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Rainbow Cole Slaw with Sesame Dressing

With the exception of a garlicky aioli accessorized by french fries, I am not a mayonnaise kind of girl. So when the cabbage shows up in the summer CSA box, cole slaw is not an option. At least not in the traditional sense. But over the years, this version, made delicious thanks to soy, sesame, and ginger flavors, is a standard go to.

This salad is an easy lunch or dinner side dish designed for the lives of busy families. You won’t regret having a large batch of this dressing on hand in the fridge, as it works just as well for a green salad as for this one. Pre-chop the vegetables a few hours in advance of pulling the salad together to make things go faster at mealtime. Or, mix it all up and let the cabbage soften and soak in the flavors of the dressing for a few hours. Pair with rice and potstickers or sautéed tofu and its a quick weeknight meal.

For maximum enjoyment, make this salad as colorful as you can. Rainbow carrots, green and purple cabbage, white diakon or turnips, black sesame seeds, dark green scallions. You get the picture.

PS Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Lentil Salad with Spring Vegetables and Goat Cheese

I’m addicted to grain/legume salads these days (see here, plus there will be more to come). Easy to whip up, a great way to use miscellaneous vegetables languishing and neglected in the crisper drawer, perfect for warm summer weather (which will come to SF at some point, right?). What’s not to like? In terms of a family dinner, this falls into the questionable category – dishes that I offer many times before they become a hit.  I’ll ask the girls to try a few bites of the regular version, but likely keep on hand the various ingredients in their separated form in case the “yuck” factor strikes. Aim for color with the vegetable mix and also crunch. Eventually they’ll come around. I hope!

Preparation

Serves 4-6

Mix 2-2.5 cups of cooked lentils*** (french or beluga lentils would be best here, or a mix) with 1-2 cups of mixed chopped vegetables. In my version, I used cooked fava beans, sliced cheery tomatoes, chopped hearts of palm for a tangy contrast, radishes, carrots, a few turnips. English or sugar snap peas would also be perfect additions, as would fresh corn, cucumber, bell peppers, etc. Add a combination of chopped herbs you have some on hand: parsley, cilantro, mint and tarragon would be great choices.s Toss with lemon juice or your favorite vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. If desired, add crumbled goat cheese, feta or Mexican cotija cheese.

Dressing please!

Version without cheese ready to serve

*** I tend to rely on Trader Joe’s prepared lentils to make this salad extra easy. If you don’t have access to this product, make your own:

Cooked Lentils

Place about 1 pound of french lentils to a large pot of water. Pierce a small onion with a few whole cloves (optional) and add it to the lentils, along with 3 dried bay leaves, and one large diced carrot. Cover by at least 2 inches of water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until lentil are soft but intact. Add more water if needed. Season with salt and pepper and drain.

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Vegetable and Whole Grain Salad with Preserved Lemons

My cousin introduced me to preserved lemons over bagels and lox earlier this year, and I came home from that visit totally hooked. I immediately picked a few up at the store, but my enthusiasm waned when I realized I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Luckily, my brilliant husband  suggested tossing them into a wonderful grain salad that we make as a vehicle to use up miscellaneous vegetables we have on hand. A citrus and olive oil dressing is all it needs – with a little harissa (Moroccan chili paste) to spike it if you love a spicier flavor like we do. I will say that I had no expectations of the girls enjoying this, and they didn’t even try it the first five times it appeared on the table. But the last time, without any prompting, curiosity got the best of them. They both tried a quinoa version, with favorable, if not exactly glowing, reviews.

Preparation

Preserved lemons can be found at most specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets. But they are also very easy to make at home (which is what I decided to do after using up the store-bought ones). They take about a month to cure in a dark pantry, then last for a long time in the fridge. David Lebovitz’s recipe is a good reference:

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/12/moroccan-preser-1/

Before

After!

Salad (serve 4-6 as a side dish)

Combine 2-3 cups or more of cooked quinoa (I love to combine the red and white varieties), farro, brown rice or another whole grain of choice with a mix of raw or gently cooked vegetables. In version pictured above, we lightly sautéed radicchio (any chicory adds wonderful flavor contrast). Red cabbage and carrots works great. As would arugula, small broccoli pieces, sautéed zucchini in summertime, etc. Chop the rind of preserved lemon into small pieces and add to salad. If you have fresh herbs on hand, throw those in too. Cilantro, parsley, mint and tarragon would all be good options. Toss with a light citrus dressing, salt and pepper and serve. This works great for a meal anytime of the year, and for picnics too, which are on my mind as we slowly inch our way toward warmer weather.