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Posts from the ‘Salads’ Category

Last Gasp of Summer

big garden tomatoes

I know it’s fall–it looks, smells and feels that way here in the Pacific Northwest–but the giant tomatoes I’m still hauling in from the garden and that keep showing up in my CSA share are ever so welcome. It is that time of year for me though where there is so much produce, both summer and fall crops, that it’s hard to focus. This salad is a good way to work through a lot of tomatoes and cherish their sweet juicy-ness before they disappear for many months.

This quick salad today is not a panzanella, at least not in the typical Tuscan sense, though it may look like it to many. This is panzanella! Thank goodness for a better writer than me and one with more authority on Italian food than me to write a proper post about this wonderful, soggy, yes soggy, Tuscan dish that I ate day after day in Italy and have recreated for students and friends alike, almost always to raised eyebrows of skepticism before and appreciation and wonder after ingestion! I like many of the more modern, American adaptations with toasted bread, I just resist calling them panzanella for some stubborn nod to tradition that occasionally comes over me.

In this salad, a thick slice or two of toasted bread is cut into cubes and tossed with big chunks of tomato, feta, a bit of arugula and lots of basil and some diced red onion. Red wine vinegar and good olive oil and salt and pepper is all the dressing it needs. Buon Appetito!

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The Idea of a Salad

A "salad" picked and arranged by my son

A salad picked and arranged by my son

Upon hearing the word salad my son’s face reveals disgust or despair or just plain irritation. He actually eats bean, grain or pasta or potato salads and in a pinch even a grated vegetable salad but any kind of green salad has been rejected outright for years. He eats cooked greens in every form but NOT as a salad.

However, he devours fennel fronds and mint walking around the neighborhood and he couldn’t get enough raw pea shoots at a friend’s house for dinner recently. So last week he and I picked fennel fronds from a nearby parking strip, mint coming through a brick wall at the neighbors and pea shoots from our back yard. We washed and dried our loot and Ellis arranged it on our dinner plates. He munched away happily and had seconds, maybe thirds. I brought some olive oil, salt and lemon juice to the table for mine but found that the plain greens were actually a lovely change to our usual dressed ones.

A wonderful piece in today’s Oregonian about Xico Owner and Chef Kelly Myers reminded me of the joy and importance of cooking (or in this case gathering) with children and letting them have some agency in what and how we prepare and eat. I have my idea of what a salad should be but so does Ellis! And another recent article about urban foraging and all the edibles in  our back yards and parking strips is an inspiration to do more family foraging and expand our notion of dinner.

Summer Lentils and Beans

French green lentils with summer squash, bacon and parsley and plenty of vinegar and good olive oil.

It’s hot in Portland and getting hotter. We’re not so used to this here. I have been feeling a deep pang of empathy for the millions of people who have been living through the heat wave/drought this summer in much of the United States.

And it’s definitely that time of year when those seeds and plants we’ve been nourishing for months repay one’s devotion. There’s produce everywhere and the odd tension for me of the joy of the abundance and the pressure to manage it all is in full swing right now. If you, like me are a bit overwhelmed, there are many ways in which to share our bounty. Locally in Portland this is a great resource. Or read this piece from Culinate which landed in my inbox just at the right time yesterday.

So, how to cook/prepare food in a very hot house when there is so much beautiful fresh produce? It’s really the prefect time for the cook-with-what-you-have approach. Who has time for recipes or many steps or much stove time at all? And if you by chance have home-cooked beans in the freezer, now is the time to gloat! I have done this, the gloating (to myself alone albeit) the last few days. I added a bunch of chickpeas to a coleslaw with lots of fresh jalapenos, cilantro and mint. The chickpeas added heft and texture and it was a lovely way to spend NO time at the stove. And if you don’t have cooked beans, canned beans are a good shortcut here.

Previously cooked and then frozen navy beans with tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, sweet onions, feta, and a dressing of red wine vinegar, s & p and good olive oil.

Just now for lunch I employed some just-thawed white beans in my attempt to eat as much produce as possible in one meal. With the company of yet more jalapeno, cilantro, Walla Walla Sweets, and tomatoes (and some feta) it made the perfect hot day lunch. Oh and I added some basil too. Yesterday I added copious amounts of both dill and cilantro to a similar salad–both herbs needed using and the two got along just fine. You may never recreate some of this tossed-together summer dishes but the joy of uninhibited combinations is not to be missed!

The lentil salad with zucchini and bacon pictured above is my new favorite hearty summer salad. It was inspired by the ever creative Nigel Slater and my adaptation of this dish has found its way into most of my CSA recipe packets in the last week or two. It does require you to cook the lentils (they cook so quickly 15 – 20 min) that I don’t cook these ahead of time and freeze. And the bacon, onion and zucchini see some stove time but it’s minimal so consider doing these things while you’re making breakfast, while it’s still cool and then have dinner ready for you in the evening.

Stay cool and happy eating!

P.S. There are two spots left in my Herbs in the Kitchen Class next Thursday and there are some seats left at the Slow Food Portland dinner in celebration (and support!) of our Terra Madre delegates on Saturday, August 25th. Would love to see you there.

Summer Squash with Lentils, Parsley and Bacon
–inspired by Tender by Nigel Slater

Lentils get overlooked a bit in the summer but I especially love salads with small green lentils in the summer. You can make them ahead of time and then have a robust, room temperature dish for whenever you need it. You want to cook the zucchini until it’s nice and browned but still holding it’s shape so use high heat.

1 1/4 cups small French green lentils or other small lentils that keep their shape when cooked
Splash of olive oil
1 Walla Walla Sweet, diced
4 cups summer squash, cut into small chunks –for zucchini I quarter them lengthwise and then cut them into 1/3-inch chunks
4 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or more red wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry vinegar)
2 small-ish garlic cloves, crushed and then minced
3 (or more) tablespoons good olive oil
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
¼ cup (or more) chopped parsley

Cook the lentils until tender, about 15-20 minutes (this will vary depending on the kind of lentil you have). You want them to be tender but keep their shape so check frequently.

Drain them and immediately toss them with the vinegars, garlic and olive oil. Set aside.

In the largest skillet you have, heat a splash of olive oil over high heat and add the bacon and onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the onion softened and bacon rendered but not crisp. Remove the onions and bacon from skillet and add to lentils.

Add another splash of olive oil and the summer squash and a few generous pinches of salt. Cook the squash over high heat for about 7-8 minutes until browned and beginning to soften.

Add the warm squash to the lentils along with the chopped parsley and the additional olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and/or vinegar.

Gratitude & Salads

A salad of mustardy roasted vegetables tossed with parsley and arugula with a lemony vinaigrette.

It’s one of those mornings in Portland (Oregon) that is unspeakably beautiful–one of those days that makes the cold, clammy, gloomy days of June seem both irrelevant and from some distant past hardly to be remembered (even though it was a mere four or five days ago when I sat shivering in my kitchen with a wool scarf around my neck).

I have two pots of beans cooking. This post isn’t even about beans but as I put them on this morning I sighed a big sigh of relief. I’ve been sick for more than a week and I’ve been working too hard and the combination has once again, this spring, derailed my simple routines and pleasures. So to have sunshine and a pleasant breeze and my favorite sustenance is just too good not to note.

On to salads. It’s always salad time of year for me but it’s extra good salad time of year right now. And some of my favorite bloggers seem to think so as well. I made this one yesterday for a potluck (with a toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds instead of almonds) and I can’t wait to make this one when green beans start showing up in a few weeks and this one, which is explicitly made for the cook-with-what-you-have approach, though they all are really adaptable.

The salad pictured above was a bit of a fluke. I was developing recipes for my CSA farms and was roasting vegetables (carrots, broccoli, Japanese turnips and onions) with a mix of whole grain mustard, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil. I’m also thinking about herbs even more than usual since I’m teaching an herb class in two weeks (spots available!) and have been using them abundantly. So  I added lots of parsley and arugula which turned out to be a great foil for the richer, sweeter vegetables. So they got tossed together (at room temperature) with the greens and plenty of lemon juice and a little more olive oil. And I will be making this again soon!

Carrots, broccoli and onions roasted with whole grain mustard, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil. Lovely as is but perfect tossed with lots of parsley and arugula and lemon juice and olive oil.

Mustardy Roasted Vegetables with Parsley and Arugula

This is a nice variation to plain roasted vegetables. One of my favorite things to do with these, once roasted and a bit cooled is to toss them with lots of parsley and/or arugula or just lettuce. You could add feta or ricotta salata or another cheese of choice. You could roast different vegetables (peppers, potatoes, zucchini even). Then add a bit more lemon juice and olive oil and make a big salad out of it. Or you can toss it with quickly cooked kale and some more lemon juice. Quantities are approximations. Use however many vegetables you want in whatever ratio you want.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1 large onion, cut in half and sliced in ½-inch thick half-rounds
5 Japanese salad turnips, scrubbed but not peeled and cut into wedges (optional)
6-7 carrots, scrubbed and cut into ½ – ¾-inch slices on the bias
2-3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the vegetables in a big bowl. Mix the other ingredients in a small bowl and then toss the mustard mixture with the vegetables mixing very well. I use my hands to get it thoroughly mixed—messy but fun and effective.

Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet with sides—try not to crowd and use two sheets if you have too much for one. Roast for 20 minutes then stir and keep roasting until all vegetables are tender and beginning to brown around the edges.

As noted above, these are delicious tossed with greens or kale for an unusual salad or just eaten as is, hot or at room temp.

Happy Cooking!

When Time is Short – Chickpea Avocado Salad Sandwich

Cooked chickpeas are mashed together with avocado, cilantro, green onion and lots of lemon juice. Eat by the spoonful, on/between toasted bread, in a tortilla, as a dip. . . .you get the point. It’s delicious and versatile.

Time has been short for my lately, hence my long absence here. I’ve been consumed with all sorts of projects and I have missed this place. So, hello again!

These busy weeks have had a few silver linings, one of which was that I was probably living more like many of my students (and possibly readers) who have far less time than me to spend in the kitchen and less time thinking about what to make for ourselves and our families on a daily basis. And thus I have gained a bit of perspective and have some new ideas about how to eat well and with minimal stress (and minimal processed food) in times of heavy workloads.

Yesterday I taught a class as part of the Wellness Program for county employees. Many of them work 10-hour days and getting a healthy, delicious meal on the table is really a stretch. I taught three things (a frittata with snap peas, herbs and feta; an arugula, white bean and tuna salad, and this chickpea avocado dish). They were all devoured but this one was met with the most initial skepticism and then maybe loved the most–for its adaptability, speed, and flavor. I also love this dish because it uses herbs in great, heaping quantities. I’m teaching an herb class in July because I’m almost as much of an herb evangelist as I am a bean evangelist.

If you have pre-cooked chickpeas on hand (or you can use canned ones after rinsing well) this comes together in minutes.

I got the idea for this salad/spread/dip here and have since made it with mint instead of cilantro, green garlic instead of green onions, cumin and smoked paprika, and Serrano chilies and lime juice instead of lemon. You can mash it really well for an almost hummus like consistency or leave it chunky. You can thin it down with more bean cooking liquid, water or more juice and olive oil. You can make a big batch and have it for lunch several times in a row. . . .In other words, it’s a perfect cook-with-what-you-have/like candidate.

You can just gently mix all ingredients or mash them together well for completely different consistencies.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad/Sandwich
–inspired by twopeasandapod.com

This is delicious as a dip, on toasted bread, as a sandwich filling or just as is. You can adapt this in many ways too—add your favorite hot chilies or hot sauce, different spices or herbs, etc. See more ideas for variations above. I particularly like using mint or basil or a combination. Tarragon and chives are good and so is parsley.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 greens onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1 small or ½ a large, ripe avocado
1/3 cup (or more) chopped cilantro (stems and all)
Juice of half a lemon or lime (or more to taste)
Splash of good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas in a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients and mash some more and mix well. If you want to serve it more like a salad or side, just lightly mash the chickpeas and dice the avocado and mix everything together more gently. You don’t need to achieve such a uniform texture in that case.

Spring Potato Salad

The perfect way to use up some of the hardboiled eggs you might have lying around this week.

If you spend any time on this site at all you know how much I love parsley–I use it as a salad green, I mix it with lemon, garlic and olive oil for a topping to most anything, . . . And you know the same is true for Greek yogurt. So combine the two with waxy yellow potatoes and hardboiled eggs and you get my new favorite potato salad. And if you have hard-boiled eggs a plenty thanks to the Easter Bunny, well then, put them to use here!

This is going to be a very short post since I’m off to the Slow Food USA National Congress and Board Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow. You don’t hear much about my Slow Food work here but it has been occupying a lot of my time and energy and is as about as linked to Cook With What You Have as you can get, so I figure it’s worth a mention. . .

What is Slow Food? Imagine a world where the food we eat is good for us, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet. Slow Food USA is building that world by bringing people together through the common language of food. Through local projects, educational events and campaigns in 150 countries, Slow Food volunteers are promoting environmentally friendly food production, teaching children how to grow and prepare their food, and working to make real food accessible to all.

And finally, for a look into a Cook With What You Have class check out this short profile. In a few weeks I’ll be able to post the actual cooking episodes on Food Farmer Earth this video will be introducing.

Spring Potato Salad with Creamy Parsley Dressing

The capers and lemon zest really round out this simple but hearty dish. And I am generous with the yogurt in the dressing. You want a really creamy salad so don’t skimp.

You can also use the dressing on roasted polenta or any kind of grains or beans that you’re serving at room temperature. It’s great with roasted veggies, in fish tacos . . .

Serves 4

1 ½ lbs. Yukon gold, red or other waxy, firm-fleshed potatoes (about 5-6 small-medium)
2-3 hardboiled eggs, roughly chopped
½ a big bunch of parsley
2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
½ cup Greek or plain whole milk yogurt (or more, to taste)
1 small garlic clove, minced or preferably mashed (or pressed)
Zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon (or a bit more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their skins until tender. Drain and let cool. Peel if you’d like or skip this step (I usually skip it) and cut into bite-sized chunks. Mix all remaining ingredients (except the eggs) in a medium bowl. Taste the dressing to make sure it’s salt enough and has enough acidity. The capers add a bit of both and if you’ve mashed the garlic with some salt, go easy on the salt at first—though potatoes soak up a lot of salt. The dressing will be fairly thick. You can thin it out with a bit more olive oil or milk or cream or even a little water if you’d like. Mix the dressing carefully into the potatoes and finally add the chopped egg.



Salad

From top left: beet, orange and radicchio salad; roasted squash, black bean, avocado and cilantro salad; raw collards with pickled apples and toasted walnuts; and mixed salad with chopped egg.

I got to have lunch with my mother today. You’ve heard about her many times here but not lately. I was standing at the counter in the kitchen this morning mixing yogurt into my muesli with fruit and granola and I had one of those moments where you catch yourself, you recognize yourself in someone else. You realize how fundamentally you’ve been shaped by someone else, you have similar reactions, tastes, expressions. . . . It made me smile, feel old and all-grown-up and quite comfortable actually.

And then she came by for a quick lunch today. As per usual I tossed together whatever I had on hand to make a hearty salad. Today that was already cooked barley (Jet Barley) and already roasted squash. I had a few radishes, a lone scallion, some goat cheese (leftover from Saturday’s Improv class), a handful of parsley, a few leaves of romaine, and one puny slice of bread which I toasted and then tore up in to tiny bits. This all sounds rather odd but dressed up with a nice vinaigrette enlivened with my apple cider syrup it was just right–chewy, fresh, and rich from the squash and cheese.

Barley, radish, parsley and squash salad and my lovely mother and me.

I’m not suggesting you recreate this particular mix. What I do suggest–surprise, surprise (!)–is that you have cooked beans or grains or roasted or fresh veggies on hand so that tossing something like this together is a snap. My mother often does this and I remember her doing this especially when my father was away for work. Meals got simpler, less conventional (though she was never terribly conventional!).

This winter I’ve been making random concoctions like this a lot and I’m getting better at them, with the exception of the one with grated rutabaga (which can be very good in salads), roasted beets, and radicchio. It’s fun to balance textures and flavors and create such colorful one-bowl meals with odds and ends. And I continue to be inspired by Plenty (the beet salad above, for instance) though I rarely have all the ingredients Yotam Ottolenghi calls for but his combinations are so brilliant and they’ve been adapting well.

I realize I’m not giving you a precise recipe but you might not need one. Just think of your salad bowl and the contents of your pantry and fridge as your inspiration. Make a zippy dressing of some kind and see what happens. And if that seems too vague or scary and you happen to live in the  Portland, OR area then come to the upcoming Pantry & Quick Meals or Kitchen Confidence (techniques, substitutions, etc. ) or Salad classes!

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Apple Cider Syrup

Apple cider cooked down to a syrup. Spectacular in salad dressings, cocktails, etc.

I have a few aces in my cooking repertoire, not that many, but a few. And this one is probably at the top of the list. Like most things I cook and teach it’s pretty straightforward, laughably simple actually. It came about a few years ago when I had lots of apple cider left over from my family’s cider pressing party. So I decided to reduce about a gallon of the cider until it just got syrupy which took my gallon down to about a pint. (If you reduce a bit too far, add some cream and a little salt for the most divine apple cider caramel sauce!)

I started using a teaspoon or two in salad dressings and I was hooked. The stronger winter greens this time of year are perfectly complemented by this “mystery” ingredient in the dressing. Countless times people have asked me what was in my salad dressing and a friend now can’t make big enough salads since her 8-year-old eats practically the whole bowl. I have to admit this has not worked with  my 4-year-old  . . ..

This syrup also inspired the Party Class I co-taught with cocktail wizard Scott Taylor this last weekend. He encountered the syrup in a Beans Class  (that by the way I’m teaching again with new recipes January 7th) earlier this fall and immediately went home and started mixing drinks with it. It is a winner mixed with bourbon, ginger syrup, bitters and lemon!

Cider syrup over Greek yogurt.

Beyond salads and cocktails the syrup is wonderful over ice cream or Greek yogurt, drizzled onto soups or braises or roasted vegetables or fruits, on pancakes or waffles. . .. It’s sweet and tart and complex and contributes almost anywhere. So go buy a couple of gallons of apple cider, reduce it and give your friends who like to cook and drink a little jar or it as a gift. Or just make a bunch and freeze some. It also keeps well in the fridge for several months.

And speaking of gifts, you might also give the gift of a cooking class (to yourself or others) this season– a gift that doesn’t clutter anyone’s home yet makes a daily difference for the tummy!

Apple Cider Syrup

1 gallon apple cider (not apple juice)

In a large pot or saucepan bring the cider to a boil. Let boil, uncovered until gallon has reduced to approximately two cups of syrup and consistency is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This can take anywhere from 40 to 90  minutes depending on the size of your pan, the strength of your stove, etc. Refrigerate or freeze when cool.

Barley and Pomegranate Salad

This salad goes down very easily.

I did not plan to post about grain salads two weeks in a row, or about grain salads that involve a lot of messy, red splatters in the process. Today it’s pomegranates not beets but I dare say they are messier than the beets. But worth it! I rarely use pomegranates but Yotam Ottolenghi can convince me to use most anything. And I have struggled with barley salads in the past, as you might recall, but no more.

I ate pomegranates when I lived in southern Italy and remember being enchanted seeing them growing for the first time. They are beautiful and they are a bit of pain. I found splatters about seven feet up on a kitchen wall about six feet from where I had been working. Wear an apron when you’re picking out the seeds and wipe down your walls afterwards. And if you have tricks to extract the seeds with less mess, please share!

The touch of allspice and the plentiful sherry vinegar are key to the perfection of this dish.

Other than that, this salad is a cinch. It’s subtly seasoned with ground allspice and minced garlic and more forcefully so with sherry vinegar. The result is a crunchy, juicy, fresh yet hearty salad that is nothing short of gorgeous. Enjoy!

Pretty Salad.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. One spot left in this Saturday’s class, that I’m now calling Party with Class (instead of Eat, Drink & Be Merry). The menu of both cocktails and treats is, well, a bit ridiculous. . . I’m going to be prepping and cooking for the next few days straight.

Barley and Pomegranate Salad
–adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

This is a gorgeous, fresh and unexpected combination. It’s lovely this time of year when pomegranates show up in the markets. I did not have dill on hand either of the times I’ve made this and it was wonderful. I’m sure it would be even better with dill, as written below.

Serves 4-6 as side

1 cup pearl or hulled barley (hulled is the whole grain version and takes a bit longer to cook and is what I used here)
6 celery stalks (leaves picked and reserved, stalks cut into small dice)
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped dill
seeds of one large pomegranate

Cook barley in salted water until tender, 30 – 40 minutes. Drain barley and transfer to a bowl. Add oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper and celery and mix well. Let cool, then add herbs and pomegranate seeds. Taste and adjust seasoning.


Peanut Noodles (and Kimchi)

This is a quick dish if you have a decently stocked pantry and some fresh veggies on hand. And leftover peanut sauce is always good to have around.

This dish is much more photogenic before you mix in the peanut sauce so I’m sparing you the image of the homely but very tasty results. I have taught this dish (or variations of it) many times and figured it was time to post it after a 7-year-old neighbor/friend requested it for dinner the other night. I love it when children want bold flavors and I happily obliged. I accidentally made it a bit spicier than I intended but said 7-year-old ate a big serving and only at the end, quietly admitted to her mom that it was a bit too spicy!

I like this substantial, room temperature dish especially when it gets cooler out. It’s hearty and warming because of the zippy peanut sauce but it’s also crisp and fresh from the lime juice and the raw veggies. If you have leftover chicken floating around or some shrimp in the freezer it would be even heartier but it’s pretty substantial as is.

My first batch of Kimchi.

There is a thriving “pickle scene” in Portland evidenced by the number of vendors of all things pickled and fermented at our many farmers’ markets, the pickle plates on restaurant menus, and at not-to-be-missed annual Portland Fermentation Festival that alas I have always missed!

Fermented foods were once a more substantial part of many culture’s cuisines and still are in some places, especially in Southeast Asia.  In addition to being a good way to preserve the harvest, add flavor and punch to any meal, they are very good for us. So with all this in mind and some beautiful Napa cabbage in the fridge I jumped into the fermentation fray guided by this witty and experienced fermenter and made Kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) for the first time. It was straightforward and fun and now I have lots of lovely jars of it to enjoy and give away. If you’ve made it before or just love it, I’m eager to hear how you make it and eat it. So far I’ve mostly been eating as a side/garnish with other things but look forward to branching out.

And finally, I have spots available in my Beans and Grains in Hearty Winter Salads class. We’ll be using all kinds of beans, quinoa, and farro and mixing them with arugula, kale, broccoli, beets and winter squash (not all together!) for the most satisfying dishes.

Peanut Noodles

–adapted from Skillet Chronicles

Serves 4 as main or 6-8 as side

Quick, easy (if you have everything on hand), and a crowd pleaser. Feel free to add other veggies like thinly sliced cucumber, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, etc. This is one of the few dishes in which I prefer whole wheat spaghetti. Barilla is my favorite brand for this.

For the sauce:

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced to a paste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 Serrano chile with seeds and membrane, minced or 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar

2-3 tablespoon hot water

For the salad:

2/3 pound whole wheat or white spaghetti

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 carrots, grated

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

¼ cup mint or basil or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (or a combination)

Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.

Mix grated carrots with 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and let sit while you cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.  Drain pasta in a colander, reserving half a cup of the cooking liquid, and rinse with cold water until cooled.  Toss with sesame oil and place in a large serving bowl.

Add carrots, pepper, scallion and herbs to the noodles and toss.  Pour about half of the sauce over the noodles and toss with a couple of spoons or a pair of tongs, adding more sauce as needed to coat the noodles.  If the sauce is too thick to blend smoothly with the noodles and vegetables, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water while tossing. Serve at room temperature.