Napa Cabbage & Noodle Salad

This is a tangy and delicious cabbage and noodle main dish salad, based on Hannah Che’s recipe from The Vegan Chinese Kitchen Cookbook. It’s perfect for a late summer evening supper, because it’s easy, super fast and has a dressing that is unbelievably good – plus it’s gluten-free and vegan. If you can’t get Napa cabbage, Romaine lettuce works, too.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 head Napa cabbage, cut in half lengthwise
1 small cucumber, julienned
1 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 cups fresh rice vermicelli noodles (Pho noodles) or Mung bean vermicelli noodles.

1 medium carrot, julienned
1 scallion, cut into 1/8″ rounds (both white and green part)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 chopped cashews or peanuts

Dressing:

2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar (cider vinegar would also be fine, I think)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, crushed

DIRECTIONS

Cut cabbage lengthwise a few times, then cut very thin slices. Add cabbage and and cucumber into a colander and toss with the salt. Leave to drain.

Start water boiling in a small saucepan, add noodles and cook 5-10 seconds. Drain and rinse with cool water. Cut noodles into smaller sections with a scissors. If you are using other noodles, cook as directed on the package, then drain and rinse with cool water. You want to end up with about 1 1/2 cups cooked noodles.

Mix dressing ingredients well in a small bowl. Taste and add more soy sauce if you think it needs it.

Gently press cabbage and cucumber to remove some of the water. You can also squeeze it gently in your hand. Place in a large bowl, and add noodles, carrots, scallions and cilantro. Pour dressing over and toss to coat Toss into a large bowl, and top with nuts.

Serve immediately. Yum.

End of Summer Pasta with Zucchini and Spinach

Last night, as I started making Mushroom Ravioli with Spinach from JuliasAlbum.com for a potluck at a friend’s house, I realized that what I thought was ravioli in the freezer was actually Chinese Dumplings and the mushrooms were sludge.

But I did have some nice pasta, fresh spinach and a giant zucchini from my neighbors Amy and Steve, so I switched it up and made Pasta with Zucchini and Spinach. It was delicious and bonus point: another way to enjoy excess end-of-summer zucchini!

Ingredients:

1 lb Trottole or any other nice chunky pasta, cooked al dente
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
a sprig of Rosemary and a few sprigs of Thyme, or a generous pinch of dried Rosemary and 1/4 tsp dried Thyme.
4-5 cups thinly sliced Zucchini (If really large, cut into quarters first.)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
5 oz. spinach (I’d be happy doubling this.)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed or 1 generous tsp garlic powder
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente stage and drain, saving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large frying pan, heat butter and olive oil on medium heat with Rosemary and Thyme. Add zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes with the oil they came in. Sauté for several minutes, until the zucchini have broken down quite a bit and are mostly translucent. They will reduce a lot in volume. Remove herb stems.

Add garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Then add spinach in batches, continuously stirring and folding so the spinach wilts.

Add in the pasta and 1/4 cup of pasta water to start and stir to coat the pasta with the veggies. Add more pasta water if it seems too dry. Check seasonings and serve immediately.

For a vegan version, skip the butter and just use olive oil.

Quick & Easy Raspberry Jam (No Pectin)

Is there anything better than the sweet, tart flavor of fresh raspberry jam?

I picked up some gorgeous raspberries and decided to make jam, but didn’t have any pectin. A quick online search turned up a super-simple recipe from Camilla on FabFood4All.com. She measures ingredients by weight and makes a larger batch.

Costco sells raspberries in 12 ounce packages, so that determined my batch. I do often weigh ingredients, but have included volume measurements as well, since some people prefer that.

This recipe is so easy – and even without pectin, it gels really well.

Ingredients

340 gms / 12 oz. / about 3 cups fresh raspberries, washed and gently dried
297 gms / 1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring gently from time to time. Keep on heat for 7 minutes, stirring constantly. I use a flat edged wooden spoon to keep scraping the bottom so it doesn’t burn or stick. In the meantime, put a small saucer in the fridge to chill.

Remove from heat and put a few drops on a the chilled saucer. Put back in the fridge for a minute. Remove and nudge the drops with a spoon or your finger. If the jam is ready it will wiggle a little and have a jammy consistency. If it is very runny, put it back on the heat for another couple of minutes. Remember, it will also thicken a little as it cools.

Pour into clean, sterilized jars (read my Simple Canning post for help) and seal. Mine made enough for one and a half jars. We’re just keeping it in the fridge since we know we’ll eat it soon.

Just writing about it made me hungry, so I had to have a slice of bread with butter and jam. So good!

Salad with Warm Pasta and Balsamic Vinaigrette

With all the great fresh veggies available right now, we’ve been eating lots of salads. Having a warm element in a salad some how makes it feel like a main dish, and tonight it was Spinach and cheese Tortellini.

That contrast of temperatures, textures and colors takes an ordinary salad to something really quite amazing. I also had some lovely baby radishes from my friend Gene, so with a good drizzle of my favorite balsamic vinaigrette, it was a perfect summer supper!

Ingredients

1/2 lb. fresh Tortellini (any kind)
1 tsp olive oil
Good pinch kosher salt
Few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
pinch of garlic powder

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 1/4 cup)
8-10 baby radishes, halved (if larger, quartered)

Balsamic Vinaigrette

3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (Costco’s is amazingly good)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2/3 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 tsp honey
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Cook Tortellini as directed on package.

Chop lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and radishes, and mix gently in a large bowl.

Mix all ingredients for vinaigrette in a mason jar and shake like crazy.

When Tortellini is cooked, drain water and toss pasta in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

To serve, place salad in a wide flat bowl, sprinkle with several warm Tortellini and drizzle everything with dressing.

Yum!

Spring Roll Peanut Sauce

I am practicing making Vietnamese and Thai Spring Rolls and once I’ve got it truly mastered, I’ll add the recipe. But I have to share this Peanut Dipping Sauce now, because it is just so good.

We’ve been using it as a dipping sauce for baby cucumbers and carrot sticks and it is absolutely irresistible.

Ingredients:

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar would probably be fine, too)
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3 pieces of palm sugar (about 2 1/2 Tbsp) or 2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy – both are fine)
Warm water as needed

In a large mortar and pestle, start by smashing the garlic cloves. Add vinegar, soy suce and palm sugar, and stir, crushing the palm sugar until it’s mostly broken down. Or just add the brown sugar.

Add sesame oil and peanut butter and mix in the mortar bowl, until smooth and creamy. Add warm water a teaspoon at a time until the consistency is a thick but smooth sauce. Check flavorings and add a little soy sauce or sesame oil if it’s tasting too sweet.

Can keep refrigerated for a week. You may need to add a little more warm water to loosen it up after it’s been in the fridge overnight.

If you don’t have a large mortar and pestle, you can always crush the garlic and just mix everything in a small bowl.

Palm sugar adds a wonderful flavor, but if you can’t get it, just use a little less brown sugar. (Brown sugar is sweeter than palm sugar.)

Baked Eggplant & Tomatoes with Pesto

This is a delicious dish that looks gorgeous, but is very easy and really ticks all the boxes for me! The eggplant gets all creamy and the cheese gets all melty, and the pesto gets all… pesto-ey. Well, you get the point.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, stem end removed and sliced lengthwise in 1/2″ slices (save end pieces for another use)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Pesto
4-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/2″ slices (Any tomato is actually fine.)
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper the sliced eggplants and place in a bowl, leaning on the edge so the water can run off a bit from the eggplant. Let drain for at least 15 minutes.

Lay the first slice of eggplant in a 9×12 baking dish. Spread about 2 tsp of Pesto on the first slice. Top with a layer of tomatoes, and sprinkle on a spoonful each of Mozzarella and grated Romano. Slide the layer over until it is at an angle leaning on the side of the dish.

Repeat for the second layer, sliding eggplant over to partially overlap the first layer.

Continue with all remaining slices of eggplant. Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 20 minutes.

Serve hot – it’s so good!

French Toast with Sautéed Blueberries

I love French Toast. Don’t know why I don’t make it more often. Probably because Kumy is such a pancake guy. French Toast is honestly so easy that I’ve never written it down until now.

I also like using fruit with just a bit of of sugar, maple syrup or honey for sweetening. If the berries are really sweet, you may not need to add all the sugar. You can also substitute eggnog for the milk – it’s delicious – or you could just as easily use Oatmilk if you like.

Ingredients:

French Toast
3 1″ slices of bread (mine was a flatter loaf)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Pinch of salt

Berries
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar or 1 tsp honey
1/2 cup blueberries or any other fresh berries

Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a flat bowl or pie pan. Lay bread slices in the mixture, and flip them over. Let soak in for a few minutes, pushing down on them once in a while to make sure they soak up as much of the milk mixture as possible.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. You can add a little butter to the pan, but you really don’t need it with nonstick.

Place soaked bread in skillet, drizzling any leftover milk mix over. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until it’s starting to get a bit golden underneath. Flip over and cook another 2 minutes, until it’s golden on the bottom and starting to get a little brown.

Remove French Toast to a serving plate.

Quickly add the butter and let it melt. Toss brown sugar over and stir for 10-15 seconds. Add blueberries and sauté blueberries in the sugar butter mixture for a minute. Pour berries and everything over the French Toast.

Delish!

Roasted Eggplant

Eggplants by Rens on Unsplash

Here’s another glorious roasted Eggplant recipe, where the addition of one secret ingredient (okay, it’s dried onion flakes) truly takes it to the next level. It’s delicious fresh out of the oven, but honestly even better warmed up the next day. We like it on pasta, or steamed rice.

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2″ squares
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 heaping Tbsp dried onion flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix seasonings, onion flakes and oil in a medium bowl, Add eggplant and toss well to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and flip eggplant over. Bake 5 more minutes. Remove and serve over rice or pasta, with some fresh, grated Romano cheese.

Would also be amazing in a wrap!

Green Beans, Mushrooms & Brie

This is an incredibly delicious dish with rich, intense flavors, and a nice bite from the green beans. I used a Brie with mushroom, but regular Brie would be great, too.

Fresh Green Beans image by Gaby Yerden on Unsplash

Ingredients:

2 cups of mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. green beans, snapped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp dried onion flakes
a chunk of Brie with mushrooms, 1.5 x 1.5 x 3″ cut into cubes

Start a pot of salted water boiling.

Heat 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they’ve lost their water and are dry again. Make a well and add the 2nd Tbsp of Olive Oil and the seasonings and stir well. Turn heat down to low, and stir occasionally.

Toss green beans in the boiling water and let them boil for 4 minutes. Remove the green beans from the water, and add to the mushrooms. Stir to combine, adding a couple big spoons of the bean water. Let cook for a couple of minutes, and then toss in the Mushroom Brie. Add a little more bean water to loosen it all up and stir until the cheese is melted. Check seasonings and serve immediately. Delish!

Mel’s Kale & Chicken Salad

This is a super delicious, super satisfying salad from Mel’sKitchenCafé.com. I made it for lunch today and Ali, who had popped in for a bike ride with Kumy enjoyed it, too. It looks like a lot, but it was really just about enough for 3 servings as a main dish. It’s got enough crunch and texture to make it interesting and satisfying.

Fresh Kale by Deborah Rainford on Unsplash

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups cooked rice, slightly warm or at room temp. (Mel uses a wild rice blend, but I had Basmati in the fridge. Trade Joe’s has a great frozen rice blend that would be great, or you could use quinoa.
6 ounces (about 5 lightly packed cups) coarsely or finely chopped kale
5 boneless, skinless thicken thighs, cook, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium apple, cored and diced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup Craisins
1/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese
2 medium avocados, diced

Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS
Cook the rice according to package directions, and let cool to room temperature.

In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil, season chicken thighs, and cook thighs over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Flip over and cook another 4 minutes or so, or until the chicken is browning nicely and cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Cut into 1″ pieces.

At the same time, start a smaller nonstick skillet on a low heat and add slivered almonds, shaking occasionally so they toast on all sides.

Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth and well-combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.

Assemble the salad by placing the greens in the bottom of individual wide serving bowls. Top with rice, chicken, apples, almonds, Craisins, feta and avocados.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss lightly to combine. Serve immediately.

NOTES
You can also use 3 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped up, in which case you don’t need any olive oil, or you could leave out the chicken altogether for a vegetarian dish.