This is the latest little lunch salad or light dinner that I am crazy about. It has everything going for it—easy to make, delicious and lends itself well to variation—the type that has you using up leftover bits and pieces from last week’s farmer’s market trip. The secret is the addictively spicy-but-not- too- spicy and pungent dressing.
2 Tbsp. oil
2-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. Tahini or other nut butter- I’ve used both almond butter and peanut butter on occasion.
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. horseradish
1 Tbsp. Chinese style hot mustard (mix up your own by combining 1 Tbsp. dry mustard powder mixed with 1 tsp. water and 1 tsp white vinegar. Stir well before using.)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped hot pepper such as jalapeño or Serrano, more or less according to taste.
2 skeins mung bean noodles, about 2 oz. (you can also use angel hair pasta, soba noodles, or thin rice noodles.) cooked according to package instructions.
¼ cup cilantro leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts finely sliced
1 small to medium cucumber julienned
½ red or orange bell pepper, julienned
1 cup julienned napa cabbage, endive or radicchio or other salad green-y type stuff.
1 cup shredded protein- I most frequently have leftover grilled chicken, but have also used leftover pork and tofu.
To make the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic until aromatic. Remove from the heat. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Set aside.
- Place the noodles and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well to combine.
Before cherry season arrives, mangoes are my favorite indulgence. I love standing over the sink eating around the pit and letting the juice drip down my chin. For this reason, I love to eat mangoes alone—or with my daughter– she loves to get in on the action and join me with her own mango pit over the sink. There is something so visceral and primitive about eating with your hands in this way—I just love it. Mangoes are extraordinarily healthy for you as well as delicious. They are a good source of vitamin C and A as well as a source of vitamin B6. It’s low-cal too. One cup fresh mango is approximately 100 calories. Mangoes also contain a number of enzymes to help with digestion. This time of the year, when ripe mangoes are plentiful I will buy an entire box with mixed levels of ripeness so that they don’t all ripen at the same time. The ripest and juiciest ones I love to chill, peel and dice to eat as a snack. To get the most out of your mango save the pit for last and indulge yourself by eating it alone, over the sink.
This past week I wanted to do something a little different. I had a mango that was not-quite-ripe so I decided to make something on the savory side rather than the sweet side. I was inspired by the red quinoa that I had found in the back of my pantry during a short lived blast of spring cleaning. If you are not familiar with quinoa, you should be. It is enjoying a huge burst of popularity right now. Pronounced ‘keen-wah’, it is gluten free and one of the least allergenic of all grains. It is high in protein and contains all of the essential amino acids in small quantities. Quinoa is low fat, versatile and easy to cook. It also reheats easily and depending on the recipe may be served hot, cold or room temperature.
Mango Quinoa Pilaf
1/2 cup of Quinoa cooked in 1 cup of water (you can cook this ahead of time and just keep it covered in your fridge.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup of diced Mango
1 scallion, white and green parts sliced
1/4 cup of mild olive oil
1 tsp. garam masala
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar or 1 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. apricot jam or Major Grey’s Mango Chutney
Tiny pinch of cayenne
To cook the quinoa: Bring the quinoa and water to a simmer. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and cover. When all of the water has been absorbed and the quinoa has released its halo, remove it from the heat and set aside to cool.
While the quinoa is cooling, combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk well.
Once the quinoa has cooled, toss with the mango and scallion. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and toss to combine. You may not use all of the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
I love Pad Thai. It was the very first Thai dish that I ever had—at Seng Thai in Portland Maine, back in the early 1990’s. I loved the sour-salty-sweet pungent goodness that is Pad Thai. Since then I have tried Pad Thai at any number of Thai restaurants across the United States. I finally learned how to make it myself from Kasma Loha-unchit in Oakland a couple of years ago. (Check out thaifoodandtravel.com for her current schedule of classes.) My one caveat with Pad Thai is that the leftovers are awful. Pad Thai is one of those few dishes that does not keep well at all. The noodles turn to glue and it is repulsively unattractive. Blech. It is meant to be cooked and eaten—don’t even think about saving some for lunch the next day. That is why I was so delighted to come across a recipe for a Pad Thai-style rice salad in the New York Times cookbook by Amanda Hesser. It was such a brilliantly simple idea I couldn’t believe that I had not thought of it myself.
For this recipe, you cook the rice in lots of boiling salted water until just tender—the same way that you would cook pasta. Drain the rice once it is tender (about 12-15 minutes) and set aside. Have all of your garnishes ready to toss with the room temperature rice. I had all of the classic Pad Thai ingredients. Diced cooked chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, Thai chilies (just ‘cause I like it spicy), chopped peanuts and egg. Combine the garnishes with the rice and set it aside while you make the Pad Thai vinaigrette. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette and enjoy! This was a dish that was great the next day for lunch!
Pad Thai Style Rice Salad
1 ½ cups long grain rice
Salted water to cook the rice in.
¼ cup or so of oil for sautéing
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ pound of shrimp
¼ pound of raw chicken cut into bite sized pieces
2 scallions chopped and set aside.
1 cup of bean sprouts, set aside
2 Thai chilies, minced and set aside (optional)
¼ cup of chopped peanuts
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. cayenne or ground red chilies (optional)
2 Tbsp. fried shallot (not traditional but very good) set aside.
Lime wedges for garnish
1 ½ Tbsp. Tamarind paste
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. fish sauce, or more to taste
2 Tbsp. neutral oil.
1. Cook the rice in rapidly boiling salted water until tender (start checking on it after 10 minutes has passed). Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the Vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a non stick pan and scramble the 2 eggs. Set aside.
4. Heat another tablespoon or two of oil in a pan or wok. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the diced chicken and sauté until cooked thru. Season with a little bit of fish sauce or salt during the cooking process. Set aside.
5. Heat a little bit more oil in the wok or pan and quickly sauté with shrimp. Again, season with fish sauce or salt and set aside.
6. Toss all of the garnished with the rice. This means everything. I like to reserve a little bit of cilantro to sprinkle on top of the finished dish.
7. Toss the rice dish with the vinaigrette. Taste, season with a bit more salt, sugar or fish sauce until you are happy with the confluence of flavors.