Raw Vegetable Salad with Tofu and Peanut Sauce

Imagine my poor gentleman’s dismay when he discovered that not only was it Monday (Meatless!), but that he was being served a completely RAW dinner?! The horror! Now, before I get to the recipe, I need to give credit to the inspiration. You will note this is described as “No Noodle Pad Thai.” Here’s why mine is called what it’s called: 1) I do have a spiralizer, but I clearly need a julienne peeler if I’m going to “noodle” any vegetable other than zucchini, so I really didn’t end up with much in the way of non-noodle-noodles; 2) while there was a lot that tied this recipe to a pad thai-like dish, to me, there were also some really delicious distinctions, so in conjunction with my minor modifications to the original ingredients, this really seemed more like a salad or slaw to me. Also worth noting, this was my first experience with handling daikon radish – mmm… I’m both impressed that I found it at my regular grocery store, and excited that it’s so simple to work with. New obsession!


This dish is perfect for a hot summer night when you don’t want to cook and you want only cold, light, and fresh food. It would work great for a potluck bbq or that type of meal – you’ll impress for sure. And by the way, you could easily un-Meatless this one, and add lightly sauteed thin-cut chicken strips or shrimp. Yummo. And now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, here you go.

* 3/4 lb daikon radish
* 4 medium carrots
* ~3 average-sized zucchinis
* ~8oz bean sprouts (my store was out of fresh (?!), so I used canned, which was fine, and can be found in the Asian section of your regular grocery)
* 4 green onions, sliced thin (both white and green parts)
* ~14oz extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
* small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
* 2T sesame seeds (plus extra for garnish)
* lime wedges

for the peanut sauce
* 1/2C peanut butter (or your preferred nut butter)
* 1/4 fresh squeezed lime juice (approximately 3 ripe, juicy limes)
* 2T low sodium soy sauce
* 2T honey
* 2t ginger paste (can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores; can also use fresh grated ginger)
* optional: pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
* 3T water

Peel your daikon radish and carrots, and then spiralize/julienne/painfully slowly-yet-meticulously slice your daikon, carrots, and zucchini to super thin strips (or zoodles, as it were). The author of my inspiration recipe had all the right tools on hand, and therefore prepped all of her veggies in no time at all. I spiralized my zucchini in a reasonable amount of time, and then spent about a half hour manually and desperately slowly sliced each carrot and a large daikon radish into strips. Either method is fine, depending on how much time and patience and sanity you have on hand.

Place the vegetables in a large serving bowl, and then add your bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro, and sesame seeds to them. Mix through a bit to combine so you don’t have a big pile of layered veggie strips. Finally, add the cubed tofu to the bowl as well.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients, adding the water last, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the consistency is thick but viscous. You want the peanut butter fully incorporated so that your sauce is smooth enough to drizzle. Adjust the seasonings to your taste (I added a bit more honey to tone down the soy sauce in mine).

Serve up a big bowl-ful of the salad, and then top with a generous scoop of sauce, and mix gently to combine (don’t break up your tofu – mix carefully!). This stores really well, so unless you think the whole recipe will be eaten at once, keep the salad undressed and simply portion it up serving by serving. Top each serving with a sprinkle of sesame seeds (or crumbled peanuts!), a little bit more chopped cilantro, and a wedge of fresh, juicy lime. Fresh, bright, light, and TASTY. My tiny sous chef loved it, too (bonus), and basically ate the sauce with a spoon… or her finger. That’s right, this is a finger-lickin’ good dish!


Chicken with Rainbow Veggies

This was inspired by a recipe that sold itself as a 15-minute complete dinner. However, the sales pitch left out the extensive prep work and short-changed the cook time by at least 10 minutes. I modified the recipe as well, and ended up with a different meal that I assure you will take longer than 15 minutes to prepare, but will definitely satisfy. Healthy, fresh, and easy–even if it’s not speedy to complete–still wins, right? Here you go.

(Serves 3-4)

~1.5lbs chicken breast, cut into chunks
* ~1C bell pepper, chopped
* 1/2-3/4 of a large sweet onion, chopped
* 1 large, or 3-4 small zucchinis or yellow squash, chopped
* 1.5-2C broccoli florets
* ~1C grape tomatoes, halved
* 3T olive oil
* 1t salt
* 3/4t black pepper
* 2t Herbs de Provence
* 1/2-1t paprika

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F (pro tip, maybe don’t make this meal on a 90-degree day… what was I thinking??).

Chop all of your veggies, and your chicken, and place them into a large roasting pan or on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, Herbs de Provence, and paprika. Mix and toss well to distribute throughout.

Bake about 20-25 minutes, mixing about half-way through to ensure all the chicken pieces get cooked through.

N’s Pecan Pesto and Caprese Roll-Ups

I’ve posted previously about my relatively recent revelation about being able to make pesto out of *more* than just basil. In fact, I previously posted a spinach pesto (this is also a spinach pesto) recipe. But this is a special recipe, because my tiny sous chef made it, beginning to end. She selected ingredients, and amounts of ingredients, and so it’s named for her, and I will maybe only make this pesto for the rest of my life because it is so perfectly perfect and delicious.IMG_0757

I was planning a Meatless Monday meal of Caprese roll-ups, and while I’ll give you the whole recipe here, that’s really just putting already-ready ingredients together in a particular order. When I thought about a base for the roll-ups, the pesto really became the star. Once N put her hands on it, though, it became magic. So here you go.

for the pesto* 2C packed baby spinach leaves
* 1/4C packed fresh basil leaves
* 1/4C packed fresh parsley
* 1/2C pecans
* 1/2C grated Parmesan
* 4 whole garlic cloves
* 1T fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a large lemon)
* 1/2t lemon zest
* 1/2t salt
* 1/2t black pepper
* 1/4C extra virgin olive oil

for the roll-ups
* large flour tortillas or wraps (I used a whole wheat, spinach tortilla)
* plum tomatoes
* fresh mozzarella slices
* fresh basil leaves
* balsamic vinegar for drizzling
* NOTE: I did not do this, but next time, I’d also add sliced avocado (RIGHT?!)

Make the pesto.IMG_0753

Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor and blend thoroughly until combined. While the food processor is on, slowly pour in the olive oil until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust according to taste. DONE. You will thank my tiny sous chef for the thought to swap out traditional walnuts or pine nuts for pecans. They add a subtle sweetness and depth, especially juxtaposed against the punch of the garlic. Seriously. She might be a genius. And I’m not just saying that because I’m her mother.

Assemble your roll-ups. Spoon a generous amount of the pesto down the middle of a tortilla/wrap. Place a row of thick-cut slices of tomato on the pesto. Place slices of fresh mozzarella on the tomatoes. Top with basil leaves (or avocado, then basil). Drizzle just barely with a little balsamic (I probably used 1/4-1/2 a teaspoon per roll-up). Roll up the sides and enjoy. And thank my tiny sous chef, because Caprese or not, this would be pretty basic if not for that pesto, amiright?!


Summer Night Dinner: Charcuterie Table

This is neither a Weekend Treats nor a recipe post. This is a getting-back-in-the-posting-groove, I-have-to-share-this-dinner-I-totally-nailed post. Summer weather has finally arrived with gusto to Chicago. And for an easy, light, perfect summer dinner on a weeknight, this totally hits the spot. No real recipe here — just choose the elements you like the most, and chop/scoop/spoon/portion them onto a plate. As my sweet little sous chef likes to say, “it’s presentation!” Tonight’s components were:

  • grape tomatoes marinated in a little balsamic vinegar
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, sliced, sprinkled with fresh ground pepperIMG_0807
  • N’s pecan pesto (recipe for this amazing pesto made by my sidekick coming soon!)
  • 1/2 a ripe avocado, cut into chunks
  • 1/2C almonds
  • 1 Persian cucumber, halved and sliced
  • extra sharp New Zealand cheddar cheese, cubed
  • garlic-stuffed jumbo olives
  • pimento stuffed (regular sized) olives
  • two types of salami from our Farmer’s Market bounty yesterday: goat and a German kind the specific name of which I can’t remember
  • fresh dill goat cheese (also from our Farmer’s Market bounty)
  • sliced fresh Baguette (also from our Farmer’s Market bounty)

Everything about this was perfection. In keeping with our Meatless Mondays, I ate everything but the salami tonight, but to satisfy my MM-resistant husband, I added the salami in, because, salami. So many ways to combine these ingredients. It’s light, it’s filling, it’s beautiful. It’s totally kid-friendly. And you can change out 100% of these ingredients for your preferences. It’s simple, fast, fresh, and delicious.

We might eat some variation of this plate every night this summer. More posts coming this week!