Edamame Sushi Bowl with Wasabi Dressing

I have come to realize that 72% of the time when I think  I’m craving sushi, I’m in fact craving straight up wasabi.

It’s not that I don’t looove sushi in its many glorious forms but it’s the wasabi that really brings the whole thing together for me. I love the stuff. It’s a completely different type of spicy that I totally dig.

I even love that eye-watering moment when you’ve gotten a little too much and your sinuses are magically the clearest they’ve felt in months. Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff.

I know not everyone shares my crazylove for Japanese horseradish (I mean, clearly I’m some sort of spice sadist. Whatevs.) But if you do like the flavor, you have to try this salad with wasabi dressing. The dressing isn’t at eye-watering level (I’m not a monster!) but it’s undoubtedly wasabi-flavored.

The combination of traditional sushi roll vegetables like carrots and avocado topped with sesame seeds and a wasabi and soy dressing completely satisfy my sushi/wasabi cravings from the comfort of my own home.

It’s a salad that holds up well if you want to take it as a work week lunch or on a picnic – and it’s best at room temperature.

This version of the salad is vegan-friendly, but I’m dreaming about a gorgeous medium-rare piece of grilled salmon on top of this situation sometime soon.

Edamame Sushi Bowl (serves 2)
inspired by Sushi Roll Edamame Salad from Appetite for Reduction
– 1 cup cooked brown rice
– 1 medium carrot, shredded
– 1 cup shredded kale
– 1/2 cup shelled edamame (defrosted)
– 1/2 avocado, cut into bite-sized chunks
– 1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Place rice, carrot, kale and edamame in a bowl and toss well with 1-2 tablespoons of the wasabi dressing (below) top with avocado and toasted sesame seeds and serve with additional dressing (if desired.)

Wasabi Salad Dressing (warning: packs a punch!)
– 1 teaspoon wasabi paste
– 1 teaspoon soy sauce
– 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
– 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Place all ingredients in a small jar or bowl and mix well until everything is blended together.

Kale and Quinoa Waldorf Salad

Did I just visit the Wikipedia page for the Waldorf salad? Yes, yes I did. What OF IT?

Truth is, I was trawling for fun facts. I LOVE a good random fact – my favorites are historical and very trivial – making them good for nothing except dominating a couple of Jeopardy categories if I’m lucky.

My limited research on the Waldorf salad didn’t unearth much more than the obvious – that the salad was invented at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York around 1896. (By a man named Oscar!)

Useless facts aside, here’s a lightened up version of the famous salad. It still has the signature crunch and sweetness of a Waldorf without the heavy dressing (I used a little Greek yogurt with a Dijon vinaigrette instead of the usual mayo business) and added bonus powerhouse foods like kale and quinoa.

Kale and Quinoa Waldorf Salad (serves 4 as a side)
– 3 cups of kale leaves, de-stemmed and finely shredded
– 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
– 1 small or medium-sized apple (I used a Pink Lady) sliced into bite-sized chunks
– 1 celery rib, finely chopped
– 1/4 cup golden raisins
– 1/4 cup toasted walnuts

– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
– 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
– salt & pepper

Mix dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or jar and set aside.

Place kale, quinoa, apple, celery and raisins together in a bowl. Pour on dressing a little bit at a time, tossing well to combine. The kale softens a little with the dressing – which is a good thing if using Tuscan kale – so this salad can be dressed for to 2 or 3 hours before serving. Otherwise let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes and top with toasted walnuts before serving.

Make it a meal with: 1/2 cup more quinoa and 1/2-1 cup of chickpeas
Make it meaty with: grilled or roast chicken and/or bacon

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Lunch Today: Wheat Berry Sweet Potato Salad

with Za’atar and Roasted Garlic Dressing

A full 24 hours of travel awaits me and I couldn’t be more excited.

Flying over an ocean and a whole country to get to the people I love the most, is a small price to pay.

Not to brag or anything, but I’m a good flyer. I kind of love it. I mean, I don’t loooove sitting in the same spot for 12 hours. But I like airports, buying new books and magazines and in-flight entertainment. I like the excitement of going somewhere. Somewhere new or old. Loved or unknown. It’s a thrill.

And going back to New York tomorrow might be one of my biggest thrills yet. We moved to the other side of the world 8 months ago and I’ve missed my side every minute since. Missed my people, mostly.

And now I am bursting with happiness in anticipation of touching down in JFK.

New York or bust.

Za’atar and Roasted Garlic Dressing
– 4-6 cloves roasted garlic (I used 4 abnormally large cloves)
– salt
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon za’atar
– 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

To roast garlic: Heat oven to 200 C/ 400 F. Chop off the woody bottom of a head of garlic and place on an oiled piece of foil. Wrap the foil around the head of garlic and roast for 30-40 minutes until the cloves are golden and soft.

Squeeze garlic out of the husks and mash up with a pinch of salt. Place olive oil in a small pan over a medium-low heat. Heat until oil is warm but don’t boil. Stir in za’atar and mashed garlic, remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes and pour in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar.

Wheat Berry Sweet Potato Salad
(serves 2)
– 1 medium sweet potato
– 1 tablespoon za’atar
– olive oil
– 1 1/2 cups wheat berries, cooked
– 1 cup kale, shredded finely
– 2 tablespoons feta
– 1-2 tablespoons dried cranberries
– 2 tablespoons toasted almonds, roughly chopped
– 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Cook wheat berries: Place 3/4 cup dry wheat berries in a sauce pan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40-45 minutes until wheat berries are soft but with a chewy, al dente bite to them. Place wheat berries in a colander over the sink to dry.

Roast sweet potato: preheat oven to 220 C/425 F. Cut sweet potato into 1 inch/2.5 cm chunks. Toss with olive oil and za’atar. Cook for 20-25 minutes until sweet potato is soft.

Mix wheat berries, sweet potato, kale, feta and cranberries together with the dressing, tossing well to combine. Top with chopped almonds and sesame seeds. Serve warm, at room temp or cold.

Sauteed Kale with Artichokes and Anchovy Breadcrumbs

Kale has been hard to find in Australia, so when I came across it last week I bought two huge bunches and ate it like a maniac every single day until I ran out.

My inspiration for this kale dish was pure Melissa Clark and it was a favorite from a week of chronic kale consumption.

I’m loving reading through Cook This Now. Besides Melissa’s helpful tips, suggestions, and warm guidance in the kitchen – her love of anchovies wasn’t lost on me. I have been meaning to incorporate these wimpy fish into my cooking more. I knew they have a lot of potential, I just never took the time to figure out how to use them properly.

After reading her Asparagus with Anchovy Breadcrumbs and Tuscan Kale with Garlic recipes, that was it. I went out the next day and bought myself a tin.

The key to this dish IS Melissa’s anchovy breadcrumbs. When you cook the anchovies, they end up disintegrating in the pan, leaving only a rich savory flavor that makes a perfect foil for the mild kale and lemony artichoke hearts.

If you’re not down with anchovies – hey, I get it – you don’t have to include them. (A little grating of Parmesan or Pecorino wouldn’t go amiss in this case.)

But if you’re curious about using anchovies more, this is a great way to test the waters.

Give it a whirl, I’m 95% sure you won’t regret it.

Kale with Artichokes and Breadcrumbs
adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now
(serves 2-4)

- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
– 1 anchovy fillet, finely chopped
– 1/4 cup bread crumbs (either homemade or store-bought)
– 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
– 4-5 cups of kale, shredded
– 6-7 jarred or canned artichokes, quartered
– juice of half a lemon
– salt & pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add anchovy fillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until dissolved into the oil.

Add breadcrumbs and coat in the anchovy oil, cook for 3-4 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan over a medium high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in kale and allow to wilt for about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in artichokes and cook for about 2 minutes, just enough to warm them through. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and top with breadcrumbs. Serve warm.

Miso-Curry Roasted Squash

I have probably mentioned my love for Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks before. It was one of the first food blogs I started reading and has been a constant inspiration to my cooking. This will come as no surprise to fellow food bloggers, as Heidi has been blogging since 2003 and earning well-deserved recognition and awards ever since.

Her photos and creative whole food recipes never fail to excite me and get me thinking. The way Heidi combines flavors and presents quality produce makes vegetarian cooking look gorgeous, easy and fun.

I’ve been flagging my new copy of Super Natural Everyday for a couple of weeks now and it’s gone straight out of control. I can see myself cooking everything and can’t wait to do so.

The first recipe I tried was miso-curry roasted squash. I love the idea of blending these different Asian flavors to generously coat squash, potatoes and tofu in. Roasted vegetables combined with bold red curry and miso pastes make this dish a rich and complex combination of bright, warming flavors.

I stuck to her original recipe pretty closely, but I am eager to try this spice paste on carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes and even fish. I served this as a main, but I think it would work as a side without the tofu.

Miso-Curry Squash
Adapted slightly from Super Natural Everyday
(serves 2-4)

- 1/4 cup white miso paste
– 1 heaping tablespoon red curry paste
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 4-5 small chat potatoes, quartered
– 1/2 cup tofu, cut into small cubes
– 1 tablespoons white vinegar
– 2 cups kale, finely shredded
– 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
– a big handful of chopped cilantro and Thai basil, combined.

Preheat oven to 400F/200c

In a small bowl, combine the miso paste, red curry paste and olive oil.

In a large bowl toss the squash, potatoes and tofu with 2/3 of the miso paste mixture until everything is covered well. Spread this out onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until squash, potatoes and tofu are golden – tossing a couple of times to make sure everything gets evenly browned.

While this is baking, add vinegar and a teaspoon of warm water to the remaining miso paste mixture. Toss with kale to coat well.

Combine warm squash mixture with kale. Garnish with toasted pepitas, cilantro and basil. Serve warm

To toast pepitas: Place pepitas in a dry pan over a medium-low heat for about 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to distribute the heat. Take off the heat once golden.

Raw Silverbeet Salad, inspired by City Bakery

I worked at City Bakery in New York for a brief stint. They’re known for their hot chocolate (they allocate a different type of hot chocolate to each day of February! Insane!), handmade marshmallows, divinely buttery cookies and the invention of the pretzel croissant (oh dear lord, the pretzel croissant is perfection.)

I gained a few L.B.s that autumn. No big deal.

Oddly enough, my favorite part of working there was their lunch buffet, which we were given full access to on our breaks. Chef Ilene Rosen is responsible for this impressive savory spread that never failed to beautifully highlight seasonal vegetables. A mainstay of her salad bar is the raw kale salad. People love this dish. Rave about it. How does she make kale taste SO good?

I know that I have a strong affinity for all edible plants, but if ever a vegetable dish could be likened to crack – this would be it.

It’s so simple, but so perfect. Salty aged cheese with the fragrant crunch of hazelnuts, the sweetness and bite of a little red onion amidst a bed of dark emerald ribbons of kale.

Very romantic right?

I felt that a home made version was in order this week. Unfortunately, I cannot find kale in Sydney so I used silverbeet – that’s Swiss chard to my fellow Americans. I love kale, but this works just as well here. And truth be told, I think the good quality cheese and olive oil play a big roll in the crack-ishness of the dish.

Another thing I love about this salad is that it can be dressed hours before serving it. Because the silverbeet and kale leaves are much stronger than spinach or lettuce, they take on the olive oil gracefully – like they’re being marinated. You can of course eat it right away too – but I think it gets a little better after sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Raw Silverbeet Salad, City Bakery Style
(Serves 4 as a side)

- 6 cups-ish of silverbeet (or kale) leaves, center stems cut out and finely shredded*
– 1 small red onion or shallot, very thinly sliced
– 2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts
– 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 teaspoons white vinegar
– 1/4 cup good quality Parmesan or aged Gouda cheese, finely grated.
– salt&pepper
– pinch of red chilli flakes (optional)

Toast hazelnuts in a dry skillet on a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until golden and fragrant. Set aside.

Put silverbeet and sliced onion in a large mixing bowl, pour olive oil in and mix well (this coats the leaves so the cheese can stick to them). Add vinegar, chilli flakes, a little bit of salt* and a healthy grinding of black pepper. Toss again.

Add cheese in batches and toss, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Finally, add hazelnuts and dried cranberries. Serve within a few hours.

While the salad is perfect on its own, it also welcomes many different additions.
Some options:
– Toasted sesame seeds
– Granny Smith apple
– Red pepper, thinly sliced
– Avocado
– White beans

I would really recommend spending an extra minute making sure your silverbeet leaves are very finely shredded. Because the leaves are on the tougher side, the texture of the salad is much more enjoyable with thin ribbons of the bubbly leaves.

Only add a little salt, if any, of your own. The cheese will bring the saltiness.