those outside the Montréal area or who are unfamiliar with Mandy’s, this is a popular place that specializes in delicious, fresh tossed salads. 

In some ways I’m glad that my husband forgot to mention going to Mandy’s when he was in Montréal because instead of being jealous, I can simply open the book and make us all something delicious! Not to sound repetitive either, in this pandemic year of laying low at home, I welcome the ability to visit other places through the recipes I make. Mandy’s Gourmet Salads by Mandy Wolfe, Rebecca Wolfe, and Meredith Erickson is the culmination of recipes years in the making — back in 2004 when the Wolfe sisters opened their first café, they offered delicious, well-dressed tossed salads. Their popularity grew and, now Mandy’s boasts many locations throughout the Montréal-area, as well as a newly published cookbook beautifully photographed by Alison Slattery (Two Food Photographers) with graphic designs from Sarah Lazar (Cow Goes Moo design studio).

After trying their cookbook, I notice that the salads hit the trifecta of flavour, colour, and texture — always in perfect ratio. For example, the Waldorf Salad is really great — full of toasted walnuts, apples, pear, dried cranberries and, of course, Danish blue cheese, the standout ingredient for me is the Crispy Fried Shallots. Crunchy and sweet, I could eat these shallots on almost anything and, I really like how such a seemingly small ingredient packs such big flavour. The salad is dressed in their Classic Balsamic Dressing, and it’s a dressing that I’ve taken as my own and ensure that I keep a batch in the fridge. While you can totally use the recipes to make their signature salads, I find it useful to be able to prep different components — like the crispy shallots or dressing — for use in other salads or dishes I might make.

The recipes are organized into 5 chapters: Smoothies, Salads, Dressings, Grain Bowls, and Sweets. Their salads include recipes that suit any diet preference, with salad combinations that include meat, poultry or fish as well as vegan and vegetarian options. And, if you’re like me, a salad dressing devotee, then you’ll appreciate the fact that the authors include almost 40 different recipes for “life-changing and habit-forming” dressings. Here’s a tip: you don’t need to use them on just salads! My daughter loves to dip carrots and cucumbers into dressing as a snack, and I feel like a sandwich is incomplete without a liberal splash of dressing.

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R&D Extraordinaire Salad, p. 50

As a little something special, the publisher has given me permission to include a recipe with my review, so that you can enjoy a little of Mandy’s of Montréal for yourself. Even better, I’m including not one but three recipes: R&D Extraordinaire Salad, Homemade Pita Chips, and their delightful Classic Balsamic Dressing. The idea for this salad came from Raegan Steinberg and Danielle Samuelson, who worked at Mandy’s. Steinberg and Samuelson would make a salad containing greens, avocado, cucumber, carrot, strawberries, parmesan, pita chips topped with balsamic dressing with such devotion that it was officially included on the menu! My family and I enjoy the different flavours and textures — creamy avocado, sweet berries, crunchy veg, and a mouth-watering dressing. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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dressing pitas
Excerpted from Mandy’s Gourmet Salads: Recipes for Lettuce and Life by Mandy Wolfe, Rebecca Wolfe, and Meredith Erickson. Copyright © 2020 Mandy Wolfe, Rebecca Wolfe, and Meredith Erickson. Photography © 2020 Alison Slattery, Two Food Photographers. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Appetite by Random House for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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