When I was younger and we went out to a sushi restaurant, my parents would make us order a salad. This salad was usually mostly iceberg lettuce, topped with a neon-orange clumpy dressing, and I loved it. I loved how crunchy and bright it was. I hadn’t really thought about that dressing until a year or two ago when Saveur‘s recipe for it popped up on my Facebook feed. I made it immediately and was SO HAPPY.
These days there is always a jar of the stuff in my fridge since it can be used for pretty much anything. How do I use it? Most often to top my grain bowls with whatever random assortment of vegetables and proteins I’ve got around. I love using it to dress a simple salad with whatever greens I have in my fridge (romaine, baby kale, and baby spinach are the usual suspects) and topping it with sesame seeds. Or I drizzle it over my lazy breakfast of crisped leftover rice and a fried egg, plus some hot sauce and everything bagel seasoning. The point is, if there is an opportunity to use this dressing, I do.
Let’s be honest. The 4th of July has become an occasion for day drinking, barbecues, water balloons, and fireworks. But I’m not complaining. For the past few years we have spent the day in our friends Dylan and Caitlyn’s back yard, lounging, snacking, drinking good Portland brews, and eventually having a summery BBQ feast. And Monday will be no different. Here are the recipes I’m looking to cook this 4th of July.
If my memory doesn’t fail me – and it’s been a year so it might – Dylan and Caitlyn make this amazing dry rubbed chicken every year, throw it on the grill, and coat it in this homemade barbecue sauce. It is always the hit of the party, no matter how much I up my game.
I haven’t made this pie (YET!) but it has been haunting my dreams. The layer of cream cheese at the bottom? The mountain of strawberries? The crumble of pistachio and poppy seeds and cardamom? I mean, come on.
Zero Proof Beverages
The thing about spending all day in the sun eating and drinking is you have to be smart. It’s always good to have a NA drink option around, and I’m having trouble deciding which of these two I should make; saffron and cardamom lemonade or tea thyme soda.
This is my extremely reliable hummus recipe that I starting making regularly after returning from Israel last summer. With a few tweaks, it is rich and healthy and makes a perfect all day snack when paired with pita, carrots, bell peppers, and whatever other crunchy vegetables you like. (What tweaks, you ask? I do 1 cup tahini, 6T lemon juice, 6 cloves of garlic, and 4T ice water.)
A couple weeks ago, we went to the beach. I’ve told you about the beach house before, and this trip was no exception to the perfection that is that little slice of heaven on the Oregon coast. We went for our friend Walt’s birthday: there were three couples, and of course the second order of business was what are we going to be eating ? (The first was “ARE THE PUPPIES COMING?!”) We each decided to tackle one major meal while we were there, which I’ve found is a nice way to plan cooking with friends – no communal google docs full of recipes and grocery lists and confusion about who is bringing what.
For our one dinner together, Walt smoked a pork shoulder and his girlfriend Kylie made this delicious Asian slaw. It was tangy, crunchy, and refreshing, a perfect complement to the smoky rich pork (which we used to make bahn mi). I knew I needed to recreate it at home, and that it would quickly become a staple in our kitchen, since we eat a lot of Asian food.
I loved Kylie’s slaw, but per her suggestion, wanted to jazz it up a bit. I added sliced mango and salted roasted cashews, but the possibilities are endless – grated carrots, mint, cilantro, peanuts, mandarin slices, etc. We paired our slaw with some easy tofu, pressed and marinated in canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, and orange juice, then baked. It was an easy and delicious meal. My favorite kind.
Asian Slaw with Ramen Noodles
1 large head of napa cabbage
1 package of instant ramen noodles (flavor doesn’t matter – you won’t be using the flavor pack)
1 ripe mango
1/2 cup cashews, salted & roasted
3 Tbl rice vinegar
3 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl toasted sesame oil
Optional additions: sriracha, mint, mandarin slices, peanuts, cilantro, grated carrots.
Chop cabbage into bite-sized pieces. I cut mine in half lengthwise, then in half again lengthwise, and then sliced it horizontally from there. Rinse and dry, and put in a large bowl.
Crush up the ramen noodles and set aside. Cut the mango into slices or chunks, whichever you prefer, and set that aside as well.
I like to mix my salad dressings in a small jar – no whisking, just shaking – but you can make yours in a bowl if you like. In whatever vessel you choose, combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Whisk or shake until thoroughly mixed. Taste and adjust ingredients as you like.
Add the mango to the cabbage. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and mango and toss to coat. Let it sit for a minute. You can add the ramen noodles and cashews now, or top each serving individually. I will warn you though, that if you add the ramen to the salad and you have leftovers, those noodles will lose their crunch.
Serve, dotted with sriracha if you’d like, and enjoy.
Moms are cute. My mom especially, is very cute. I’ve told you about her, right? Last weekend Jonah and I went out to Cannon Beach with my mom and her boyfriend and my baby sister and my sister’s girlfriend, and we had a lovely weekend, and then my mom proceeded to send us home with two boxes of food. (Because she’s a mom and that’s what moms do, they give you food.) She tried to give us much more. She was going through the kitchen saying things like “Do you want some cream cheese?” (No.) “How about some romaine hearts?” (Yes.)
We got home around 8:30pm on Saturday, and all I wanted was food. And we had food. Lots of it. Thanks, Mom. I’ve had grilled romaine hearts at restaurants, and figured it can’t be that hard to make, can it? You guys, it was so good. Why have I been waiting this long to grill romaine hearts? It was super easy. The grilling softened and warmed the romaine, but retained some of that famous crunch. The eggs were perfectly cooked, if I do say so myself, the dressing was salty and tangy, and the breadcrumbs brought a great crispiness.
Grilled Romaine Salad
1 romaine heart per person
1-2 9-minute eggs per person (details below)
toasted bread crumbs to garnish
Heat your grill. Slice the romaine hearts in half lengthwise. Brush with oil. Grill until slightly charred and wilted, flipping, and repeating on the other side.
To make 9 minute eggs, bring a small pot of water with a sprinkling of baking soda to a boil. Lower in as many eggs as you are making using a spoon, slotted or otherwise. Boil for 9 minutes, drain, and rinse in cold water to cool. (As far as the eggs to, I have come to rely on this article/image from Bon Appetit as a guide for how long I should cook my eggs.)
Make the dressing by combining the ingredients in a jar and shaking until thoroughly combined.
To serve, drizzle the dressing over the romaine hearts, top with sliced 9-minute eggs, and a heavy sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Enjoy.