♥ Imitation And Flattery

There are two vegan-friendly restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. Now, when I say “vegan-friendly”, I mean that the wait staff are knowledgeable about their menu items and about veganism in general. Specifically, they don’t subject us to nonsense like “but you still eat fish, right?” Both restaurants offers a variety of tempeh and tofu alternatives in most of their entrees.

During the summer months, we love the rooftop dining at Freshies with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  And Barbie’s wedding, Tahoe style, on the roof itself.

But, it’s hard to get a table at Freshies with less than an hour wait during the summer months when tourist traffic is the heaviest. And they refuse to take a dinner order to go. I guess being a local repeat customer amounts to nothing in their eyes. Hmph.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe so, but flattery was the furthest thing from my mind when I came up with this copycat of my favorite meal at Freshies. It felt more like necessity, actually. I needed my big salad fix; and I needed it in less than an hour.

First, the appetizer: My Tri Fries. Yams, sweet potatoes and Russet potatoes fried up crisp and served with Caribbean spices. These babies are simply addictive. And, luckily, they were easy to replicate. Better still, my version is oven-fried, not deep-fried. The method is simple: toss 3 pounds of the cut potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon of seasoning (I used Walkerswood Dried Jamaican Jerk Seasoning). Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450F for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time.

My take on The Crunch, “the local’s favorite”: layered baby greens, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds. Freshies serves The Crunch with a creamy basil dressing, but it’s made with buttermilk so I always ordered a substitute vegan dressing. I liked the sound of a creamy basil dressing, so I played around and came up with my version, and it has fast become our favorite salad dressing.

♥     ♥     ♥

Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1-1/2 cups


1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Vegenaise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil


Blend all ingredients with a handheld blender until smooth. I like to thin it with a bit of  water before serving.


14 responses to “♥ Imitation And Flattery

  1. Whoa, that salad is over the top awesome! Crunch is a good name for it! Salad and fries is such a perfect balance of naughty and nice…but extra on the nice with your oven-fried version. The basil dressing sounds perfect too. Those beautiful veggie layers are going to be on my mind for days!

  2. Hmmm, a photo of toys in a vegan food blog? Well, okay – I’ll let it go ’cause that Basil dressing looks so good. 😉 I’m not gonna say no to those Tri Fries either – any excuse to break out the ketchup, yum!

  3. I’ve never seen such beautiful, colorful fries before! Love this, and I really want to make a big batch asap.

  4. That salad is gorgeous! Rooftop dining sounds sublime, but that hour long wait is the pits!

  5. Wow. That is one of the most beautiful salads I’ve ever seen! Excellent presentation. 🙂

  6. The fries look better than any pile of fries I’ve seen lately. I think I’ll root through the fridge and see if I can come up with three colors to oven fry tonight! The salad looks like my dream salad. I’m kind of glad you had to re-create this stuff so we can have it too!

  7. OMG, the fries look amazing! Yay for being oven-fried! That is one fancy looking salad! 🙂

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