Dull Day, Bright Salad

P1040985William pears have a lovely tartness to them which marry well with the heavy creaminess of Haas avocados. Try this salad for breakfast or lunch.

Recipe:

1 William Pear, sliced into thin slices

1 firm Haas avocado sliced into thin slices

a few mint leaves

a few fresh fennel fronds

a few spoons of dried pomegranate seeds (or whichever dried fruit you have that could pair well)

a few squeezes of fresh lime/ lemon juice

French or Himalayan Pink salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Slice the avocado, drizzle in lime then place around the plate as in the picture. Slice William pear and add to the plate, bearing in mind, that the more red skin shows, the better the contrast.

Place mint leaves and fennel fronds around the empty spaces then add pomegranate seeds. Squeeze just a little more lime on the plate, add your salt and pepper.

Note: Use an interesting and textured salt so that your palate receives bursts of different flavours in one bite. Don’t place it evenly on the plate. Same with the lime and herbs. If everything is evenly flavoured, it becomes lacklustre.

Enjoy.

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Stay Calm and Balance Heat with Bitterness :-)

“Bitter taste is a powerful detoxifying agent, and has antibiotic, anti-parasitic ans antiseptic qualities. It is also helpful in reducing weight, water retention, skin rashes, fever, burning sensations and nausea.”

                            (Eat. Taste. Heal.)

During this really hot summer, bear in mind how to balance the accumulated heat in your body. Don’t aggravate it by eating “hot” foods like mango, guava or litchi. Cool it down by reaching for bitter, drier foods like kale, spinach, bitter melon, green cabbage, zucchini, eggplant, tumeric, fenugreek, coffee and olives (examples referenced from Eat. Taste. Heal.) Bitter food stimulate the appetite while keep you feeling lighter and more energized than heavy hot foods.

If you find yourself steaming up and feeling heavy and lethargic, try this simple salad to stimulate you and keep you energized.

Bitter Gourd and Pomegranate Salad

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The flavour is bitter but balanced with sweet, tart dried pomegranates and sesame, lemon dressing.

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Step1: Wash the gourd then slice in half, lengthways. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the white flesh and seeds. Rinse once more, then pat dry.

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Next, finely slice the gourd like in the picture.

Wash your salad greens. I chose to use these bitter purple leaves in addition to my bitter gourd. I guess my body needed it:-)

Wash your salad greens. I chose to use these bitter purple leaves in addition to my bitter gourd. I guess my body needed it:-)

Rinse and dry greens then add the sliced gourd to it.

Rinse and dry greens then add the sliced gourd to it.

P1030183  P1030181P1030184The dressing is simple. Freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and a few gratings of Himalayan rock salt.

Finally, add some dried pomegranate or any small, sweet, tart fruit of your choice to off-set the bitterness of the salad.

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This is an internal air conditioner salad 🙂 Try it, it’s great!

Roasted Pumpkin, Chipotle-marinated Mushroom and raw Caramelized Onion Salad

roasted pum[pkin raw caramelized onion chipotle-marinated mushroom spinach green bean cumin garlic

A few years ago, I read that book,Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads and to be honest, I found it completely unmemorable. Also, I usually find salads to be the last thing I would order off a menu unless I was subconsciously trying to deal with the guilt of having previously consumed something unhealthy. I think this is called “purgatory”.  Don’t look away. I know you do it, too.

Now I try to find pleasure out of salads and include one in every day of the week. Even if I don’t always get there, it’s habit I’m working on. I think my problem with salads is that I usually feel even more deprived AFTER eating one than before, like I’m missing out on a real meal. I think eating like this fosters more anxiety about food and drives us, ironically more in the direction of unhealthy food. The body needs to feel satisfied and grounded and I don’t feel that way after munching on some sparse leaves and seeds from a bowl.

The salad above has everything I need to feel like I’ve eaten a meal – the bulkiness of roasted pumpkin, the heartiness of tenderstem broccoli (it’s really tiring chewing on those stalks), the earthy smokiness and spiciness of raw chipotle-marinated mushrooms (can one ever eat any dish without at least a little heat???), the sweet, rich delicacy of raw caramelized onion and the decadence of good, creamy gorgonzola. Throw in my new, favourite salad dressing of chunky garlic and cumin and you won’t even have space for dessert. Gorgeousness. Really.

You may have noticed that the last three salads have had gorgonzola in them. In a way, part of the salad recipes came about because we received a block of gorgonzola as a gift from family in the US. It felt really special because it was just this single block of cheese. It wasn’t one gift among many as is usually the case so the sense of wowness around it, made me think twice as hard about what to do with it. We are a dairy-free household but we are not anally-retentive about it. We still maintain our playfulness and humour about food. So if I’m going to feed us dairy-based cheese, I may as well make sure it is complemented by a lot of fresh vegetables.

Ok, here’s the recipe as far as I can remember and I’m not sure about measurements:

Prep: use your mushroom of choice, slice them up and marinate with olive oil, salt and chipotle.

1. Hack a pumpkin open, scoop out the innards and rub generous amounts of olive oil inside the cavity and the skin. Sprinkle with your favourite salt and black pepper. Roast it.

2. Rinse and shave your tenderstem broccoli – just the stems so they are easier to chew and digest. Cruciferous veggies gets lots of bugs stuck in them so make a bath of warm, salty water and leave em in there for about 10 – 15 minutes. Don’t pour the water out with the veggies still in the bowl. Lift the veggies away from the water. Then rinse. All the residue will remain at the bottom of the bowl. Wrap in a tea towel and press gently. or swing the tea towel around in the air and the water will separate really quickly. Do make sure you have secured either end with an elastic band or something.

Place the tenderstems in a salad bowl along with cleaned spinach leaves. Pour half of the salad dressing over the leaves and broccoli and gently mix. Over mixing will wilt the leaves and leave them lacklustre.

Add the mushrooms.

Dressing:

  • Finely crush 3 cloves of garlic and put it in a bowl
  • Two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly-crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt depending on how large your salad is.
  • 1/4 tsp powdered cumin and a few sprinkles of whole cumin for texture and bursts of cuminy-goodness

This dressing was inspired by one of my many searches which revealed Cuban chef, Marciel E.Presilla

By now the roasted pumpkin should be cooked and cooled, cut into cubes and gently move them around the bowl of salad dressing then pick them out and place them in the salad bowl with broccoli and spinach. I don’t like touching the pumpkin too much or they will not maintain their shape.

Next add your gorgonzola and the remaining dressing. Finally, top with raw caramelized onion.

Here’s how:

Finely julienne a medium-sized purple onion. Mix with about two tablespoons of honey/ maple syrup or whatever sweetener you choose, add two tablespoons of olive oil then dehydrate for a few hours until they get softer. You can store these in the freezer and just warm in the dehydrator whenever you need the. Alternatively , just bake them in the oven.

Variation on a theme – Spring Salads

Yesterday I posted “Sweet Jaysus Jicama Beet and Avo Salad”, today I wanted the same salad but I ran out of avo so I made this instead:

jicama beet gorgonzola mint lemon dressing

Still with jicama, gorgonzola and beets but this time with a generous sprinkling of spring onion and an invigorating mint lime dressing.

Here’s the dressing recipe – as far as I can translate a splash and dab:-)

a handful of fresh mint

1.5 tblsp apple cider vinegar

2 tblsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

a dash of salt

a dribble of maple syrup (optional – be aware of lime/ vinegar balance)

water

spritz everything in the blender until you get a well-incorporated emulsion

jicama beet gorgonzola mint lemon dressing (4)

Raw Asparagus with Saffron Chili Cheese Sauce (dairy-free)

Creamy, cheesy spicy goodness, raw and delicious!

Creamy, cheesy spicy goodness, raw and delicious!

It’s Springtime in Taiwan and with asparagus being the vegetable of the season, the relevance is poetic. Spring is a time for well, spring cleaning and asparagus is a cleansing, detoxifying vegetable. It’s packed with minerals and vitamins A, K, E and the B’s (to a lesser degree). Don’t let the health benefits distract you from the gorgeous, nutty, earthiness of the vegetable.

Paying a visit to the infamous Binjiang Market (my temple, I swear), each vendor actually specializes in particular vegetables. So, the asparagus vendor had many varieties to choose from and they all looked amazing.

I settled on the giant asparagus (sorry, forgot to take a picture) since I would be shaving them for this salad. 

Here’s the recipe:

5 giant asparagus stalks

1 tablespoon of salt

Dressing

1 cup of soaked (12-24 hours) cashew nuts (soaking removed digestive inhibitors)

1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (start with less than half and taste as you go along to reach the cheesiness level you find palatable)

a generous pinch of saffron

1 teaspoon of chili oil (you can substitute with paprika/ black pepper)

a splash of water (depends on how thick you like your dressing)

salt to taste

Peel the asparagus then continue to shave, using the peeler. Place in a bowl with the tablespoon of salt. The salt softens the asparagus making it easier to work with. Let it sit for no more than ten minutes then rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel.

Blend the rest of the ingredients together then in a mixing bowl, work it into the shaved asparagus gently, then carefully place on a serving dish.

Garnish with a pinch of saffron.

Binjiang Market Address: No. 336 Minzu East Rd.

Closest subway stop is Xingtian Temple, then a short, 5-minute cab ride to the market