The Summer Muse of SALAD



“A number of rare or newly experienced foods have been claimed to be aphrodisiacs. At one time this quality was even ascribed to the tomato. Reflect on that when you are next preparing the family salad.”
Jane Grigson

It’s summer warm today and lusciously still here at home after my late afternoon nap. SALAD is the call for dinner–quick, light and healthy.

Little did I anticipate that I would strike gold tonight with the following salad, prepared in 10 minutes.

See the trick is having the right ingredients ready to go:

Two hand fulls/person–Fresh Arugula (trade out with other leafy greens as your palette desires)

1 hand-full/person–Cut steamed carrots, bite size

5-10 pieces/person–Cut steamed beets, bite size

1-2 Soup-spoons full/person–Steamed beet green from above beets

3-6 mushrooms/person–Sliced dried shitake mushrooms, soaked til soft

SECRET TIP is to spend time prepping a batch of individual ingredients that you can combine them in a variety of ways over a day or two or three. And have them easily at hand to whip up a meal.

For example, I steamed the beets two days ago and sliced carrots this morning and have already used them in salads,  sushi rolls, sliced thin in a rice bowl….

Here’s the way I like to prep my carrots: Slice the carrots down the middle. Then lie the flat side down on the cutting board and cut on a diagonal  in uniform widths. I usually decide on 1/4″ (or 1/2″ if I want a heartier experience).

Steam the carrots for about 10 minutes, or until soft to your liking. I like mine still a little firm.

Cut the beets down the center–from stem to tail. Lay flat on the cutting board and here you can decide how you want to be creative. Do you want thin slices, wedges. For flexibility, with this batch I chose 1″ wide sticks.

So, steam those beets. It will have taken at least 15 minutes for this size. And again. Cook to your liking. Have a fork on hand in order to test taste.

Without getting lost here–the guidelines are 1. Keep the size as uniform as possible and 2. Experiment with each batch of veggies and notice the different taste and chef experiences that you have when they are cut this way or that way.

OK! Back to the salad.

Add to a bowl the above ingredients, EXCEPT for the mushrooms.

Then in a pan, heat up on med/low heat–2 medium pours of olive oil/serving. Pour over the veggies. Add squeeze of lemon and small pour of umeboshi plum vinegar and splash of rice wine to the heated pan. Pour immediately over the veggies. Allow to sit for a moment and then toss.

Take the seasoned pan and put back on the stove. Add sliced shitake and capful of tamari or shoyu (the healthier versions of soy sauce). Saute the shitake, allowing them to brown, carmelize slightly. Add a splash of water to sink in the flavors as you cook a minute longer. They should be a mix between chewy, and soft with a slight crisp.

Plate the salad. Finish the salad with pouring the shitake on top.

Or choose to plate it along with a side of brown rice with gomasio sprinkled on top.

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