Vermicelli Noodle Stir-fry Salad

This is similar to this Salad-Roll Salad but it’s quicker and even more versatile. Here bean thread noodles are combined with quickly stir-fried vegetables (and meat if you like), fresh herbs and a bright fish sauce, lime dressing. You can change the ratio of noodles to vegetables/herbs to suit your likes and needs.

And a fully loaded version with lots of toppings.

Bean thread noodles aka mung bean, cellophane, glass or vermicelli noodles are made with mung bean starch. They are a popular noodle in Chinese cuisine. They’re quick to prepare and can be used in salads, stir-frys and soups.

 

Variations

  • for a vegan version omit the fish sauce and increase the amount of soy sauce, to taste
  • add thinly sliced, grilled steak or chicken
  • add fried or baked tofu or tempeh
  • serve with just hard-cooked eggs
  • substitute sauteed sweet peppers, eggplant, green beans, bok choi, or other vegetables you have on hand for the cabbage, carrots, etc.
  • add celtuce (either sauteed or raw)

 

Serves 4

 

2 1/2 – 3 ounces bean threads (or less if you want a higher ratio of vegetables)

2 tablespoons oil

4 cups shredded cabbage

2 carrots or 1 kohlrabi thinly sliced

2 cups broccoli or broccoli raab, chopped fairly small

2 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds removed (if watery) and slice thinly crosswise

1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh herbs such a cilantro, basil, mint, roughly chopped

2/3 cup roasted peanuts or 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar or honey

1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno or serrano or 1-2 teaspoons sambal oelek or spicy chili crisp

 

In a bowl soak bean thread noodles in very hot water, to cover, about 5 minutes and drain well in a colander, rinse briefly with cold water. With scissors cut noodles into 3 to 4-inch lengths and put in serving bowl. Cutting the noodles makes tossing them with all the vegetables much easier.

 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add carrots, cabbage, broccoli and saute, stirring often until browning in parts and softening. Season with a few pinches of salt and continue stir-frying until reduced in volume and just tender, about 5 minutes. You can do this in 2 pans if you have too much volume of vegetables.

 

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Toss 2 tablespoons of the dressing with the cooled bean thread noodles. Add the cooked vegetables, the cucumber and scallions, herbs and peanuts and the remainder of the dressing. Toss well and adjust seasoning to taste with more lime juice, fish/soy sauce and chili.

Cook-with-what-you-Have Green Salad

Salads are superb templates. Sometimes all you need is a few greens lightly dressed. But sometimes a slightly more substantial green salad with crunch, a little sweetness, and maybe a little spice is in order.  In the winter you might make this heartier one.

 

You will need to taste and adjust your version to balance the tart and sweet and crunch as ingredients vary widely. Add a pinch of sugar if your dried fruit is quite tart.

 

Variations

  • Use thinly sliced sweet peppers, snap or snow peas, kohlrabi, celery or cucumbers instead of or in addition to the carrots.
  • Add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Use whatever toasted seeds or nuts (roughly chopped) you have.
  • Substitute large, toasted bread crumbs or small croutons for the nuts/seeds

 

Serves 4

 

8 cups romaine or other head lettuce of your choice or a combination of arugula and lettuce

2 medium carrots, grated

2 scallions, white and green parts very thinly sliced

1/2 cup tender herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 cup toasted almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts or pecans, roughly chopped or pumpkin or sunflower seeds

1/3 cup dates, chopped (or dried apricots, cranberries, golden raisins)

1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno or other fresh hot pepper (or add some chili flakes or dried chili to the dressing)

 

Dressing:

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or vinegar of your choice or lemon juice), more to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil, more to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

Put all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and toss well, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.

Spicy Stir-fried Noodles with Bok Choi (w/ or w/out bacon)

Quick, spicy and delicious, these noodles are similar to these but don’t call for mushrooms or eggs. Any quick cooking green works well but the crunchy bok choi stems are really nice here. If you have the ever-more-popular spicy chili crisp condiment, this is the place to use it! You can use fresh ramen noodles (above & below) or any long, skinny dried noodle.

And a bacon-free version w/ carrots, snap peas & mustard greens.

 

Variations

  • Skip the bacon
  • Substitute whatever quick-cooking greens you have for the bok choi
  • Substitute snap, snow or shelling peas, finely chopped kohlrabi or any chopped radishes for the carrots
  • Reduce the amount of chili flakes for a milder version

 

Serves 3-4

 

12 ounces fresh or dried noodles

1 tablespoon oil (divided)

2 slices bacon (about 2 ounces), diced

2 teaspoons fresh, minced or grated ginger (micro-plane works well)

2 large cloves garlic, minced or grated on micro-plane

1 medium carrot, halved or quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

1 large head (or 3-4 baby) bok choi, stems and leaves thinly sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2-4 teaspoons spicy chili crisp or make your own, or substitute 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes plus 2 more teaspoons oil and another teaspoon soy or fish sauce

Chopped cilantro, for serving (optional)

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water, drain again and put in a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons oil and set aside.

 

Combine the soy and fish sauces, toasted sesame oil and spicy chili crisp or whatever you’re using as a substitute in a small bowl and set aside.

 

Meanwhile, heat just a little oil in a large, heavy or non-stick skillet over high heat. Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes to begin rendering the fat. Add the ginger and garlic and turn down to medium-high and saute for just a minute. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes stirring regularly to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.  Turn the heat back up to high, add the bok choi stems and saute for 1-2 minutes. Then add the greens. If the pan is at all dry add a little more oil. Stir-fry just long enough for leaves to wilt then add the drained noodles and the soy sauce mixture and combine well. Cook, incorporating everything evenly for 30-60 seconds to heat everything through.

 

Serve hot, topped with cilantro if you’d like.

 

 

Radish, Pea, Asparagus, Turnip Salad with Mint

I think of this as my spring-time Greek salad–chunks of crunchy vegetables, spring onions, fresh herbs and feta, red wine vinegar and olive oil.

 

Variations:

  • Mix and match your vegetables
  • Delicious herbs that you can add to suit your taste are parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives or any combo.
  • Substitute 1/3 cup toasted seeds or nuts for the feta.

 

Serves 4

 

1 bunch radishes, washed, trimmed and cut into chunks

2-3 Japanese salad turnips (Hakurei turnips), washed, trimmed and cut into chunks

1 spring onion or about 1/4 cup any onion you have, chopped

4-5 asparagus spears, washed and thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 cup snap peas, strings removed and cut into thirds

Handful of mint leaves, chopped (see variations)

A little fresh or dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 ounces feta, crumbled (see variations)

 

Put all the ingredients, except the feta, in a bowl. Toss well, taste and adjust seasoning with vinegar and/or salt or oil. Gently toss in feta and serve.

 

 

Fennel, Peppers and Farro

This is hearty, savory and very adaptable. This dish materialized thanks to already cooked farro and a variety of vegetables in need of using up, including cauliflower leaves. If your grains are already cooked this comes together quite quickly. I had some homemade harissa on hand which elevated it further. I topped this particular version with meatballs.

 

Variations

  • Make this your own with whatever grain you’d like–spelt, barley, rye, wheat berries and different spices.
  • Vegetables like collard greens and kale are great to use in place of or with the cauliflower leaves and spices.

Serves 4

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 medium fennel bulbs, any ratty outer layers removed, and bulbs chopped

2-3 sweet peppers, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional–taste a little bit of it first to evaluate heat level as they vary wildly) and use however much you’d like

2 teaspoons smoked paprika (pimenton)

4 cups cauliflower leaves, chopped (optional–see variations)

1/2 cup diced tomato, fresh or canned with juice

2 1/2 cups *cooked farro

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon harissa (optional–see headnote)

Olive oil, for finishing

 

*Cook 1 cup farro in 3 cups water with 1/2 teaspoon salt, covered for about 25-35  minutes, until some kernels burst open and they’re tender. Drain, and set aside.

 

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, peppers and a few pinches of salt. Sauté, stirring often, until vegetables soften. Add pimenton, cauliflower leaves or other greens, if using, and tomato, bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 7-8 minutes. If it looks at all dry add a little water or more tomato, if you have it. Add the cooked farro and cook for a few more minutes, to warm through. Stir in harissa, if using, taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Serve hot or warm with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

One-pot Tomato and Sausage (or Bean) Pasta with Greens

15 minutes, start to finish, adaptable and delicious and a good reason for having canned tomatoes and small pasta shapes in the pantry. You can use larger shapes and more of it (more like 3 cups of penne).

This version uses tender spring raab for the greens.

 

Variations

  • You can substitute cooked beans/chickpeas for the sausage, to make a meat-free version.
  • You can use parsley instead of basil
  • Delicious choices for tender greens are spring raab, spinach, chard, turnip, beet greens and/or tender kale greens. Enjoy in any combination.
  • Use fresh tomatoes instead of canned
  • Other great small noodle choices are Pipette rigate, Conchiglie (shell), or Orecchiette.

Serves 4

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 cloves garlic, minced

2 (spicy) pork sausages, sliced into rounds and then cut into half-rounds or crumbled (I keep sausages in the freezer which makes them easy to cut) or 2 cups cooked or canned, drained beans

1 1/3 cups tubetti or ditalini (see variations)

1 28-oz can tomatoes, juice and all, or 3 1/2 cups diced, fresh tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt (if your tomatoes are salted and you’re using a spicy sausage you may only need 1/4 teaspoon)

1 bunch tender greens, washed and finely chopped (see variations)

Fresh basil or parsley (optional)

Grated Parmesan (optional)

Drizzle of olive oil, to finish

 

Heat the oil in a large skillet, for which you have a lid, over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and sausage (or cooked beans) and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add pasta, tomatoes, salt and water and stir well. Cover and bring to a simmer. Stir again to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick. Cover again and cook for 8 minutes or until pasta is almost tender. Add the greens and incorporate well. Cook for another minute or two until just tender and sauce is thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil and serve with fresh herbs and Parmesan, if you’d like.

 

Miso and Cider Vinegar Roasted Winter Vegetables

miso-roasted-squash-carrot-onion

miso-roasted-squash-onion-carrot-prep-ii

 

 

Variations

  • Use whatever combination of winter roots, tubers and squash you have on hand.
  • Toss in some chunks of onion for variety.
  • Skip the fresh herbs if you don’t have any as it’s nice and bright even without.

 

Serves 4

 

1 delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and strings scraped out and then cut into quarters lengthwise and then crosswise into chunks

4-5 medium carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into 1/3-inch slices on the bias

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 generous tablespoon white miso

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 small serrano pepper, minced

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

 

Spread the vegetables on a sheet pan. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the salt, in a small bowl and drizzle over the vegetables. Be sure to use all the dressing/marinade and toss the vegetables so they are evenly coated. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring several times during the roasting, until the vegetables are tender and browning in spots. Toss with the herbs, if using, taste and adjust seasoning with salt if needed. Serve hot or warm.

Mizuna and Scallion Pancakes

Light, bright and tender. . . these are such a treat. I typically serve mizuna raw in salads or added to soups at the very end. In this preparation they stay really fresh despite the quick visit to the pan.

 

Variations

  • Use mustard greens, spinach, salad turnip tops or any other very tender green–chard and kale are a bit too robust for this one unless they’re really young and tender.

 

Yields about 10 4-inch pancakes

 

3 eggs

1/4 cup flour

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 bunch mizuna, washed and shaken dry, roots discarded and stems and leaves chopped

1 small bunch scallions, trimmed and white and green parts thinly sliced

Oil for pan frying

 

Optional Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons Sriracha or other chili sauce

 

In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the flour, salt and sesame oil until smooth. Stir in the mizuna and scallions. The batter will just barely coat the vegetables.

 

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large heavy skillet. Cook patties, about 1/3 cup each, until golden brown on both sides, just a couple minutes on each side. Serve with optional sauce.

Eggy Quesadilla

Years ago the wonderful Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com posted a version of this dish that has inspired me ever since. I make variations of this simple concept–a beaten egg in a skillet, covered after a few seconds with a corn tortilla, then flipped over and topped with herbs, cheese, beans, veggies, . . . then folded in half and cooked for another minute.

 

You can also make these with flour tortillas, if that’s what you have on hand or if you want to feed more people. Use at least 2 eggs for a large flour tortilla, and a larger skillet.

 

Watch a quick video of me making this with my son, if you’d like a tutorial.

 

I usually use an 8-inch skillet which works perfectly for my 6-inch corn tortillas. You want the skillet to be just a little bigger than the tortillas so the pan contains the egg to the size of your tortilla but still enables you to flip it easily.

 

Variations:

  • Add finely chopped cooked vegetables or shredded meat
  • Substitute flour for corn tortillas (see Headnote)
  • Any melty cheese will work

 

Serves 1

 

A little oil

1 egg, lightly beaten with a pinch or two of salt

1 corn tortilla (I usually use 6-inch ones or slightly larger which work well with one egg. If you have larger, flour tortillas, you’ll need 2 eggs and can feed more people with)

A bit of cheese (anything you’d like–I usually use sharp cheddar as that’s what I keep on hand), thinly sliced or grated

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, chives, basil, tarragon, . . .)

A little minced scallion or onion (optional)

2 tablespoons cooked beans (optional)

A little hot sauce of choice (optional)

 

Heat a little oil in a small skillet that is as close to the circumference of the tortilla as possible (see headnote) over medium heat. Pour in the egg and tilt pan to cover evenly. After about 10-20 seconds, when the bottom of the egg is set but the top is still runny, lay the tortilla on the egg and press down gently. The egg will cook into the tortilla and adhere to it. If the tortilla lifts up in places just gently hold it down with a spatula.

 

After about 30 second, or when you can tell the egg is just about cooked through, carefully loosen the edges (if they’re sticking a bit) and flip the whole thing over. Now cover half the eggy side with the toppings, starting with the cheese, and evenly sprinkling the herbs over the cheese, finishing with a little hot sauce.

 

Now flip the empty half over the filled half and press down gently. Let cook for another 30 seconds to melt the cheese and just warm things through.

 

Serve warm and enjoy!

Kale and Mustard Green Salad with Peanut Dressing

 

This salad is strong, vivid and almost rich thanks to the peanut dressing. You can use a variety of greens in this flexible template (see Variations below).

 

Variations:

  • Substitute mizuna or napa cabbage
  • Add sorrel, tender collard greens, or arugula, as I did here
  • Cucumbers would be a nice addition

 

Serves 4, generously

 

1/2 bunch kale, well washed and any tough stems trimmed and then cut as thinly as you can

1/2 bunch mustard greens

1-2 medium carrots, grated on the large holes of a box grater (optional—but pretty and a nice sweet addition) and/or a few radishes, grated

¾ cup fresh mint, chopped

3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

 

Peanut/Sesame Dressing:

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoons tahini (optional—I like the combination very much though)

2-3 tablespoons hot water

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

1 tablespoon lime juice, plus more to taste

1 clove garlic, minced

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Salt, to taste (you may not need any at all)

¼ -1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes (or more if you want a bit more heat) or 1/2 a jalapeño minced

 

Toss the chopped greens, mint and the peanuts together in a large bowl.

 

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Loosen with a little more hot water if too thick but be sure not to make it too runny or the salad will be watery.

 

Pour two-thirds of the dressing over the salad and toss well, making sure you’re really covering the kale well. You might want to  use your hands–messy but fun and effective. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Ratatouille

 

I love the time of year when I can make ratatouille, when sweet peppers, eggplant, summer squash and tomatoes are all at their peak–usually beginning early August and lasting until mid-to late September. In my cook-with-what-you-have version quantities are easily adapted and the ratios are not critical so scale up or down as needed. It is important to cook some of the vegetables separately so that you don’t crowd the pans and steam them rather than sautéing them. You want the browning and sweetness that comes with direct contact with the hot skillet.

 

It is a rich, stew-like dish in which the vegetables all break down a bit. It is not beautiful but it is GOOD! Serve with some good crusty bread, another salad, a frittata or some such. It’s even better the next day and delicious at room temperature as well.

 

Variations:

  • In a pinch, substitute cilantro, chives, or parsley for the basil

 

Serves 4-6

 

4 medium tomatoes, diced

1 large eggplant, diced (no need to peel)

1 onion, cut into large dice

3 medium summer squash, sliced or diced

2 sweet peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

Olive oil

Handful of torn basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt

Good olive oil for serving

 

1. Heat some olive oil in two large skillets over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers to one pan and the zucchini to the other. Sprinkle all with a bit of salt. Cook both on high heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently and then turn down to medium high and continue sautéing until softened and browning just a bit. When the zucchini is just about tender remove it from the pan and reserve.

 

2. Add a bit more oil and add the eggplant and a bit more salt. You can keep the peppers and onions sautéing on medium while the eggplant cooks. When the eggplant is tender and browning, add half of it to the pepper and onion pan and divide the zucchini between the pans–or if you have space put it all in one pan now. Now add the tomato to both (or just the one pan) and bring to a lively simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to marry the flavors and soften the tomatoes.

 

3. Add the garlic and basil and cook for 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm (but not hot) or at room temperature with a drizzle of good olive oil.