Spring Salad Season: Crunchy Thai Tofu Salad

Crunchy Chopped Thai Peanut Tofu Salad Vertical

Spring is here, the nights are warmer and longer, and I’m in full-on SALAD MODE. Watch out, world.

This Crunchy Thai Tofu Salad is somewhat similar to some of my other recipes for sure. I throw together slaws and salads like this a lot, but the one I made tonight turned out especially well if I do say so myself. (I’m not alone, Rob also thought it was a step above my usual big salads.) What’s different? There’s no quinoa or grains here, just ALL CRUNCH, utilizing as many fresh vegetables as possible. I’ve added tofu for some more protein and texture, and incorporated yet more delicious, fiber-filled vegetables. Plus the addition of curry paste to my dressing really amped things up.

Crunchy Thai Peanut Tofu Salad

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Southwest Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken

Southwest Shredded Slow Cooker Chicken

Some of my friends and I are in a Bachelor fantasy league. Feel free to make fun of me, I don’t care. It’s awesome and a legit excuse to drink a questionable about of wine on a weeknight. It’s kind of like fantasy football, but we “draft” the hot messes from each season of the Bachelor franchise and then hate-watch and track whose players earn the most points (from achievements like “revealing a sob story,” “secretly has a kid,” “hot tub bonus make out” etc.).

We take turns hosting – whoever is on weekly host duty is also in charge of dinner. I hosted the premiere last week and needed to make a big batch of healthy food – and this southwest spiced chicken was perfect. I was able to prep everything the night before, throw the chicken in the slow cooker before work the morning of, and when I came home dinner was basically done.

Now that is worth some major bonus “hot tub make out” points. (If by “hot tub” we mean “slow cooker” and “make out” we mean “cooking.”)

Southwest Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken

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Thai Peanut Chicken Salad

Thai Chicken Peanut Salad

So as I recently mentioned, like every other overly indulgent American, I’m ramping up my resolutions and getting back on the healthy track after a gluttonous holiday season. This means lots of salads, but as we know, I LOVE salads so this isn’t really a punishment for me.

This salad features all the aspects of Thai food that we know and love – it incorporates sour, sweet, tangy, spicy. You have tons of vegetables, protein from the chicken and nuts, but also a nice addition of… papaya! Try to get green papaya if you can, I thought I bought a green one but when I peeled it, it was definitely ripe and orange inside. How can you tell when a papaya is green versus ripe? This is something I should look into.

Thai Peanut Chicken Salad

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Carrot Surprise

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When the temperature hit 90 degrees here in DC last week, it was clear that time for spring planting was upon us.  Mercifully, this week has brought some slightly cooler weather, but it seems that the time of hard frost has passed, and I am itching for some home-grown arugula.  With lots of “help” from my two-year-old, I began pulling up the weeds from our two raised-bed gardens and in addition to foot-deep dandelion roots, we unearthed-surprise!-some carrots.  Ah yes, I do seem to remember planting those at some point last year.

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Some of the carrots were clearly past their prime, but a handful were still surprisingly orange and crunchy.   I knew that these semi-miraculous winter survivors deserved some special treatment, so I decided to make a carrot-cashew salad that I had enjoyed at book club a few weeks before.  I even went so far as to (gasp) purchase some ingredients specifically for the recipe.  Served over curried chickpeas and rice, this little salad was the perfect inauguration to a summer of homegrown produce.

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Shredded Carrot and Cashew Nut Salad

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Autumnal Salad: Orange, Avocado and Cilantro

Guest blogger Jack Mauro brings ES a recipe that proves salad season doesn’t have to end.

Though the temperature is dropping lower and lower with each passing day, it doesn’t mean you have to rearrange your diet around chilis, stews and hot porridge. A delicious means of sneaking summer sunshine into the shortened days, autumnal salads are a light meal that whets an appetite as well as provides necessary nutrition for the upcoming season. We like incorporating fresh citrus into our salads as the boost in vitamin C can mean the difference between being knocked out by the flu, and winning the neighborhood snowball fight. Ramp up the flavor by making your own dressing from scratch—whisking gourmet vinegar and unusual olive oil together with subtle citrus tones.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 head green & purple lettuce, roughly torn
  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into medallions
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
  • ¼ cup sliced pitted green and black olives

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons blood orange olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

    1. Toss lettuce, oranges, avocado, onion, cilantro, and olives in a medium bowl
    2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over salad and toss gently. Serve immediately. Makes salad for four.

(Photo: CAC)

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Chenopod Cooking: Spicy Coconut Kale Quinoa

When it comes to side dishes, I’m a creature of habit. I’m obsessed with dark, leafy greens like kale and chard. I’m also really into quinoa lately. Fun fact, ES friends: did you know quinoa isn’t a grain? It’s a “chenopod” (What is that? Real talk: I’m not sure.) Apparently, it’s more closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweed. Maybe tumbleweed will be the next hot food trend! You heard it here first.

Anyway, since I use quinoa so much in my cooking, I need to find ways to keep it interesting. One of my favorite methods is to cook it in coconut milk rather than water or broth, which gives it a slightly creamier texture. To balance out the sweetness of the coconut, I add lots of salt and spices. This is a very adaptable base; you can mix in whatever herbs and vegetables you desire.

Spicy Coconut Kale Quinoa

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A Salsa for Summer: Grilled Watermelon and Feta

As I get older and now that I have life all figured out (Ha!  Sense the sarcasm, folks), I am less embarrassed about stuff. I used to be the girl who turned beet red and just about died from humiliation over the tiniest things.  Now, if I trip in front of you (I most likely will) I’ll just smile and wave.  Saying something stupid?  I do it on the daily.  I’m okay with it.

The one thing I am consistently still embarrassed over is my iPod music selection. The worst part is that I voluntarily put all the crazy embarrassing music on there. Just to give you a taste, there are about 300 songs including Pitbull (face getting red), assorted 90’s rappers (getting redder), maybe some country (eyes closed in shame) and a butt-load of Glee renditions (maximum levels of musical embarrassment reached).  I’m just gonna tell you, I sometimes roll my eyes when listening to my iPod alone.  I need an intervention.

Why am I discussing this with you today?  Well, I had some willing taste-testers hanging around my kitchen while I made this killer salsa aaaaand my iPod was on the speaker dock. So, when I think about this salsa, I will forever associate it with the delicious flavors of fresh watermelon with a grilled char and tangy feta, along with the ear raping sounds of Miley Cyrus.  Oy.  Y’all, forget I wrote this, okay?

Grilled Watermelon & Feta Salsa

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