BBQ soy curls salad is simply bursting with smoky barbecue flavor with BBQ soy curls and a spicy, smoky oil-free paprika dressing. Add crisp onions, red peppers, salad greens with sweet cherry tomatoes and luscious avocado slices. We’re talking substantial salad meal here.
I’m a newcomer to soy curls and I’ve already become a convert. I’ve learned that when you tell peope your new 1-ingredient alternative to meat, tofu and tempeh you should be prepared for a look of skepticism with a hint of ‘I have no idea what you’re taking about’ and perhaps a glance of ‘whatever you say, dear’. Maybe those folks haven’t heard about soy curls yet, but most certainly many have. The popularity of soy curls is definitely heating up.
A spot of history
The idea of dehydrating soy and selling it commercially has been prevalent since the 1960’s. Textured vegetable protein (TVP), also known as textured soy meat or soy chunks (TSP) have been mainstays in many a vegan or vegetarian kitchen since the 1960’s. My husband chuckled when I announced that I’d discovered game-changing soy curls. He’d been eating variations of them in Britain for decades before the newer ‘cooler’ alternative meat showed up on the market.
Differences between soy curls and TVP
Differences exist between the old school and the new when it comes to dehydrated soy be they chunks (curls), steaks or mince. It’s all in the ingredients and the processing. In the US, Portland-based Butler Foods has become known as the birth place of soy curls. Butler uses only whole non-GMO soybeans in their process. TVP on the other hand can contain up to 50% of other non-soy ingredients such as cotton seeds, wheat and oats. I suppose that counts as a bit of a disruption in that particular market.
I’m convinced, where can I get soy curls?
Butler is the name of the soy curls game in the US. Although initially, purchasing soy curls was limited to ordering directly from the Butler website or Amazon, they are now being stocked more widely at places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target and Walmart.
That said, here in The Netherlands, but we have the exact same product by different producers, just not called soy curls which is a branded name. These are also made from whole, non-GMO soy beans and they starting to appear in more of our local shops. You really can’t keep a good idea down, can you?
Read the label people
Like all things food, label reading is always an imperative. So, before you excitedly purchase something soy curlish, be sure you closely inspect the label. You are looking for a few important things:
- Made from whole, non-GMO soy beans
- ONLY soy beans – no added ingredients
The first step in cooking soy curls is rehydrating. Follow your package directions. Butler, for example, will tell you place the soy curls in warm water for 10 minutes. If you go this route, may I suggest that you replace the water with vegetable broth and a teaspoon of soy sauce or tamari? This will greatly enhance the flavor. Another alternative (the one I use) is to simmer the dried curls in broth, tamari (and any other flavors such as liquid smoke) for about 10 minutes until they are soft.
This is the same process I use for Tempeh in all my recipes from stew to burgers. In the case of Tempeh, I’m not aiming to rehydrate, but to soften and vanquish the bitterness.
Chop, then cook
Once the soy curls get re-hydrating, I like to get prepare everything else which starts with the dressing (which will take all of 5 minutes). Smokey paprika dressing is the perfect place for sweet, minced shallot, although 1 tablespoon of finely minced red onion will serve as an alternative. Don’t forget to give that dressing a shake or whisk right before serving so it doesn’t settle. You won’t get as much separation as you do with oil-based dressings, but it’s always a good idea.
One trick I've learned is to press soaked (or simmered) soy curls gently against the side of your colander once you've drained them. This helps to get more of the moisture out. You can rest them while you make the sauce which I call my quick BBQ fix.
Nothing here, fancy – tamari, tomato paste, maple syrup, cayenne and liquid smoke. We’ll just be mixing it and sauteing our soy curls in it. Done and done. You need just enough cooking time to coat the soy curls in the sauce.
My final touch for the BBQ soy curls is adding nutritional yeast because the nutty, slightly cheesy flavor and creaminess gives the sauce just a little extra something. Nutritional yeast or ‘nooch’, as it’s fondly referred to might look like fish food, but it can give many a plant-based dish a flavor boost.
Nooch can also give your recipes a nutritional boost as its’ loaded with essential vitamins and minerals and in particular B vitamins. A great nutritional option which can enhance the flavor of certain dishes is always a winner in my book. Look for it in health food stores but you may even discover it on a supermarket shelf or two (or more). Perhaps this is another on of those disruptions. I’ll need to check that out.
Creating BBQ soy curls salad was nothing more than a change in the barbecue ingredient for me. I’ve been making a barbecue chickpea salad for years with the same sauce and dressing. This is to say, that you can also make this recipe using chickpeas if you don’t have soy curls or you rather have chickpeas. Chickpea, soy curls? Don’t make me choose. I love them both. The soy curls are meatier, but we always have convenient cans of chickpeas. Options always welcome.
Life is full of disruptions. Interruptions that knock us off course, steal precious time and leave us frustrated. Disruptions and the new paths that appear they present are also opportunities. They don’t have to earth shattering either. Maybe a big plate of BBQ soy curls salad given to a friend won’t be the disruption they need to completely change their eating habits, but it’s a disruption for that meal. But what if that small disruption, tips the balance and leads to an intentional and positive change? Your action (call it disruption if you will) creates the opportunity for further intention. Keep chipping away at it. Peace.Print
BBQ soy curls salad
BBQ soy curls salad is a quick winner of a recipe that simply bursts with flavor from the barbecue vegan soy curls to the smoky oil-free paprika dressing.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 2 big plates 1x
- Category: Salads & Bowls
- Cuisine: American
- 1 ½ cups dry soy curls
- 2 cups (470 ml.) vegetable broth
- 1 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
- ½ tsp. liquid smoke
- ½ cup. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. mild prepared mustard
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. salt (optional)
- 6 cups salad greens such as spring mix, baby spinach or chopped romaine
- 1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced in half rings
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin, bite-sized strips
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 medium carrot peeled and cut into bite-sized, thin matchsticks
- ½ cup tomato paste (a 5.5 oz. can will work)
- 2 T soy sauce or tamari
- 2 T maple syrup
- 2 tsp. liquid smoke
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
- Start by rehydrating the soy curls by either mixing 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 tsp. soy sauce and ½ tsp. liquid smoke in a small bowl and stirring in the soy curls. Allow the curls to soak for at least 10 minutes, according to package directions. Alternatively, you can simmer the soy curls in the same liquid ingredients for about 10 minutes.
- While the soy curls rehydrate, make the dressing.
- In a small bowl or jar, combine the apple cider vinegar and prepared mustard and mix them well. Next, add the minced shallot, maple syrup, smoked paprika and salt (if using). Mix well and set aside.
- Prepare the salad ingredients and starting with the greens, lay them out on individual plates. Do not add the dressing until right before serving.
- When the soy curls are re-hydrated, drain them and using a spoon, press them against the side of the colander to get as much moisture out as possible.
- In a small bowl, make the BBQ sauce by combining the tomato paste, soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke and cayenne.
- Heat a skillet and add the soy curls and sauté them for about 2 minutes to allow more moisture to dissipate, add the sauce and mix to completely cover the strips.
- Add 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast to the skillet and mix. Heat everything through (about 3 minutes).
- Add the soy curls to the prepared salads, give the dressing a quick stir and it’s go time.
- As noted above, you can substitute the soy curls for chickpeas. Skip to step 3 of the instructions and after you prepare the BBQ sauce, add 1 can of chickpeas to a heated skillet and saute them for a few minutes until they start to brown. They are a bit noisy when sauteed, so don’t let that put you off. After the chickpeas have started to brown, add the sauce, mix and heat through. Place them on the salads and proceed to the eating part.
- Your options for salad ingredients are only limited by your imagination. Good additions or alternatives include cucumber slices, radishes and sliced green pepper. As for the greens, use any you like such as spinach or chopped romaine.
- Kale is also a great option here. Prepare this before you re-hydrate the soy curls. In a bowl, add 6 cups chopped kale and half the smoky paprika dressing. Massage the kale leaves with the dressing for about a minute and then set it aside. This will help to soften it.
Keywords: BBQ soy curl salad