Composing a Fancy Plants Fall Salad with a Plant-Based Cheese Spread with Chef Mike Wilkins

We will learn to properly cook seasonal vegetables, develop flavour, make a plant-based cheese spread, create a vinaigrette, and learn to plate and compose our salad in a "fancy plants" way. This will involve incorporating texture, acidity, sweetness, and savory qualities into the dish.


Required supplies are listed below in the recipe. 


A composed autumn salad with a plant based boursin style “cheese”

This particular salad is using some of my favourite ingredients. Lots of textures, raw, cooked, warm, cold, sweet sour. It’s a little more work than your average tossed salad but really worth the investment. The apple dressing has about a 1.5-week shelf life and the cashew boursin can last up to 1.5 weeks as well in the fridge and can also be frozen. The pickled cranberries are great on salads as well as charcuterie boards and are also going to last you a long time stored in the fridge.

What makes a composed salad? Well a composed salad is essentially a salad made with more intention, that is arranged rather than tossed together for the purpose of balancing flavours and enhancing presentation. It can also control the way someone eats the dish, based on the way its plated. This usually makes for a more enjoyable and engaging eating experience.


Vegetables for the salad:

4-5 ea              Baby Beets     

1 ea                 Yams, medium diced, simmered till tender or roasted at 350 for 16 minutes approx.                   

1 ea                 Carrots, raw, shaved thinly, stored in cold water for 30 minutes

1 bunch           Salad greens, of your choice really.

(I prefer watercress or frisee for texture and the peppery qualities)

1 ea                 Shaved Fennel, thinly sliced and stored in cold water for 30 minutes

½ cup               Brussels sprouts, crispy (pan fried)

1 cup               Pumpkin Seeds, toasted, candied

small bunch    fresh dill, picked into nice fronds


Apple Miso Dressing

Yield: roughly 2 cups

Equipment necessary: A peeler, paring knife, and a blender of sorts

1/3 cup apple juice

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 ¼ tbsp miso paste, white

1/2 a granny smith apple, peeled, cored

1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground

1.5 tsp lemon juice

1 ¼ tsp apple cider vinegar

¾ cup Canola oil or your favorite neutral flavoured oil


Pickled Cranberries:

Yield: 1 cup

1 cup Craisins, or dried cranberries

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup white vinegar

½ cup water

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar, of your choice

Method: Combine all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 1 minute and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge.


Spice Candied Pumpkin Seeds:

Yield: roughly 1 cup

1 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

2 tbsp maple syrup

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne

¼ tsp cinnamon

Method: Combine all ingredients by hand, folding them around. Spread evening on parchment lined sheet tray and bake at 300F for 10 minutes then toss them around and make sure they are spread evenly. Bake again for additional 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes so maple can set and they will gain some crunch. Store in air tight container in a cool dark place. Higher humidity will cause them to get sticky.


Cashew Boursin Cheese

1 cup raw cashews, boiled for 10 minutes

3 ½ tbsp oat milk (or coconut milk, or almond milk)

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp garlic powder or 5 cloves roasted garlic

1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

salt to taste

3-4 tbsp chopped herbs, dlll, parsley, chive

Method: Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add the cashews and cook for 10 minutes. Let them sit for 5 minutes before straining and letting cashews dry.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the herbs. Blend till smooth or virtually free from any graininess. Fold in the herbs. Place in any shape you’d like, and chill to set the shape.






To Bring/Important Notes



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  • Mike Wilkins

    Born in Toronto and raised in New Jersey, Mike spent 4 years at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York before honing his skills in the wine industry. At 23, he was a sommelier in Vancouver and decided to return to cooking in 2014 when he opened Bacaro, a small tapas lounge, in Kelowna. After Bacaro, Mike spent 2 years as Executive Chef of Krafty Kitchen and the Orchard Room in Kelowna before moving on to the award-winning Vegetarian Restaurant, Frankie We Salute You! which he is now Head Chef at. Mike spends a lot of his time at the restaurant developing plant-based alternatives to meat and showcasing local/seasonal produce from the Okanagan’s farmers and foragers.