ORIENTAL-STYLE SESAME SLAW

I love cole slaw, but prefer a dressing without mayonnaise. Something fresh, light, and bright. This version couples orange juice with sesame oil. I add just a little squirt of lemon juice at the very end because I crave that extra acidity. Some might try to convince me that incorporating the lemon juice in the dressing would do the same job, but I beg to differ. In fact, when I ate the leftovers, I did a little lemon juice encore, and loved it even more.

ORIENTAL-STYLE SESAME SLAW
(adapted from several sources)

for the dressing:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

for the salad:
3 cups shredded napa cabbage
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
fresh cilantro leaves, amount to taste
black sesame seeds to serve
fresh lemon juice to serve

Start by making the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup or flask with a lid, and whisk or shake to emulsify. Reserve.

In a large serving bowl, add all ingredients for the salad except the black sesame seeds, combine tossing gently, then pour the dressing on top. Toss again and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, add lemon juice, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: f you like cole slaw but mayonnaise is not your thing, this will for sure please you. It gets even better next day, as all components are so sturdy. I made it twice already, the second time I added fresh orange zest together with the black sesame seeds before serving and that was a nice extra touch of flavor. Avocado goes quite well with it, keep that in mind. Not much else is needed to make this a complete meal. We enjoyed ours with a rotisserie chicken, so that was a super easy dinner to put together. The recipe can be easily adapted to a Whole30 system, if you don’t use soy sauce, and replace it with coconut aminos.

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GRILLED ROMAINE LETTUCE WITH TAHINI DRESSING AND CHICKPEAS

Another food trend I kind of twisted my nose at… grilled lettuce. How wrong can a person be? Very. I am here to gently invite you to the bright side. Don’t eye-roll, just trust me. It is absolutely delicious! You can do it on the outside grill or in the comfort of your kitchen using a non-stick grill pan, which is what I did. I don’t remember the husband getting so excited about a salad, but he gave this one two very enthusiastic thumbs up and insisted it must become part of our regular rotation. I am more than happy to “make it so.”

GRILLED ROMAINE LETTUCE WITH TAHINI DRESSING AND CHICKPEAS
(inspired by several sources)

2 heads of Romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, sliced in half lenghtwise
olive oil to rub on the surface
salt to taste to season
for the tahini dressing:
1/3 cup yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt to taste
water to adjust consistency

for the chickpeas:
1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
olive oil spray to coat chickpeas
salt to taste
smoked paprika to taste (or other spice of your choice)

Make the dressing: combine all ingredients except water in a blender. Blend until smooth, then add water until it reaches the consistency you like. Reserve.

Make the chickpeas: coat them with oil, season and air-fry for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Alternatively, roast them in a 425F oven until done.

Grill the lettuce: rub olive oil on the cut surface of the lettuce, season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill for about 3 minutes, flip the pieces and grill for just a couple of minutes on the other side. Transfer to a serving platter, opening the leaves a bit so that the dressing can reach in between them.

Drizzle the dressing, add the roasted chickpeas, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can grill the lettuce 30 minutes in advance, and just allow it to sit in the serving platter waiting for showtime. You must use Romaine, other lettuces cannot stand to the heat as well, although I did see some recipes using little butter lettuce heads cut in half. I have not tried to use them, to me they seem a bit too delicate. The dressing is so good I could eat it with a spoon. And of course, fried chickpeas take the concept of croutons to a whole new level. A little tip for you that worked super well for me: I air-fryed the chickpeas twice. After they were first made, I let them sit at room temperature, and then right before adding to the salad I fried them again for 2 minutes. The crispiness factor went off the charts. I have to try that again and write down some specific timing but keep this in mind if you own an air-fryer. Elaine and Karen, I am winking at you both!

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KAMUT AND BROCCOLI SALAD

If I am going to have a salad, my preference is a salad with substance, and a variety of textures and colors. No need to go all the way into a Chicken Caesar or a Steak Salad, but the addition of grains is more than welcome. I used quick-cooking kamut, but any type will work, just pay attention to the timing. Also, any other will be fine: barley, cracked wheat, or the beautiful farro.

KAMUT & BROCCOLI SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

1 cup cooked kamut, or amount to taste
2 broccoli heads, or amount to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 apple, cut in pieces (I used Pink Lady)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
grated ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The kamut can be prepared a day in advance if you like. Make sure it is cold when you make the salad. If you make it in advance, drizzle just a touch of olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking together. Separate the broccoli into florets and steam them for 3 minutes. Immediately run very cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the steamed broccoli into pieces. Reserve.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, add ginger, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad, pour the dressing and mix gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving, if possible.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The main inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook I own, but that version served the broccoli raw and passed by the food processor. The pieces of raw broccoli were very small and lost in the middle of the grain, all acquiring the same green color. The way I chose to make it, was barely steaming the broccoli. This simple step tames its raw sharpness. Next, I cut the pieces with a knife, in small chunks. In my opinion, this makes the final product much more appealing not only visually, but as far as texture goes.

The apples and raisins are a must, and the cashews give that extra crunchiness that will leave you smiling… peanuts, walnuts, or pecans, can be used instead.

The added bonus of this salad: it holds quite well in the fridge. I made such a big portion that in fact it lasted two days, and on the second day I decided to warm it in the microwave for a minute. Perfect! A light lunch that needed absolutely nothing else to go with it.

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PASTA CHIP BHEL

Can you tell I am in love with this salad?

But first, a disclaimer… This is by no means an authentic bhel. If you are new to the term, bhel is a concoction from India, made with puffed rice and crispy sev noodles. I’ve found this version by complete accident and was so intrigued by it, I could not wait to try it. However, I have modified it substantially so if there was any resemblance with the authentic bhel, it is pretty much all gone… Can we still be friends?

PASTA CHIP BHEL
(adapted from Naturallynidhy)

for pasta chips:
1 cup cooked pasta (I used fusilli)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tsp black and white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

for the salad:
1 cup mixed colors shredded cabbage or store-bought cole slaw mix
1/2 cup matchstick carrots (or shredded in food processor)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 tbsp black vinegar (or another vinegar of your choice)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
juice of 1/2 lime (or to taste)
salt to taste
sesame seeds to serve

Turn the air-fryer to the highest temperature (mine is 390F). Mix the pasta with oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Air-fry for about 10 minutes, until crispy and fragrant. If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes. Let it cool in a single layer over paper towels.

In a large bowl where you will serve the salad, make the dressing by mixing all oil, soy sauce, red chili sauce, vinegar, and chili flakes. Whisk well, then add a little lime juice, taste, and see if you’d like more lime juice. Add the pasta chips and all other ingredients to the bowl, toss well and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving, or longer in the fridge.

Add cilantro and more sesame seeds right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Talk about exotic flavors and textures, this salad has it all. I am now quite eager to make the real bhel, so stay tuned for that. One of my modifications was using the pasta more like you would “croutons” in a Caesar salad, just like an accent. I believe that in bhel the pasta is a main component.

All the amounts of veggies are suggestions, and super flexible. Use what you like, add other veggies if you prefer. But the idea is to have a lot of texture, and let the sauce barely smooth things out. The salad is vegan-friendly , but we “corrupted” it with grilled pork tenderloin. If you make the pasta as a main component of the salad, this could well work as a full dinner. One more thing, pay close attention to the air-frying step, and shake that pan often. It is easy to end up with some pasta crisps over-cooked. I am definitely making this or modifications of this version again and again.

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COLE SLAW WITH ALMOND DRESSING

Let’s get the V word in the open right away: vegan. This is vegan. And also very tasty. If you are not too fond of mayonnaise, this cole slaw will have your name written all over. Low in saturated fat, high in flavor. I did not add red cabbage because I wanted to keep a milder texture but consider including some if you prefer more crunch.

VEGAN COLESLAW WITH ALMOND DRESSING
(adapted from The Complete Vegan Cookbook)

for the dressing:
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
1/2 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
juice of 1 lemon
water as needed to adjust consistency

for the coleslaw:
1 small head of cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
3 large carrots, shredded in the food processor
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut into matchsticks
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice, to serve

Combine the almonds with ½ cup water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, remove from the heat, and let the almonds soak for 20 minutes. In a blender, combine the almonds with their soaking water, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, agave, salt,, and oil. Blend until creamy, adding water if needed to bring the consistency to that of mayonnaise or a little thinner. Reserve.

Add the cabbage, carrot and yellow pepper pepper to a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Fold in the parsley and dill, season with salt and pepper, and serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice all over.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I was very intrigued by this dressing, which goes in the direction of the cashew cream, but using almonds instead. I advise you to make the dressing a little thinner than mayo, because it tends to get drier as it sits. Leftovers lasted for two days without getting soggy – maybe everything turned slightly softer but not by much. The flavor actually intensified a bit.

The vegan aspect of our meal was destroyed by associating the coleslaw with grilled pork tenderloin. Of course, if you are vegetarian, pick other dishes to enjoy with this delicious slaw. We don’t eat mayo, some versions we like use yogurt instead, but for my personal taste, this is the best alternative dressing for coleslaw we’ve had so far.

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