Peanut, Cabbage, and Sesame Slaw

Usually when I’m making something that can be easily construed as “health food”, I make just one serving.  I’m usually pretty sure that my boyfriend, Jeremy, will not be interested and I’m usually right.  A funny thing happened, though, as this asian-inspired coleslaw sat on the table waiting to be photographed.  Jeremy walked over to it to see what it was.

“Can I have some?” he asked.

“No, I’m not finished taking pictures yet.”

He walked away.  A few minutes later, he’s back in the kitchen.  “Just a bite?”

“No, I’m still working with it… Now, are you messing with me, or do you really want me to make you one of your own?”

His face lit up.  “I want one!”  So I made another bowl of salad just for him and he spent the rest of the day telling me how good it was.  He even asked if I would make one for him every day.  I told him that I couldn’t make that kind of commitment.  But it felt good to be asked.  🙂

Peanut, Cabbage, and Sesame Slaw
makes 4 servings
adapted from The Kitchn

For the dressing:
– 3 Tbsp peanut butter
– 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
– 1 Tbsp soy sauce
– 1 Tbsp sesame oil
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Mix all ingredients with a fork or a whisk until smooth.

For the salad:
– 1 head green cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced
– 3 large carrots, grated
– 4 green onions, thinly sliced
– 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
– a small handful of roasted peanuts

Mix the cabbage, carrots, and green onions together in a large bowl.  Toss with peanut butter dressing until well-mixed.  Top each individual serving with sesame seeds and peanuts.

Asian Kale Salad with Tofu

It wasn’t until I started using kale in salads that I realized that leafy things could really make a satisfying lunch.  In general, I have to admit to not being in love with raw vegetables.  Sure, I’ll snack on some carrots in order to feel healthy and I’ll choke down a restaurant salad if I’ve been overindulging, but the raw things just don’t really tempt me a whole lot.  But there are a few exceptions.

I ate this almost every day last week and was actually disappointed when I ran out of my ingredients.  The combination of kale, marinated tofu, crunchy spring vegetables, and mildly spicy (is that an oxymoron?) dressing made this salad one I could look forward to.  It came together in very little time, making it perfect for a busy first week of the summer school term.  And unlike salads with more delicate leafy greens, I could make this in the morning and it wouldn’t be soggy at lunch.  Excellent.

Let’s talk just a minute about kale.  Kale is a nutritional powerhouse that belongs to the cruciferous family.  It’s an excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C (obligatory nurse-y note: too much Vitamin K can actually be harmful if you’re on an anticoagulant drug like Warfarin…talk to your prescriber before drastically changing you intake of leafy greens) as well as antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.  It’s been shown to have anti-cancer properties and it can assist in lowering cholesterol.  In other words, you should eat it.

Asian Kale Salad with Tofu
serves 1
adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine

Ingredients
– 1 tsp grape seed oil (olive oil would work, too)
– 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
– 2 tsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp honey
– 1 tsp soy sauce
– 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce (I used this kind)
– 3-4 leaves of green kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
– 1/2 cup shredded carrots
– a small handful fresh shelled peas
– 1/4 cucumber, diced
– 3 oz. Thai-flavored baked tofu, sliced (Wildwood brand is fantastic)

Make the dressing.  Combine sesame oil, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with grape seed oil.  Using your hands, “massage” the kale for about a minute until it is softened.  Toss with dressing, carrots, peas, and cucumber.

Plate the salad and top with tofu.

* I shared this salad with Melt in Your Mouth Monday and My Meatless Mondays.

Roasted Vegetables with Red Curry and Coconut Sauce

For some reason, I have recently been reminded of my age at every turn.  In epidemiology class, we were presented with statistics about birth problems related to women over 30 (I’m 27, unmarried, and just don’t see a pregnancy on the horizon…even though every little child I see sends me into “wannabe mommy” mode).  When filling out paperwork, I have to think for several seconds before remembering just what my age is.  And at my annual exam, my healthcare provider told me that I was really getting to the age where I need to be doing my monthly breast exams.  I’ve never been told that before!  I’m investing in more high-quality skincare potions and thinking about when I’ll be ready to take the leap and buy my own house (hint: not anytime soon).  The truth is, that I just thought that I’d have more things figured out by now.

On the bright side, I’m learning to love certain foods that my childhood self would have cringed at.  I now consider olives to be a treat and, just in the last few months, I’ve begun to reconsider the eggplant.  Once a completely unwelcome guest at my table, eggplants are showing up in more and more of my dishes.  It started with my ratatouille and continues with these thai-inspired vegetables.  Of course, the dish is completely malleable to your personal tastes.  If you don’t like eggplant, choose another vegetable you do like or need to clear out of the fridge!  If you’re on the fence about eggplant, give it a try…you may be able to coax out your inner eggplant love!

What foods have you learned to love since childhood?  

Roasted Vegetables with Red Curry and Coconut Sauce
makes 2 servings
adapted from Love and Lemons 

Sauce Ingredients
– 1 Tbsp red curry paste
– 1 Tbsp white miso paste
– 1 Tbsp honey
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1/4 cup coconut milk (the kind from the can)
– salt and pepper to taste

Vegetables
– 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
– 1 small eggplant, quartered and cut into 1/2-in pieces
– 1 bell pepper, sliced
– a few handfuls spinach, washed and dried

– cooked rice or quinoa to serve

Preheat oven to 400F.

Prepare the sauce.  Mix all sauce ingredients together except for coconut milk, set aside.  You will use some to cook the vegetable in and some will be reserved to complete the sauce.

In a large bowl, toss prepared onion, eggplant, and bell pepper with about 1/2 of the sauce.  Mix until vegetables are coated.  Spread vegetables on a baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes, stirring about halfway through, until they are soft and beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and pour into a large bowl.

Place the spinach in the same pan the vegetables were just removed from.  Put in the oven for 2-4 minutes, until wilted.  Add to the bowl with the other vegetables.

Complete the sauce by whisking the coconut milk into the reserved half of the miso-curry mixture.  Pour over the vegetables and stir well.  Serve hot over rice or quinoa.

* I submitted this post to this week’s Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, Foodie Friday, and Wellness Weekend.

Baked Salmon Steaks with Ginger Sesame Vegetables

It’s obvious that I like to cook.  I love the creativity and discovery involved and of course I love eating the results.  I also love the idea of cooking for other people, of providing them with a cozy meal and good company.  But the reality of cooking for other people makes me duck and cover.  I get nervous that something won’t turn out.  I’ll burn it at the last minute or I’ll accidentally add too much salt, ruining the whole thing.  Or (possibly worse) they’ll just think my food is kind of mediocre.  This is why you see so many “serves 1” recipes on this site.  I just can’t take the pressure.

And so I got a case of the heart palpitations last night when Jeremy mentioned he was having a client over to do some work at exactly the same time that I was planning on making dinner.  “But I’ve never cooked salmon steaks before!  What if she hates bok choy?  And how am I going to take my food photos without her thinking I’m a total weirdo?!?!”

Well, I solved that last problem by hiding around the corner in the kitchen and snapping some poorly-lit shots before serving the food.  As for the rest?  It turned out just fine.  In fact, I don’t think I could have chosen a less fussy, more rewarding dinner for company.  The brilliance is that everything goes in the oven at the same time and comes out at the same time.  Very little risk of forgetting something and burning it.  And salmon always bumps up the “wow” factor.

I chose to use salmon steaks because there was a killer deal on them at my local market.  One good-sized steak can easily serve 2 people.  Just divide it up after it cooks.  You could easily use another cut instead but your cooking time may be different.

Salmon Steaks with Ginger Sesame Vegetables
serves 4

Ingredients
– 2 salmon steaks (Wild-Alaskan preferred)
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 2 heads baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise and carefully washed
– 2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
– 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
– 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
– 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
– 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
– a few Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Place salmon steaks in a small glass pan and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.  Set aside.  If you plan on serving this meal with rice, you can get that started now, too.

2. Place bok choy halves in a large glass pan and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Top with salt.

3. In a large bowl, toss cabbage, mushrooms, remaining olive oil, sesame oil, and ginger together with salt.  Add to the pan with the bok coy.

4. Put salmon and vegetable pans into the oven together.  Bake for 12-16 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon.  Stir vegetables about halfway through.

5. Before serving, divide the salmon steaks in half, lengthwise.  Simply slide your knife along the line where the bones are.  Remove the larger center bone and all the smaller bones where you cut.  Don’t worry, they’re not too hard to find.  You can also remove the skin before serving if you’d like.  Serve with rice and top everything with toasted sesame seeds.

* I added this post to this week’s Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Weekend Gourmet, Real Food 101, Fat Tuesday, and Gluten Free WednesdayMonday Mania.