It is too damn hot outside. Seriously. I am not a garden-waterer, especially for veggie gardens and doubly-especially before July. I’m all for building a robust root system. This June has broke me of that, however, and I’ve had to go out every few days to water my plants in this 90+ degree heat.
Needless to say, cold food sounds better right now.
After the birth of my first kid (also during a hot streak), my sister came to stay for a week. She played the perfect aunt and sister, and introduced me to the concept of cold cabbage salads that aren’t cole slaw. It was kind of a revelation.
So, in her honor, a super-easy, short-cuts included Vietnamese-inspired salad, perfect to make ahead and chill. Perfect with a glass of sparkling lemonade (rum optional).
Cabbage Chicken Salad
Serves 4, but easy to double
Time: 15 minutes active, 2 hours inactive
1 lb of cooked, shredded chicken (perfect if you’ve got roast chicken leftovers, otherwise, I like to poach in hot water until done– about 20-30 minutes)
1 bag of coleslaw
1/2 c to 1 c of mint or cilantro, chopped*
3 green onions, diced (greens only)
1/2 cup of crushed peanuts (to serve)
4 tbsp lime juice, fresh is preferred
2 tbsp rice vinegar or mirin
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sriracha (optional)
Mix first four ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix dressing in a separate bowl until sugar has dissolved.
Drizzle dressing over salad and mix well. Let salad cool in the fridge (2 hours is a good goal, but might get a bit wilty over 6).
Mix once more before serving, topping each plate with crushed peanuts.
*I often use cilantro because it’s often easier to find fresh, but I know some people find the flavor soapy. Mint is lovely and more traditional, but consider using less than a cup.
I don’t usually post during the non-growing season, but I thought I would update with a question and a quick recipe—
Question first: How in the world do you take care of succulents?
I’m become a succulent mom very suddenly (it was a Christmas gift) and I think I’m doing it all wrong. Advice on soil mixture? Care and watering suggestions?
So now that you’ve earned your keep, a quick recipe to tide you over (and the perfect potluck recipe for football fun):
Julia’s Orzo Salad
I should note that my name is not Julia. Julia is the person who perfected the amazing additions to this salad, and who is bugged– constantly– to bring this to gatherings. Much love and adoration to Julia, for this and many other reasons!
1 (16 oz) box of orzo pasta
1/2 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup of red pepper, diced
4 oz crumbled feta
4 oz of pepperoni, diced
1- 2.4 oz can of sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
1 packet of ranch dressing mix
4 T of red wine vinegar
3 T of olive oil
2 T of white sugar (1 T if using splenda)
1 tsp of dried basil leaves
Make orzo according to box instructions.* During last minute of cooking time, add broccoli florets to boiling water. Drain broccoli and orzo in a colander and rinse with cold water.
In a small bowl or lidded jar, mix last five ingredients.
Put orzo and broccoli in a large mixing bowl and combine with remaining ingredients, mixing well with vinaigrette.
Let salad rest in refrigerator for at least one hour. Can be made a day ahead. If it seems dry, rewet with 1 tsp of each red wine vinegar and olive oil.
*Orzo expands like crazy, so make sure you cook it in a large pot with plenty of water.
This week marked the end of our snow pea season (well, the early one… I always put in a late crop in the fall). I love snow peas. I love the way the vines creep upward, even unsupported, and the little tendrils the vines send out looking for something to climb. It reminds me of putting a cautious foot out while walking down the hallway in the dark… now that my son is of matchbox car age, no one is safe.
Last weekend we had our first dinner party post-baby. I was feeling cramped up and needed adult contact, so we had a few couples over for grilled steaks, drinks, and conversation. Even with juggling bedtime routines for two kiddos, we still managed to have a wonderful night, and the salad recipe that follows was one of the hits of the evening.
And so, if you’re lucky enough to still be in snow pea heaven in your garden (or if you’ve bought some from the grocery store or farmer’s market), here’s a quick summer recipe for you:
Snow Pea and Ginger Sesame Dressing Salad (dressing adapted from AllRecipes)
For the salad:
8 c mixed greens
1 carrot, shredded
2 cups snow peas, cut on the bias every two inches
2 green onions (greens only), chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 clove of minced fresh garlic
Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine dressing ingredients in a pint glass jar (mason works well) or microwave-safe plastic container– either should have a lid available. Microwave the dressing uncovered for one minute to incorporate the honey. Cover container and shake dressing vigorously.
Toss salad with dressing, or offer on the side.
Salad is all that sounds good to me on busy, hot days… hope you enjoy it!
Some days beg to be enjoyed outside, like the strangely cool late July day we’ve been having here in the Midwest. Days like this one seem choreographed to bring a smile to my face. The woodpecker landed at the suet feeder just as I step outside. Six butternut squash were waiting to be picked in the garden, and my sunflowers are getting close to flowering.
I know flowers are part of the life cycle of the plants, just external reproductive systems, but it seems like such a gift to be able to enjoy their ephemeral beauty. Even things like green beans and eggplant get the cutest little flowers on them. Continue reading Garden Wonderland/Disaster→