Today was one heck of a day. It was just one thing after another, with no breaks. Days this this wear me out. Then The Artist asked the ultimate question … What’s for Dinner? Oy Vey! What in the heck am I going to make? Then it hit me – I have a ton of vegetables in the refrigerator that need to be used. HA, dinner was born!
After all the turkey leftovers, we both wanted something totally different, so I went vegetarian with Asian flavors and it was the perfect change of pace. If you want, you can certainly add a protein to this salad – sauté a little chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp and toss them in just before serving.
You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Of course the obligatory carrots, celery, and onion are always winners in any dish, which is no doubt why the French start nearly every savory dish with this combo that they call mirepoix. I usually have a couple of red, yellow or orange bell peppers on hand, often green onions, zucchini, crookneck squash, bok choy or other greens, etc. Even frozen vegetables will work, although they will not take as long to cook. This time I had a ton of green beans, so they went in the mix. Whatever you have that you enjoy will work!
I made this with an Asian garlic-chili paste, but you could use any hot sauce you prefer. If you want more heat, add another tablespoon or maybe try a splash of Sriracha. It is totally up to you! This would also make a wonderful side dish to any grilled meats.
Because we are now a gluten-free household, I made our with gluten-free pasta. Two of our favorite brands are Schar and Jovial, but you can use whichever you like. You can use any regular wheat pasta, white or brown rice, quinoa, couscous, or other grain. Just cook according to the package directions, which will vary for each different type of grain.
This dinner doesn’t get much faster or easier and you can have it on the table in about 30 minutes from start to finish. If you are cutlery-challenged, hit the salad bar the next time you are in the grocery store. Use their prepared vegetables in stir-fries like this one or to enhance any dish, making it more delicious and healthier.
Have fun being creative and “refrigerator diving”!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Cutting the denser vegetables a little smaller than everything else will help them cook at the same rate. Also, make sure you cut everything bite sized so your guests don’t have to struggle to eat the dish. Little adjustments like this are the difference that will have your guests saying Thank You!
Make sure the soy sauce and any other Asian ingredients are gluten-free. Check the labels carefully!
Spicy Sesame Vegetable and Pasta Salad (GF option)
© 2012 Jane Evans Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved
Yield: 4 servings
3 tbsp organic olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp Mirin
1 tbsp light soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari sauce)
1 tbsp garlic chili sauce
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
Pinch xanthan gum, optional (see Note)
1 tsp organic olive oil
1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 cups chopped mixed vegetables – such as green beans, snow peas, bean sprouts, carrots, bell pepper, bok choy, spinach, etc.
About 6 oz shaped pasta (GF if desired), e.g. fettuccine, garganelli, gemelli, penne rigate, gnocchetti, etc.
1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, Mirin, soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, and ginger. Whisk together until smooth and oils are emulsified. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the top and whisk in. Set aside.
Prepare the Vegetables: Separate the vegetables into those that take longer to cook and those that take less. For example, onions, carrots, bell peppers are denser and take more time to soften. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté about 2 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add the rest of the vegetables and toss together for another minute or two over the heat or until everything is tender but still a little crispy. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Pour in half the dressing; toss to evenly coat all the vegetables.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions, or until al dente if using regular wheat pasta. (Cook gluten-free pasta fully, but be careful of overcooking it.) When done, drain in a colander and add to the vegetables. Add the remaining dressing, nuts, and half the cilantro. Toss together until everything is evenly coated.
Spoon into serving bowls and sprinkle each with a little of the remaining cilantro. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to several days.
Note: The xanthan gum will help keep your dressing from separating as it stands, letting you set it aside and not have to worry about re-whisking it every few minutes.
Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material on The Heritage Cook without prior approval is prohibited. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email: theheritagecook (at) comcast (dot) net. Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, www.theheritagecook.com.
The intention of the content on this site is for your inspiration and enjoyment. It is not a substitute for advice given by a licensed health-care professional. You are responsible for medically confirming any dietary restrictions and ingredient safety with product manufacturers before consuming or using any product. If you have dietary restrictions, always read the labels before including any ingredient in your cooking.
As an affiliate member, if you click on links in my posts and purchase a product, I may receive a small percentage of the sale. Any commissions received will be used to offset a portion of the costs of running The Heritage Cook. If I have received products for review or had travel expenses covered, I will disclose that in the content of each article where applicable.