While driving back from Omaha, we stopped on our way through Des Moines for an early dinner at P.F. Chang’s. I can’t think of any other chain restaurants that we visit, because chains tend to have very lackluster vegan options. However, we usually stop by P.F. Chang’s a couple of times a year. It can be a very handy choice when dining with a variety of eaters, especially with people who are hesitant to dine at an exclusively vegan restaurant.
The previous time that I had visited they had a terrific kale salad on special. I was hoping they’d have it again, but it was no longer offered. However, in its place on the specials menu was an heirloom tomato salad.
The salad (shown in the mustard-colored bowl) was made with fresh tomatoes, avocado, Thai basil, and a ponzu dressing. I asked my server to verify with the chef that the salad was vegan. While we waited for the answer, David did a quick search on his phone to find out more about ponzu sauce and saw that it’s a citrus seasoned soy sauce. The server came back and said that the dish was vegan, and on the P.F. Chang’s website, they list the dish as vegetarian.
(In preparation for writing this post, I did a bit more searching and saw that some bottled ponzu sauces, like the Kikkoman brand, have fish extract in them. However, I called P.F. Changs headquarters, and they confirmed that the dish was vegetarian and fish-free.)
The ponzu dressing had a pesto flavor because of the fresh basil, and the salad reminded me of a caprese salad but with avocado instead of mozzarella.
With tomatoes being extraordinarily delicious and flavorful right now, I couldn’t wait to recreate it when I got home. I sliced up a couple of juicy tomatoes and added ripe cubed avocado. Instead of making a ponzu sauce, I opted for a balsamic vinaigrette with fresh basil. I topped the salad with more fresh basil and served it with crusty bread, extra virgin olive oil, and dukka for dipping.
It was such a satisfying summer meal, like eating a bowlful of bruschetta. If you’ve been looking for more ways to enjoy your fresh-off-the-vine summer tomatoes, look no further.