Category: Salad

Sausage Salad (a.k.a. necessity, the mother of invention)

sausage saladMy beautiful stand-up freezer that I bought exactly 1 year and 3 weeks ago (yes, with a 1 year warranty) quit today. I can’t even tell you how annoyed I am. So far, I am “2 beers” annoyed, but that could get worse (or better? ;) ). Husband came home from work and we pulled out every little cooler we have, filled them with ice, and are trying to keep all my homemade sauces, herbs, and specially ordered meat frozen until the service guy comes and we figure out what to do.

Anyone who knows me, knows that weeknight dinners is always salad. But with hundreds of dollars of meat slowly thawing all around me, I needed to get especially inventive. Luckily, last night I soaked a cup of dry chickpeas so I had that going for me. My little brain was going a mile a minute… use the expensive stuff first! Duck sausage, ok, that’ll do. A package of arugula in the fridge and some feta for flavour… I think we have ourselves a sausage salad.

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Vietnamese Salad Rolls

salad roll final What to do for lunch tomorrow?! This was my great dilemma this morning as I lay in bed listening to the rest of the world start their day. I didn’t feel like going shopping for salad ingredients. I had some carrots in the fridge, a half a pepper from the pineapple salsa I made the other night, some cilantro, green onion, and not much else. My pantry is usually pretty well stocked with Asian ingredients and I always have prawns in the freezer. Sounds like salad rolls are on the menu.

These rolls are very adaptable to whatever you have in the fridge. Other filling ideas are bean sprouts, matchstick cucumber or zucchini, basil or mint instead of cilantro, poached chicken instead of shrimp. I used very little green onion in mine because I’m taking them to work but feel free to use more.

Don’t worry about getting the vegetables cut perfectly. I’m a bit obsessed but even using a vegetable peeler to make strips of carrots would work just fine!

As far as the peanut sauce goes, it was very good but next time I might try adding some fish sauce. Sesame oil would be tasty as well.

For the rolls:
9 medium-size (I used 16/20 count) prawns, shelled
2 oz vermicelli noodles (or about 1 1/2 cups of finished noodles)
6 round rice paper wrappers
1/2 red bell pepper (thinly sliced, pole to pole)
1 large carrot (cut into thin 3″ matchsticks)
1 green onion (thinly sliced on the diagonal)
leaves from 20  or so sprigs of cilantro

Peanut sauce:
4 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS hoisin sauce
1 TBS fresh lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

Mix peanut sauce ingredients in bowl, then blend in enough cold water to get the consistency you want. For me, this is about 3 tablespoons. Set aside.

Heat a good amount of water (enough to also cook noodles below) in medium-size saucepan. When it starts to simmer, add prawns and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the prawns from the hot water with a slotted spoon, rinse in cold water and pat dry. Cut in half lengthwise and set aside.
salad roll shrimp

In the still hot water in which you cooked the prawns, cook vermicelli noodles according to package directions. This should entail adding the noodles to the hot water for about 3 minutes, then rinse in cold water and drain.
salad roll noodles

Putting it together:

salad roll ingredients

Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface. If you work very quickly you don’t need the towel, just make sure the work surface is wet. But if you think making the roll is going to take you longer than a minute, use the towel or the rice paper will stick to your work surface (like my first one did!). Fill a wide, shallow dish large enough to hold a rice paper wrapper with hot tap water (big pie plate or frying pan). Working with 1 wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 10-15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel.

Lay 3 prawn halves in a row along the centre of the wrapper. Add other vegetables lengthwise on top. Make sure they are neatly laid or they will poke through your rice paper when you try to roll it. Add a small amount of vermicelli noodles and top with cilantro.
salad rooll 1
salad roll 2
salad roll 3

Now comes the tricky part!

Fold the bottom half of the rice paper over the vegetables. Holding the vegetables firmly, pull back on them just slightly to tighten the roll. Fold in the sides and continue to roll away from you. SEE?!?! You did it! :) Note my picture below. The ones on the right were my first attempts (that second one from the right is especially bad!). Don’t worry if the first couple are messy, they will still taste good and once you’ve done it a few times, you will get the hang of it.
salad roll bad

If you want to hold them for a day or two, wrap them individually in cling wrap. When you’re ready to eat them, just dip them in peanut sauce and go for it. Very fresh and tasty.
salad roll end

Oh, and don’t tell Husband I made these, because I’ve already eaten half of them and the other half are safely hidden… um… STORED in fridge for my lunch tomorrow. :)

Asian Grain Salad

Asian grain saladHusband and I had a great time in Seattle last weekend. A belated birthday dinner for me at an amazing restaurant and some shopping. The deals aren’t so great for Canadians anymore with our slumping dollar but the selection is still so much better than I can seem to find here. When the airlines started charging for checked luggage, I bought myself a new (very small) piece of carry-on luggage. I am not sure how I am going to travel in Europe this summer with about 6 square inches of clothing but that is a hurdle I have yet to cross. My most recent hurdle was finding the perfect “personal item” to go with my new (very small) carry-on luggage. It needed to be big enough to fit my purse, book, iPad, airplane snacks, plus any items that don’t fit into my regular (very small) carry-on luggage (for me, this usually means a couple more pair of shoes), while still maintaining the size parameters of a “personal Item”.  It also needed to be expandable in case I bring anything back from my travels that don’t fit into my (very small) carry-on luggage. It’s a tall order but I finally found the perfect bag in Seattle.

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Pomegranate Arugula Salad

pom salmon dinner“SALAD AGAIN?!?!” you’re asking? Yes, salad again. Every forking night until I lose these few extra pounds. Luckily, this is another one of my favourite salads and it’s hearty enough that you can add a small piece of protein and enjoy it as a meal (last night it was salmon). One of the main ingredients is pomegranate, which I have loved ever since I can remember. I used to sit on the sofa for hours reading a book and eating each aril (seed) separately, sucking the juice off and throwing out the seed in the centre. Why did I do that? Those seeds are crunchy and delicious, and they are chock-a-block full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. This is a great way to make use of them.  This large salad generously feeds 2 as a main, or 4-6 as a side.

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Grilled Panzanella Salad

panzsaladThis is my first blog post! I’m so excited… yay me! Because we have been building a “garage” (bike studio for Husband) in our backyard for the past year (don’t even). And because in the course of building this “garage”, they have dug up my ENTIRE backyard (yup, all of it). And because I have been living with mud and debris for 6 months (I can’t even), I am dreaming of summer when this fiasco will (supposedly) be over. And because I am dreaming of lying on my lounger in my newly landscaped yard, with the sun dappling through the trees, cold beer in hand, I want to share with you one of my absolute favourite summer dinner salads.

I know it’s a bit early in the season but maybe it will get you dreaming of summer as well. Ahhhhh…

I fell in love with the idea of panzanella salad when I started growing my own tomatoes (thank you, dad) but the actual dish never quite lived up to my expectation.  I wanted the vegetables to have more depth and sweetness.  I wanted it crunchier.  And I wanted protein to turn it into a main course that would satisfy both myself and said Husband.

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