Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Best Thing You've Never Had

Friends, I want to share something with you, because I care about your well-being, and I want you to feel healthy, nourished, satisfied, and happy. I want you to live long and prosper. I want you to eat this salad, because it's magically delicious.

You're going to look at this and think: it's way too complicated. There's too much going on, too many ingredients in the mix, I don't even have half of this stuff, and there are too many steps involved.  Exactly how much of my life to you expect me to devote to one meal? Etc.

Let me assure you, this one is worth it. Also, it is not nearly as much trouble as you might think it will be--it comes together quickly, and the timing of each step allows the next to unfold in good time. That, and it is easily adaptable to what you might have on hand, or not. So, stop your nay-saying and let's make dinner already.

You will need:

30-45 minutes
2-4 hungry people

1 cup quinoa
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base, or equivalent
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger, or 1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 smallish pork chops, pork sirloin steaks, or the like - chicken tenders or steak would work equally well
1/2 tsp sesame oil + 1/2 tsp vegetable oil or butter, or whatever kind of fat you like
salt & pepper
2 tbsp hoisin sauce (see below for substitutions)
1 tbsp oyster sauce (see below for substitutions)
2 tsp soy sauce
squirt of sriracha sauce
2 tbsp water

1 small head of romaine lettuce, chopped or torn, about 3 cups
3 cups of spring mix, or kale, spinach or more romaine
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 large carrot, grated, about 1/2 cup

1 cup frozen green peas, soaked in boiling water
1 cup sprouts, alfalfa or other
6 Cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 of a medium cucumber, sliced in half-rounds 1/8 inch thick

1/4 c sliced radishes, preferably beauty heart but any old radish will do
1/4 c red bell pepper, sliced 1/4 thick and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 sliced scallions - optional, or thinly sliced onion perhaps
2 tbsp sliced or slivered almonds

1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4-1/2 fresh squeezed lime
1 tsp brown mustard
2 tsp honey

Here's what you do:

Heat the oil in a pan and sear the meat on high heat for a few minutes on each side, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.  It's ok if the pan gets a bit brown. Once the meat is seared, let it sit in the pan to cool for a few minutes.

Mince the ginger and garlic. Rinse the quinoa, put it in a small saucepan with the ginger, garlic and bouillon, and bring to a simmer. You can do this while the meat is cooking. Cook until water is gone and quinoa is done. If it sticks at all, add a tablespoon of water to the pan and let stand, covered.

Put the peas in a bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Boil some water and pour it over them. You can also do this while the meat is cooking, or cooling.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, greens, cabbage and carrots until thoroughly mixed. It will be pretty and make you feel happier, especially if your bowl is blue.

Slice the meat into thin strips and return to the pan. Add the hoisin, oyster, soy and sriracha sauces directly to the pan, along with the water, and mix until the meat is thoroughly coated. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until the liquid is reduced.

(A note on substitutions, here: if you don't have hoisin and/or oyster sauce, you can use extra soy sauce and water and a tbsp or more of sugar instead. Oyster sauce adds a lot of flavor, though, and is a worthy addition to any pantry. Hoisin sauce is relatively new to me and mine is homemade, from this recipe (or something close to it...I tend to tinker). Great stuff.)

Slice your veggies and set them aside. All amounts are approximate and should be adjusted, to taste. Throw in some other stuff if you'd like.

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a microwaveable bowl or cup and nuke for a few seconds, to dissolve the honey.

(Another note on substitutions: any Asian-like vinaigrette will do, so do what you like or what you can.)

Arrange your greens in a bowl and make a hole in the center.  Add the quinoa, and top with the sprouts, mushrooms, cucumber, meat with any remaining sauce, radishes, pepper, scallions, almonds, and peas. Drizzle with dressing.

I wish I had taken a picture, so you would be able to appreciate how fantastic this salad looks. And it tastes even better. You'll start off poking around a bit and end up with a perfect mix of every flavor you've been craving for what seems like ages, but didn't know you were missing. After eating this you will remember why you decided to become a human being. You will remember your dreams, and who your friends are, and you will realize that anything is possible, and you're ready for the next big thing.

If you make this dish and don't like it, please leave me a comment and I will unconditionally refund your entire past, present and future. Don't say it's too hard, too complicated, too messy, too fussy, too fancy, too much of a pain in the ass. Just make it, and thank me for changing your life. 


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