thai-ish crunch salad with peanut dressing

Vegan kids cooking

hello friends!  It’s been gorgeous weather here in California, I’m just buzzing on sunshine.  All the spring feels over here- almond trees in bloom, fresh verdant green grass, miners lettuce, birds out and about, and lots of wind.  As I write this I’m laying on my patio in a pair of shorts and soaking up the afternoon sun.  With this warmer weather we’ve been getting outside a lot and hiking, playing, gardening and more, which makes me feel SO GOOD.  Seriously, is there anything better than being outside?  It makes me feel so grounded, connected and supported and boosts my mood x 100.

farmers market oranges zero waste imperfect

Today I wanted to share a very simple and very adaptable recipe with you that we can’t get enough of lately.  I follow a beautiful mama on Instagram named Jenna Strubhar and she provides me with the most amazing down to earth inspiration, from everything from gentle parenting to books and easy vegan meals.  Recently she posted about a thai salad she makes that is a staple in their household, I made it, and we’ve been eating it nonstop.  So I wanted to post it here so you can hopefully make it and love it as much as we did.  I’ve made some slight modifications to her recipe, which you can find here.

thai Salad

Thai salad

Use whatever veggies you have or like- the ones I list are simply what we had that day-but other ingredients like cucumber, fresh chili pepper, mango, pineapple, tomato, zucchini noodles, rice noodles, tofu, tempeh, and edamame would go deliciously here too.  Basil and mint are great swaps for the cilantro (extra points for thai basil!).  In fact, I used this sauce a few times over simple sauteed cabbage/broccoli, warm, and it was amazing.  We also used it to dip veggies in for a snack, also amazing.  I bet it would be great for rice paper rolls too.

Peanut thai salad vegan

thai-ish crunch salad with peanut dressing (serves 2 large servings or 4 small servings)

for the dressing/sauce:

1/4-1/3 cup nut butter (I’ve used both almond and PB with great results, I bet sunflower seed would work well if you have nut allergies) amount depending on how thick you want the dressing

1 tablespoons tamari

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar would be nice too)

juice and zest of 1 lime (start with half the juice first and add more as needed- will depend on how big your lime is)

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons minced/grated fresh ginger (I use my microplane for this task) OR 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon maple syrup or coconut aminos

optional: 1 teaspoon tamarind paste

water as needed to thin it out

for the salad:

1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

2 carrots, shredded or sliced thinly

1 cup cilantro, chopped or just pick off the leaves and throw in whole

2 cups sliced red cabbage

3 green onions, sliced thinly

1 large navel orange, skin removed and chopped into segments

1 large avocado, sliced or diced

1/4 cup cashew pieces (or peanuts, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, whatever)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I used a mix of black and unhulled white)

method:

  1. in the bottom of a large bowl, add all dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.  Taste and add more of a certain ingredient if needed to adjust the dressing to your tastebuds.
  2. add in all raw ingredients to the bowl (I like to reserve a few pieces of cilantro and green onion for garnish if I want to make it look extra pretty)
  3. toss to combine- I usually just use clean hands
  4. toast the sesame seeds and cashews in a hot dry pan (no oil) over high heat, tossing the pan or stirring constantly until toasted, about 3 minutes)
  5. divide salads into bowls and garnish with the toasted nuts/seeds and any reserved cilantro/green onion.
  6. take a moment to express gratitude for the food and then devour!

Thai salad vegan zero waste

winter red salad

Happy New Year!  It’s been a gorgeous and sunny day here in California + I’m full of optimism for a brand new year.  My goals for this year are to reduce my recycling load (mainly wine, beer bottles, sparkling water cans and paper from Carmela’s school), to read more, and to be more positive i.e. complain less.  There’s a great post Juli of Pure Kitchen did about this called Complaining Isn’t Gratitude.

I’m also focusing on saving more (we already save about 35% of our income but I’d like to save more and put it towards travel specifically).  I’m also trying not to buy anything new this month (besides necessities) in an effort to simplify our lives even further.  Also I CANNOT wait to cancel my Costco membership (I haven’t been in forever since everything is entombed in plastic packaging but I keep forgetting).  We used to go there once a week and do a HUGE trashy haul.

January 2018 goals sustainable

What are your goals?  A few of you reached out to me and told me you are striving for a more sustainable lifestyle this year through less waste and a more plant based diet.  So exciting!

shopping Package free zero waste

Over Christmas we made this delicious menu of roasted cabbage rolls and salad and it was so perfect.  I always love Amy Chaplin’s recipes.  It took about 5 minutes to throw together the salad, but it looked gorgeous and tasted even better.  We’ve been making it quite a bit since, so I thought I’d share the recipe here with you.  It’s full of bitter greens which are amazing for digestion and just happen to be in season right now.  Growing up Italian made me appreciate bitter flavors like broccoli rabe, radicchio, dandelion greens, endive, bitter almonds, very dark chocolate and more.  Bitter flavors stimulate digestion and increase the absorption of nutrients from your food.  They reduce cravings + are rich in prebiotics for gut health.

In this salad, there’s all kinds of textures, flavors, and shapes here which makes it visually appealing and fun to eat.  I’ve adapted it a bit from the original which you can find by clicking here  (scroll down past the cabbage rolls).

radicchio watermelon radish shallot radicchio vegan salad

bitter winter red salad

for the dressing:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey (you could omit but I found it helps balance the bitterness of the other ingredients.  Alternatively, you could omit and add in 1 thinly sliced sweet apple like Fuji or some dried sweet cranberries or cherries)

1 teaspoon dijon or whole grain mustard

1 small minced shallot

large pinch kosher sea salt

large pinch freshly ground pepper

for the salad:

1 head radicchio

1 belgian endive

1 small beet (chioggia-the pink and white kind-would be great, I could only find red and it was perfect- thinly shaved)

1 medium watermelon radish, thinly shaved

3 red radishes, thinly shaved

Seeds from 1 medium pomegranate

1 cup whole parsley leaves without stems (I save the stems for stock)

method:

Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake them up in a jar with a lid.  Arrange the salad parts except for the pomegranate, parsley, hazelnuts.  Drizzle dressing over the salad and the scatter the remaining pomegranate seeds, parsley leaves, and crushed hazelnuts over the top.  Serve and enjoy!

a flexible fall salad

IMG_0665

This is a seasonal favorite of ours, a colorful salad with a strong vinaigrette that can hold its own and acts as a nice counterpoint to the denser, grounding, cooked dishes that our bodies gravitate toward in winter.  There’s hearty greens, crunchy vegetables, sweet fruit, toasted nuts and/or seeds, and a garlicky, mustardy vinaigrette.  I’ve added lots of substitution suggestions in the recipe as I don’t believe in rigid cooking.  Use what you have, what you enjoy and gravitate towards, whats available and fresh in your area.  One of the pleasures of cooking is sensing and feeling instead of measuring.  Also, if you have children, whisking vinaigrette is a fun job for them and they can learn the proportions and how make it themselves over time.  Serve it as a side or as a meal with soup, or add some legumes, tofu, or tempeh to make it a complete meal.   I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

VINAIGRETTE:

1 clove garlic, minced OR 1 small shallot, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice OR apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard OR whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons agave nectar OR maple syrup OR honey

S+P to taste

SALAD:

1/2 a head of kale, stems removed, sliced crosswise into thin strips OR any other hearty green like beet greens, bok choy, endive, escarole, spinach, or a mix.

1 cup sliced cabbage or brussels sprouts

1 large carrot, thinly sliced or grated OR radish OR celery- anything with CRUNCH!

1 large apple OR pear OR fuyu persimmon, sliced thinly

1/2 cup pomegranate arils

1/3c toasted nuts and seeds- any or all.  pumpkin+sesame, sunflower+hazelnut, almond+hemp, pecan+poppy are great combos

METHOD:

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a large salad bowl.  Taste and adjust to your preferences.  Add in kale to bowl.  Massage until softened, 3 minutes or so.  Add in the rest of the veggies and the apple and toss to coat.  Last, sprinkle the pomegranates and nuts+seeds over the top.  Serve!