Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First anniversary hard truth... with salad!

Hey! I'm still here! It's been a while, hasn't it? I've been busy; training for a half marathon, competing to keep my job in the federal public service (still tbd), reading the last volume from the Game of Thrones series, yadda yadda... and do you know what? Blogging is a lot of work! And, well, being consistent with fresh new posts is quite contradictory to my farniente-ing. Sooooo I've decided to change my priorities a bit... I'm done with feeling guilty about not posting often enough. In my first blog post, I'd said that life's too short to spend it all in the kitchen. Now, I know that it should also have read that life's too short to spend forced three-hour periods, on a weeknight or otherwise, writing blog posts and formatting pictures. So, from now on, I'll post when I feel like it, and if there's a three month gap between posts, so be it. It's not like I started this thing to make money. 

So! It's almost Food and Farniente's first anniversary! I can't believe it's been a year already. I was actually reminded of this happy occasion as I was tucking my newly sprouted luxurious melons into the garden's freshly turned soil, all set for a second nail-biting season of "So you think you can grow melons?" Stay tuned for those... If it doesn't work, I'm swearing off heirloom melons for good. Stupid unengineered non-enhanced nature! Grow faster dammit!! Anyhoo, I'm not doing anything in particular to celebrate the occasion, but it just feels good to know that this important milestone is just around the corner. Yay me! I stuck with something! Sort of!

Okay. Enough horn tooting. On with the show. Here's one of my all-time favourite quickie recipes for a light, quick and tasty dinner. I love it. Marc loves it. You'll love it. If you don't, sorry to have led you on. Also, get your taste buds checked.

Soba noodle salad with soy-ginger dressing, snow peas, and random nuts or seeds

To feed two people generously, you will need:
  • 3 handfuls of snow peas (or enough to fill a 4 cup glass measuring cup)
  • 2 small green onions
  • 1 handful of chopped and toasted almonds or toasted sesame seeds; a little pan-fried and cooled tofu could do the trick here too, for those who have nut allergies
  • 3 bunches of soba noodles (a japanese buckwheat noodle - delicious cold. You should be able to find it at your regular grocery. If not, stop by any asian market. Note: they're a bit more expensive than spaghetti, but they're worth it!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated with a Microplane (I keep my ginger in the freezer to make this bit easier)
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsp brown sugar (or more, to your liking)
  • 1/2  tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp neutral oil like canola or grape seed

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Also, fill a bowl with cold water and throw in a whole rack of ice cubes - set aside on the counter, near the stove. While the water heads toward the boiling point, get the rest of your stuff prepared.

1. Put the chopped almonds in a dry pan and toast them on low heat until they start to brown and become fragrant. When done, remove them from the pan so they don't burn, and set them aside.

2. Slice the green onions very thinly, on the diagonal if your knife is sharp enough. If not, regular little rounds are fine, as long as you keep them thin.

3. Wash the snow peas and remove the tough stringy bits by snapping the tip off each end and pulling in the direction of the pod. Marc demonstrates - quite beautifully, I might add - in the photo below. 

4. When all the peas are trimmed, throw them in the boiling water and set your timer for one minute - no more! Once the minute has passed, pull the peas out with a slotted spoon and shock them in the ice water. Don't dump out the boiling water, you'll be using it again shortly (we're trying to minimize dirty dishes!)

5. Add the soba noodles to the pot of boiling water. Cook according to the directions on the package; it won't take long, so watch them carefully so they don't get mooshy. When they're done, drain them in a colander and toss them in the ice water with the peas to cool. 

6. Whisk together the ginger, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and canola oil to make the dressing.

7. Drain the noodles and snow peas, put them in a pretty salad bowl and toss them with the remaining ingredients and dressing. Poof! You're done! Enjoy!!

Hmmm. By the looks of this photo, I may have forgotten
to toast the nuts when I made this particular batch... Oh well!