Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The makings of lunch

The other night, I made Goi Cuon (or fresh summer roll) -- bean sprouts, fried tofu, cucumber, carrot, mint, rolled up in a lettuce leaf in a thin rice wrapper. I didn't have any cellophane noodles, so I skipped that part and skipped the basil add-in because I could really only afford either the organic basil or the mint at nearly $5 for a box (ours isn't up yet in the garden).

With it, I threw together a quick improv peanut sauce, much simpler than your usual ingredient-intensive Malay or Indonesian sauce. I didn't have hoisin, so I couldn't do a Vietnamese peanut-hoisin sauce either, but it still turned out yummy -- recipe down below.

But anyway, the Goi Cuon meant that today at lunch I opened the fridge to take stock and the first thing I saw was the leftover julienned carrots, cucumbers, and nicely washed & separated mint leaves. The little container of veggies sat right next to the fresh batch of yogurt, set just last night. Add the farm-fresh salad mix on the bottom shelf ($6/half-pound!), some raisins from my 5 lb bag, a bit of tuna, and a few slices from the rye batard I baked in the morning... Salad and toast. Voila!

The yogurt made a yummy dressing with just a bit of fixing up -- some kind of North African/Mediterranean inspired dressing to go with the mint and the raisins. The tuna was a little funny in the salad, but I was craving protein. Some shredded lamb, a boiled egg or some nuts probably would have gone over better.

Not the best picture, but you'll have to excuse it... the camera was out in the barn.

Ginger-Cumin Yogurt Dressing
1/2 cup fresh yogurt (mine was pretty thin)
1 tsp white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp grated ginger
water (optional)

Mix everything together well by shaking in a jar or whisking. Add some water if your yogurt is especially thick -- add only a very small amount at a time and taste -- you don't want to dilulte it too much. Serve over greens. Especially good with mint! Yum.

Simple Peanut Ginger Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup natural peanut butter*, well mixed (I used MaraNatha Organic, no salt added)
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 slices ginger root (peeled, 1/4'' thick)
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup water
salt to taste

Add your peanut butter to a pan over medium heat. Stir as the peanut butter heats up and thins out. When the peanut butter loses its body and spreads over the bottom of the pan, add your coconut milk and stir well. once combined, add in your soy sauce and ginger. Be sure to stir well so your peanut butter doesn't stick to the bottom. Add water, stir, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add salt to taste -- if you're using salted peanut butter, you may not need to add any. Remove ginger pieces and discard.

* natural peanut butter has a very different consistency and taste than traditional brands. You could try this with something like Skippy or Jiffy, but I would leave out the sugar at first, and maybe add some oil and possible extra water.

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