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spiral dressed V is for Very Easy

Without too much dogmatism, we try to eat a more plant-based diet most days, with meaty meals as the exception rather than our norm. Just on the cusp of wild growing seasons, the vegetable offerings are starting to change, but this lunchtime salad for two can be made year round, and takes advantage of one pre-made ingredient that works with a vegetarian meal plan as well as with something more meatarian.  We describe our general approach, not just to {meatless} Mondays, but for the whole week or year, as less-meatarian, which shamelessly we have stolen from Mark Bittman.

Some years back, one of the local markets that made tofu in San Jose also had bags of “tofu skins” or yuba, which we started using in stir-fry dishes, usually with a spicy black bean paste and some eggplant. We picked up some of these, un-labled, whenever we stopped in. That market is long gone, and we gave up on yuba until we noticed an article by Daniel Patterson that shared his great appreciation AND a local source – Hodo Soy.  That put us on the hunt and soon enough, it showed up in our local Whole Foods as well as at the Ferry Market Plaza in San Francisco. With yuba, we have made folded peppery omelets, noodles, and most dramatically, orange-glazed rolls resembling something like the honey-dipped diples of my Greek childhood, fried then glazed in the pan. If I see a package, I always buy it, and figure out how to cook it later. I wish it was an every week staple.

As we have more outdoor time, light lunches are especially handy and take advantage of having prepared a few things in advance on the weekend: roasting beets, washing herbs and keeping it very simple. A batch of pickled eggs (beet pink and gold) also have figured prominently tho not for todays salad. I did have a quarter of peeled avocado from last night that wanted using soon though! I also like the idea of mixing vegetables in a “noodle” form, sometimes with other vegetables or alongside noodles.

spiral salad1

The made-ahead item was Hodo Soy’s Sesame Yuba Strips. My most preferred item from Hodo Soy has to be their plain sheets of Yuba, but since they sell out quickly at my local grocers, I don’t always have them available to me. When I do find them, I like to make a mushroom stroganoff with beech and maitake mushrooms, using the yuba in place of noodles. They also can be added to stir-fry dishes and even incorporated in a vegetarian spring roll. An excellent edamame-yuba dish can be found on the Saveur website.

The sesame flavour is reinforced with a tahini dressing, though it really tasted more like a best-version of peanut dressing once the salad was assembled. The creamy sesame tahini mixed with my fish sauce based dressing to complete the dish. The only “cooking” involved in making a salad to serve at room temp was briefly cooking some organic ramen and warming the sesame yuba in a small skillet. The fun prep was using my vegetable spiralizer to create cucumber and carrot noodles. The dressing I added was a light variation on nuoc cham that I borrowed from  who liked the sesame yuba as much as I did. 

You would just as easily replace the cucumber with zucchini, or add that in place of the ramen (or udon or soba).

This served two for a complete lunch.

spiral salad2

1/2 English cucumber, partially peeled then spiralized or cut into long julienne strips
1 bundle organic ramen or udon noodles, cooked, drained and rinsed
1-2 carrots, also spiralized or julienned
1 small roasted beet sliced
1 T basil leaves sliced into ribbons
1 package Sesame Yuba Strips
1/4 to 1/2 avocado. sliced

juice of one lime
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Mix dressing ingredients so that sugar has dissolved, set aside.

Assemble cucumber, carrots and any other vegetable spirals in large bowl. Cook and drain noodles, rinse and drain again, then add to bowl. Warm yuba strips and tease them out with tongs to separate the pieces a bit.  Let cool slightly in pan then add to bowl. Add beets, basil (if you have Thai basil that would work as would mint).

Add dressing and toss thoroughly to coat vegetable strands and noodles. Serve with avocado garnishing top.

note: I bought my vegetable sprializer at Williams Sonoma, although the Paderno model is also available elsewhere. Be aware it is very, very sharp. It does create a small core of vegetable as it run the veggies through, and I often slice that up and add it to the dish or much on the raw veg as a cooks perk. Be careful with super hard vegetables (e.g. only tender celeriac rather than hardened overly mature roots worked for me).
Another great julienne tool is the Kinpira Peeler available from the Wok Shop as well as many Asian grocers and from specialty cooking shops. It is small, easy to use and well made.