Category Archives: salad

Grain Salad, Two Ways

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking on Sundays and eating the food throughout the week.  This week I tried a really good salad at the local Coop deli and decided to make some myself, especially since it used feta, and I was still trying to use up that same old block.  I decided I would get sick of the salad though if I had 4 servings of the same thing though, so I divided it in half and dressed up one half sweet with dried cherries and toasted almonds, and the other more savory with basil and kalamata olives.  The only thing about this that is at all difficult is that you have to remember to soak the spelt berries overnight (or for 8 hours or so) before beginning to cook.  Don’t be intimidated by them: they’re a lot like barley, with a chewy texture and nutty flavor.

how to cook the spelt berries

1. soak 1 cup spelt berries overnight in a pot of water
2. drain and rinse
3. add 5 cups of water to the spelt berries and bring to a boil
4. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 45 minutes.  spelt berries should still be firm but tender.
5. drain and rinse, and return to the pot
6. stir in 2 tbsp olive oil to keep the grains from sticking
7. divide grains into two bowls.

basil, olive and feta salad

1. Chop 1/4 c. feta and 1/4 c. kalamata olives and add to grains.
2. Grab a handful of basil and remove the stems.  To chiffonade the basil (the fancy word for cutting it into strips), lay the leaves one on top of another.
3. Next, roll the stack of leaves into a tube.
4. Now slice the tube into discs.
5. Add the basil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar to the grain mixture, and stir.

cherry, almond and feta salad
1. Add 1/4 c. chopped toasted almonds, 1/4 c. chopped dried cherries, and 1/4 c. chopped feta cheese.
2. Add 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and stir

Wheat Berries on Foodista


Bun chai – Vietnamese Noodle Salad

So I had half the ingredients from yesterday’s Triple Sesame Salad (lettuce, spinach, cooked tofu, cucumber, scallions) and some dressing, but wanted something different tonight. Still working on my goal of finishing all my fresh vegetables and groceries before I go to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving this week, I pulled out a bag of green beans and a couple of eggs, and a bundle of round udon noodles. I was feeling like a variation on a Vietnamese noodle salad. Normally this salad would be served with nuoc cham dipping sauce, but I didn’t have any fish sauce, so I substituted soy, which turned out just fine. I also used some ginger, making it “nuoc cham gung.”

(makes 2 servings)

1/4 c. soy
2 tbsp water
1 lime
1/2 tsp sriracha
2 cloves garlic
a chunk of ginger (about an inch long, peeled)
3 tbsp brown sugar

mixed greens – romaine, spinach, red lettuce, whatever you’ve got is good
2 scallions
1 cucumber
about a half lb of green beans
2 eggs
tofu, cooked (from yesterday’s sesame salad)
noodles – I used round udon, you could use rice noodles though if you have them. You could also experiment with whole wheat.
peanut sauce (see previous post)

1. Fill a pot with about 1/2 inch of water, and put in a steamer basket. Fill another pot with water for the noodle, and add the eggs to this pot. Turn both burners to high.

2. Cut the ends off the green beans and half them. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife, and slip the peel off. Cut the ginger into two or three smaller pieces. Add the green beans, garlic and ginger to the basket, and cover the pot.

3. When the water with the eggs in it comes to a boil, add the noodles. Yes, with the eggs. Living dangerously, I know.

4. While you’re waiting for the noodles to cook, peel the cucumber and cut it into 1/2 inch thick slices. Slice the scallions – cut the green parts into 1/2 inch pieces, and slice the white parts thinly.

5. When the noodles are done, remove them from the water with tongs and drain. Take the pot off the heat and cover, leaving the eggs in the water.

6. The green beans should be done by this point. Take them off the heat, and carefully remove the garlic and ginger from the pot.

7. Mince the garlic and ginger. Add to a small bowl with the soy, water, sugar and lime juice. Mix until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust proportions to your liking.

8. Run the eggs under cold water and peel.

9. Arrange everything on a plate – greens, green beans, hard boiled egg, tofu, noodles, and cucumber. Sprinkle scallions over the greens. Drizzle the sauce over everything. Serve with peanut sauce on the side for dipping.

Triple your pleasure, Triple your fun

I have this big binder of recipes. I started it in summer of 2007, right after graduation, when I suddenly had all this time to experiment in the kitchen. I went a little recipe-crazy, taking out tons of cookbooks from the library and photocopying the ones I wanted to try. Of course, quite a few of those original recipes still remain to be attempted.

Today I realized I had tons of salad greens, and will be going out of town for Thanksgiving this week, so I needed to find a use for them. I also had half a package of silken tofu, and other assorted vegetables that needed to be eaten before I leave. I decided to make one of the neglected recipes–Mark Bittman’s Triple Sesame Salad–for lunch (in repentance for the junk I’m going to eat later at the football tailgate. Hook ’em horns!)

Here it is…

The Dressing:
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine all in blender or food processor and blend away. Easy peasy.

The salad:
1. Cook your protein. I used silken tofu, cut into planks, and pan fried them in a little canola oil. Beware – tofu has a high water content – there will be splashing oil. You should drain the tofu first on paper towels, but if you are using silken as I did, there’s only so much you can do. Mark Bittman suggests scallops, and next time I will follow his lead.

This is my tofu-cooking method – cut the tofu into flat “steaks” –
that way you can actually develop some crust on both sides.

2. Arrange your veggies on a plate. Mixed greens + romaine = good. Cucumber = good. Scallions = good. Basil = good. Tomato and mushroom = pretty, but not so good with the dressing.

3. Top with tofu (or scallops) and drizzle with dressing.

In the immortal words of the waitress at Titaya’s, my favorite Thai restaurant in Austin, “salad, yummy!”

Just-like-at-the-sushi-restaurant Ginger Dressing

In my admittedly East-Coast-Centric opinion, there’s a serious dearth of good (and casual) sushi bars in Austin. Don’t get me wrong – sushi is everywhere – but it’s a “water water everywhere and not a drop to drink” situation, if you get my drift.

One of the things I miss most about my frequent trips to Kiku and Mikado in Philly is the salads with the bright, tangy ginger dressing. I looked at a few recipes and adapted one to the ingredients I had, and it came out amazingly good. These quantities will make enough dressing for about 4 salads.

1/4 cup canola oil
1/6 cup apple cider vinegar (I eyeballed this with a 1/3 cup measure)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, chopped
A one-to-two inch chunk of carrot, or a couple of baby carrots
An inch-long chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper

Throw it all in the blender and puree until smooth. I used this dressing on a salad of crunchy romaine, diced carrots and cucumbers, carrot shavings, and avocado for a potluck. I think it was well received, but I’ll leave the final judgment up to the other guests…