Drag Me Through the Garden

Quarantine conditions challenged many long-held beliefs about food in ways I could never have expected. Forcing creativity when it came to common substitutions, shortages wreaked havoc on once simple recipes. Unexpectedly, the very nature of that flexible approach to cooking broke down some long-held barriers against certain ingredients. There’s no room for food snobbery when the alternative is to forgo dinner altogether.

In short order, as supplies dwindled and deliveries remained scarce, I found myself pickling watermelon rind and using pancake mix in lieu of all-purpose flour. Proving myself the ultimate hypocrite, however, was the now legendary Hot Dog Salad.

Yes, coming from the woman who adamantly, loudly, and publicly denounced using hot dogs as an ingredient in any fashion is now doing just that. Hot dogs have always loomed large in family lore, thanks to my dad’s historic penchant for the tube meat, but I bristled at the thought of having them appear anywhere outside of a bun. It’s not that I dislike the concept or flavor altogether, but I stubbornly refused to consider their culinary potential beyond their intended form. They did not belong in sticky-sweet baked beans, certainly not in otherwise unassailable mac and cheese, and god forbid some hapless cook try to embrace the wieners in full vintage style.

The image of that jiggling block of aspic alone has given me vicarious PTSD.

In any event, after 5 weeks without tofu, tempeh, or seitan, beans alone start to lose their luster. Meatless franks, in all their high protein glory, suddenly looked a whole lot more appealing for their culinary potential.

Inspired by the most vegetative form of traditional hot dog prep possible, this Chicago dog isn’t just dragged through the garden, but fully ensconced in it. Sliced thinly, crispy around the edges, tender in the center, the pieces take on a quality not unlike thick-cut Canadian bacon. No longer swaddled in a fluffy bun but topped by it, the bread is instead toasted with celery salt seasoning, turning into croutons flavorful enough to grace any leafy masterpiece. All the classic vegetable additions are accounted for of course, multiplied to fill the plate with verdant abundance. Finish it off with a drizzle of tangy, mustard-infused poppy seed dressing for the full effect, knocking this one clear out of the ballpark.

Forget what they once were, what they were intended to represent, and just accept them as they are: Delicious.

If I can just hold on to one last crumb of food snobbery, though…. Please, hold the ketchup.

Yield: Makes 2 Servings

Chicago Dog Garden Salad

Chicago Dog Garden Salad

Think outside the hot dog bun! Sliced thinly, crispy around the edges, tender in the center, meatless franks take on a toothsome quality not unlike thick-cut Canadian bacon. All the classic vegetable additions of a Chicago-style dog are accounted for, multiplied to fill the plate with abundance. Finish it off with a drizzle of mustard-infused poppy seed dressing for the full effect.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


Hot Dog Bun Croutons:

  • 2 Hot Dog Buns
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Celery Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Parsley Flakes
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Hot Dog Salad:

  • 2 Meatless Hot Dogs, Sliced
  • 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Cups Shredded Green Cabbage
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1/4 Cup Yellow or White Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1/4 Cup Dill Pickles, Diced
  • 2 Yellow Wax Peppers or 1 Jalapeno, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Cup Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Halved

Mustard Poppy Seed Dressing

  • 1/4 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Poppy Seeds
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt


    1. Beginning with the croutons, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Slice the buns into 1-inch cube using a very sharp serrated knife. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the seasonings all over and stir well, distributing them as evenly as possible. Once fully coated, transfer the cubes to an ungreased baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer.
    3. Bake for 14 - 16 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until golden brown all over. Let cool.
    4. Meanwhile, for the salad itself, toss the sliced vegan hot dogs with olive oil and spread out in a single layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for 12- 15 minutes, until crispy around the edges and slightly puffed in the centers. Let cool.
    5. In a large bowl, toss together the shredded cabbage, carrots, pickles, peppers, and tomatoes. Add in the crispy croutons and hot dog pieces, mixing to combine and evenly distribute all the components throughout. Divide between two plates or bowls.
    6. For the dressing, simply whisk everything together until smooth. Drizzle on top of the salads as desired.


The dressing can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled if desired and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 804Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 1680mgCarbohydrates: 83gFiber: 11gSugar: 40gProtein: 24g

4 thoughts on “Drag Me Through the Garden

  1. Very creative. We find ourself doing the same thing. Holding a can of beans in our hand and wondering how can we make this into a gourmet dinner. There is not a scrap that goes to waste and we think this is a very good thing.

  2. Now that is what I call being really creative. I eat a Chicago-style hot dog a couple times each year so I know the flavor you were going for. I think you totally achieved it. I think we have all had to learn to be very creative with food of late.

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