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Friday, May 30, 2014

Random Food Fridays - Soba Slaw

Another beautiful salad for a hot, late Spring day. I know that I post a lot of soups and salads and there is a reason for that - endless variety! And, eat more fruits and veg, yo! Every season offers new freshness to try.
I recently started using Soba noodles. I thought they were gluten free, but many are not. If you are going gluten free, be sure to check the labels. The primary ingredient for Soba is buckwheat. Sometimes they also have yams or soy flour too. They cook up in about 3 minutes. You really have to watch that they don't over cook! If you use them in a salad or plan to add them to a stir fry, undercook them a bit. They have a slightly nutty flavor and hold their shape well. I understand that I haven't even eaten them in the traditional way yet. Usually they are either served cold, with a dipping sauce and toppings. Or, they can be served with a hot broth and toppings. So far, I've used them in salad, stir fries and even with spaghetti sauce. I did pick up some Soba sauce at our local Japanese grocery on my last visit.
For this salad, I used a T-style peeler to shred the carrots and cucumber into long "noodles". There are a number of products you can use to get the same result. But, if you want to use your regular grater, you will still have a delicious, if slightly less stylish, salad. I can't over emphasize the importance of fresh herbs here. You can use any, but I went with a classic South East Asian combo of mint, Thai basil and cilantro. Because I often eat salads for lunch, I like to add a protein to keep me going through the afternoon. Raw cashews are a perfect match for this salad. They add a sweet richness to this fresh and crunchy dish.

I hope that you will give any of my salads a try. More, I hope you will buy some weird thing you've never eaten before and concoct your own magic salads!

Soba Slaw
5 medium carrots, scrubbed and shredded into long pieces
1 English or Japanese cucumber, with peel, washed and shredded to the seed part
1 Cup shredded purple cabbage
1 packet Soba noodles, cooked per package instructions and immediately rinsed in cold water
Big handful of fresh herbs - 1/3 each mint, Thai basil and cilantro - chop larger leaves
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
Raw cashews for serving

Sweet Chili Dressing
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup Mai Ploy sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar

Toss all salad ingredients together, except for the cashews. Combine all the dressing ingredients and toss with the salad. Serve with cashews and additional fresh herbs. Stores well in the fridge. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Random Food Fridays - Green Lentil Salad


Here I am. Life is very lively right now. In the last several weeks, we've been in two car accidents, (we're fine), lost a cousin and a beloved aunt to cancer, worried a bunch about my mom, who fell twice and had a we had a major sea change in our jobs, including a relocation. I'm pooped! On one level, I feel just fine. Most of these worrisome things are not within my control. A very talented healer once told me that our only responsibility is to respond. I've responded, and fairly gracefully too. However, it all takes a toll and my body has been at a high level of edginess for a while. I'm grateful to say that I have had some time for self-care. I've prioritized feeling well over doing well. Yay me!


I've been learning about herbs that help with stress hormones and help the body flush toxins. I got a rebounder so I can get bouncy when the invisible tiger is trying to eat me. I have been preparing a week's worth of healthy lunches on weekends. One such lunch item is this lentil salad. I also took some to a pot luck and it was well received.


This is my first try at using lentils for salad instead of soup. It turned out super yummy, but I could have cooked them a little less. I advise you to gently simmer them for 15 minutes after reaching a boil. I simmered them for 20 minutes and many of them broke open. Still yummy, but not shiny like the lentil salads I've had in restaurants. Beans are a standby for my lunchtime fare. They are full of fiber, minerals, protein and staying power. Most beans take several hours to cook properly. Quick cooking is what makes these little lentils great!

Green Lentil Salad
2 cups dry green lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 small shallot, diced
1 cup diced English cucumber (or other thin-skinned cucumber)
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 rib celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tbsp. bottled tapenade (I one that combined green olives and artichoke hearts)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Avocado
Toasted pepitas
Lettuce

Dressing (recipe follows)

Place the lentils in a sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

Once lentils are cool enough, toss with the veggies and tapenade, except for the lettuce, avocado and pepitas. Toss in about the half the dressing into the salad. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add a little more dressing at serving time.

Serve over lettuce and garnished with avocado and pepitas.

Lemon and White Wine Vinaigrette
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup chardonay vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. grainy mustard
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake like crazy.