Ginger Sesame Salad

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There are times where I find cooking an incredibly creative endeavor. Less because I’m a brilliant and bubbling with culinary innovation or anything, and more because I’m a terrible grocery shopper. I ALWAYS forget something. To be more specific, I usually forget enough to cook dinners for a full week. What’s more, I frequently find that I’ve picked up stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with the usual weekly routine of making a fast, filling, and approximately nutritious dinners. To that end, when the only salad-like vegetables you have to hand are a head of cabbage, a few orange peppers that will not last until stir-fry on Thursday, and a pack of mushrooms, salad is a pretty remote option. In any case this is pretty much the state of things in this household and creativity – or just trying random shit – becomes a full on necessity. Last week was one of those times. I had pretty much nothing to work with and a strong urge to make a dinner that wasn’t 50% Rice-o-Roni. Most of the ingredients here are things I just happen to have lying around at any give time because they’re on my mental long-term grocery list, which means I usually buy a LOT MORE than I actually need. Ever. Another bonus on this one is that it takes like 5 minutes to prepare and tastes as good as anything you’ll get in a restaurant. I also expect you can make it with half a bag of coleslaw mix a few not-so prime sugar snap peas and that zucchini you’ve been struggling to work out how to use before it goes bad.

What you need for the dressing:

  • 6 Tbsp Red wine vinegar,
  • 1/2 Tbsp GOOD balsamic vinegar – don’t skimp on this,
  • 3 Tbsp red wine,
  • 1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce – In my opinion, this is one of the key ingredients, even though there’s not much,
  • A few drops of soy sauce (to taste, really),
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame oil,
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chili pepper sesame oil (or just regular sesame oil and mix in a few pepper flakes),
  • 1 Tsp toasted sesame seeds,
  • 1/2 Tsp ground ginger,
  • a few dashes of garlic powder (about 1/8th of a tsp), and
  • 1 Shallot, finely diced,

The salad itself:

  • 16oz small fresh button mushrooms,
  • 1-2 Cups chopped cabbage, and
  • 2 sliced large orange peppers.

Directions:

Put the cabbage and mushrooms into a container with a lid. Mix up the dressing and pour over the mushrooms and cabbage. Put the lid on the container and shake well. Put this in the fridge for a few hours, if you can spare the time, skip it otherwise. Just about the time you start cooking dinner, slice up the orange peppers and toss with the salad mix in a bowl.

That’s it. It’s easy, and absolutely delicious.

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Homemade Garlic & Ginger paste

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I like to cook with ginger, and against all odds, the kids like eating stuff with ginger. The problem, as is always the case, is that I’ve got 45 minutes or less to prepare and serve dinner. When a recipe calls for ginger root it basically knocks the meal out of contention for an easy after work/school meal. I suppose I could go and buy one of those $5 tubes of pre-pureed ginger, but really, it goes about two meals and it’s so full of other preservatives to maintain color and whatever, I don’t actually feel like I’m doing the right thing. Plus, that would require planning, and I can tell you good intentions (aka: grabbing a ginger root off the shelf) are way easier than planning. At least for me. Anyhow, I’ve got a middle-ground that also manages to sort out the problem of garlic at the same time. It’s a piece of cake and you can totally knock it together after a day of mopping, sweeping, cursing and threats of death and destruction.

img_1815All you need is a decent sized ginger root, peeled and cut into 3/4″-1″ cubes – you’re aiming for about a dozen of these. Also a medium sized garlic clove, peeled. Toss the whole mess into a food processor until it’s as pasty as you want it. If you want to get pastier, add a bit of olive oil after you’ve minced it, stir that around with a spoon and go back after it with the food processor.

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Then, use 1-2 Tbsp in whatever recipe is calling for ginger. I also use it extensively in stir-fry. It keeps for weeks in the fridge and while it does acquire a sort of greenish tinge, I assure you, it’s still perfectly fine. unless it’s been there for a year and also has a small colony of semi-sentient beings taking a foothold on the surface.