Eating Fresh: Thai Inspired Dinner Salad

This salad takes a page from the Thai dish laarb.  You can make it with ground chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, crumbled tofu, or tempeh and it will be delicious any way.  The less strong the flavor of the protein (chicken, tofu) the more you will taste the other flavors but as they meld well with the stronger proteins this dish will be delicious any way you make it.  In the ingredient list below I list optional, spicy, items in italics – add as much of them or none at all according to your taste.  This quantity will serve 4 not extremely hungry adults or 2 very hungry ones.  It makes a great one-plate dinner, is refreshing on a hot day, and is satisfyingly filling.

Thai Inspired Dinner Salad

  • 1 small white or yellow onion
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 limes
  • 1 pound protein (ground chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, firm tofu, or tempeh)
  • 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 package thin rice noodles
  • 1 Romaine lettuce heart or 1/2 whole head Romaine
  • 1 bell pepper, any color
  • 1 medium cucumber or 1/2 large one
  • 10-20 fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • jalapeno peppers

Start by slicing the whole red onion and half the white one into thin strips.  Chop the other 1/2 onion and set aside.  If you are using jalapenos, seed and slice into half moons now.  Toss the sliced onion (and jalapenos) with the juice from 1 1/2 limes, set the other 1/2 lime aside for garnish.  Set the onions aside to marinate – this will help take the spicy edge off them and add lots of flavor to the salad.  Soak the rice noodles in a bowl of cold water while bringing a pot of water to a boil.  When the water is boiling, cook the soaked noodles in it for 5 minutes or so, taste to make sure they are soft but not soggy.  When they are done, rinse in cold water and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a saute pan or heavy-bottomed pot heat 1 Tbs of the olive oil over medium high heat then add the onion and cook for a minute or two.  Add whatever protein you are using and a good pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring and chopping, until the meat is cooked through or the soy proteins are heated and seasoned.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, slice the cucumber into thin half moons and the pepper into 1 inch thin strips.  Wash and dry the Romaine then cut it into small bite-sized pieces.  Roughly chop or tear the basil.  When everything is ready you can start to assemble the salad.  On a large serving plate or shallow bowl put the Romaine lettuce.  Then top with the cold, drained rice noodles, spreading them over the lettuce.  Now toss the protein, onions in lime juice, cucumber, and pepper together with remaining 2 Tbs olive oil.  Pile this over the noodles.  Top with the basil leaves, garnish with small wedges cut from the remaining half lime.  Serve.  This is great served with very tart fresh mint basil limeade or iced coconut milk Thai chai (recipes to follow…)

And More of the Green Stuff (Zucchini, that is.)

This dish is for the spicy/savory folks, as the zucchini bread was for the sweet folks.  In our house we like both so have some of each dish on the go right now.  More recipes for zucchini to come…keep reading.

Spicy Zucchini and Eggplant in Tomato Sauce with Olives

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 large or 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 large white onion (or yellow)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or puree
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 cups green olives, to taste (you can use pimento-stuffed Spanish olives or any pitted green ones.  I use these, which are from the kibbutz where Jim and I met and they are delicious on their own)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbs ground cumin, to taste (I toast and grind my own seeds, the flavor difference is amazing)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1/4 makes it flavorful, 1/2 makes it spicy, more makes it fiery.  Substitute 1 tsp paprika instead if you don’t like the heat.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of vinegar – red wine, cider, balsamic, rice

Heat the oil in the bottom of a heavy pot over medium high while you chop the onion.  Put onion in pot and cook slightly (don’t brown) while you chop the eggplant and zucchini into 1″ chunks.  Add veggies to pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring so nothing sticks or burns.  Finely chop the garlic and add to the pot.  Add in the cumin, some black pepper, and cayenne, stir for a minute then add tomato sauce/puree, vinegar, and water.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.  Add in olives and simmer, covered, over lowish heat for at least an hour.  Check and stir every 10 minutes or so.  If it starts to stick, turn down heat.  If it looks like it getting dry, add water.  Taste and season with salt as needed.  Serve hot as a side dish or over rice as a main dish.  Serve cold as a salad or stuffed in a pita.

What to do with CSA veggies tonight aka Red Raw Slaw

This was delicious and had the added benefit  of turning the pasta on the same plate pink.  This is a great way to use beets without having to heat up your oven or stove and for those who are not sure about eating raw beets mixing them with other vegetables makes them more appealing.  Me, I love beets all ways so don’t need tempting. 

Red Raw Slaw

  • 1/2 head Chinese cabbage
  • 2 beets (I used one red and one chiogga)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Shred cabbage and grate the beets and carrot.  Very thinly slice the onion then toss all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Taste, season, eat.  You can add a little protein and crunch by adding a handful of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, or pumpkin seeds.  This salad is vegan, gluten-free, high fiber, raw, pareve…anything else?