Almonds, sesame seeds, cashews. Miso, mirin. Green onions, red onions, garlic, cilantro, shallot. There’s an unending pool to dive into when it comes to Asian flavors. This post is for those of you who, like myself, want easy, healthy and delicious food to put on the table. Or to take to a potluck. (which is where many of my dishes end up!)
I go to several potlucks a month. I also host and attend many parties that ask you to bring a dish. I don’t know about you, but I hate it when everyone takes the same thing to a party: chips and salsa. Don’t get me wrong-I LOVE homemade salsa. But that only soaks up so much beer over the course of an evening 🙂 Consider being that person who takes a delicious (and healthy) salad.
When I first moved to Texas I started showing up to potlucks with “weird” dishes (quinoa, kale)- I got a lot of skeptical looks from my new friends. After 5 years of not letting up, people have finally grown to accept and even like the food I bring. It’s cool to introduce new things and see the delight on faces when they realize what they’ve been missing! Just this week I took a quinoa salad to a game night and had these responses:
” I assume you brought the dish in the yellow bowl? It was so good! Was that kale in there?”
“I had a feeling you made that salad so I decided to try it even though I don’t normally eat stuff like that. I really liked it a lot!”
“Hey Amber!” (yelled from across the room) “What’s in this salad? What is that stuff?” (“Quinoa” I respond) “It is delicious!”
“I really like this dish. Do you know who made it? (“I did,” I tell my new tablemate) “You did!? Can I get the recipe? I think my kids will like this.”
I will be sharing that salad recipe in a different post. But for now, here’s another one that always has people going back to the buffet for more:
This recipe has been adapted from the book “Vegetarian Rice Cuisine” by Jay Solomon, which happens to be one of my “salad bibles”.
Thai Rice Salad:
What you’ll need:
3-5 Cups cooked grain (I generally use black Japonica rice, brown rice, or quinoa. Or a combo of any of these)
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, de-stemmed and chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced OR 1 pkg cherub, cherry or baby golden tomatoes halved
1 or 2 large red, yellow or gold bell peppers ( I like to use a handful of those mini sweet peppers you can buy in pkgs)
4-6 green onions, trimmed and sliced
2 grated carrots
1/4 cup + 2 TBS soy sauce or braggs liquid aminos
1/4 Cup neutral oil (grape seed, peanut, veggie etc)
2 TBS rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 TBS toasted sesame oil
1 knob freshly grated ginger, or a bit of powdered ginger
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
Cook your grains according to package directions. Let rice cool. Place rice and veggies into a large bowl and mix. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a measuring cup. Dip a piece of lettuce in dressing and see if you like it. Adjust to your tastes. (Sometimes a little agave or sugar is nice in there). Pour half of the dressing over rice and gently toss together. Taste and adjust flavors or add more dressing if you need to. *Oftentimes I find these grain salads need more dressing than a usual green salad*
If there’s time, let it chill before serving. It can be served “as is” or over a bed of lettuce. It’s good even if it’s still warm as you run out the door to your potluck!
This next salad can be made a million different ways with whatever you have on-hand.
Amber’s Asian Green Salad:
Salad greens (any one of these or a combo of: lettuce, kale, cabbage)
Veggies (any combo you like: carrots; cucumbers; green or red onions: red, orange or yellow bell peppers)
Toasted or raw nuts/seeds (My favorites: almonds, sesame or pumpkin seeds, cashews…)
Cilantro, de-stemmed and chopped
Optional: To make it more substantial as a meal: Baked tofu, tempeh or chicken; or shelled and cooked edamame
Other ideas: cooked mung beans; bean sprouts; mushrooms….Just browse the produce aisle at your Asian grocery store!
Dressing option #1 (Nut based)
3 TBS peanut or almond butter
1/4 C + 2 TBS rice vinegar or cider vinegar
2 TBS grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp powdered will work)
2 TBS tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed (1/4 tsp garlic powder can be subbed)
small squeeze of agave or a bit of sugar
3 TBS toasted sesame oil
1/4 Cup neutral oil
red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
Place garlic and ginger in the food processor( or whisk it all in a bowl) and pulse until finely chopped. Add all other ingredients and process until smooth. Add water if it’s too thick and adjust flavors to your taste.
3 TBS apple cider vinegar ( or white or rice)
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 TBS Tamari, soy sauce or Braggs
2 tsp light agave
1 knob fresh ginger, grated (or 1 tsp powdered)
1 TBS Toasted Sesame oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 TBS water
For the dressing, place garlic and ginger in food processor until finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, simply whisk it in a measuring cup. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Adjust to taste.
For the SALAD, mix all of your greens and veggies in a big bowl. Toss in nuts and cilantro. Add any “extras” and toss to combine. Serve dressing on side or dress entire thing right before serving. * I often like to serve this “salad bar style” and let guests make their own best salad!
Do you go to a lot of potlucks? What do you like to see at the table?