a lesson in {yummy} restrictions: vegetarian lettuce rolls with oyster mushrooms, chinese eggplants, and shishito peppers

cooking minette's salad rollsyes, i’ve been away for a little while now, but i have a perfectly good excuse-i’ve been challenging myself of late to {enjoy} a lighter, healthier diet, and have said goodbye to many of the fun stuff (for the moment)-the grains, sugar, and generally pesky carbohydrates i hate to admit i love so much. not quite sure how long this phase will last, but i’m determined to give it a good old try. can you imagine how hard this is for someone who likes to think

wok fired oyster mushrooms

about, talk about, and experiment with (as in EAT) food all the time? well, it was hard for the first few days, but i’ve fallen into a good rhythm of sorts (which means i’m beginning to like it AND the way it makes me feel)- i’ve learned to carry good snacks with me: bananas, almonds, awfully delicious (and somewhat sweet, although unsweetened) coconut flakes, berries in a bag (yes, they do get mushy sometimes), roasted seaweed. it also helps to keep the fridge packed with lots of fresh vegetables and greens, (the aforementioned) berries (although they are out of season and i feel slightly guilty), cooked quinoa (hopefully not really considered a grain-looked it up: quinoa is the seed of the chenopodium or goosefoot plant-interesting quinoa article), hardboiled eggs, and greek yogurt (latest obsession). keeping in line with the new diet, i thought i’d treat the family to a fun (and surprisingly satisfying) dinner a few nights ago-it turned out to be one of the best dinners we’ve had in a long while: salad rolls made (rolled) with all sorts of delicious goodies courtesy of the lovely korean market. basically, i set up a {salad roll} “bar” with lots of fresh and wok fired veggies and one amazing peanut sauce (recipe below). everyone then made their own delicious little bundles the way they liked them (slightly less work for me). after we had devoured several rolls a piece, my husband declared that this really was (is) the way to eat! i smiled wide knowing how easy and fun the well appreciated meal had been to prepare. one happy mina :)

for wok fired shishito peppers, eggplants, & oyster mushrooms:

  • in a wok, heat 1-2 tsp of vequick fired shishito peppersgetable oil (i used virgin unfiltered  coconut) and 1 tsp  of toasted sesame oil. add the peppers (do each item separately, same method) to the hot wok and stir fry on high for just a few minutes (3-5), then add a splash of soy sauce (or a sprinkle of seasalt), and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
  • eggplants: cut them in evenly sized pieces and repeat the process above-eggplants may need slightly more oil, and time.


cooking minette salad rolls

delicious spicy peanut sauce:

  • 2-3 tbs organic peanut butter (use peanut butter that is peanuts only-no additives, and chunky works well)
  • about 1/4 cup (more or less) coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha sauce (or other favorite hot sauce or cayenne pepper will do)
  • 1-2 tbs soy sauce,  2-3 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar or raw honey (or omit the sugar altogether)

**another good sauce option: spicy green cilantro sauce aka green sauce at our house.**

  • other ingredients you will need (give or take): sprouts (bean sprouts and radish sprouts here), organic lettuce, basil, mint, or cilantro leaves (i had none this time), and optionally rice paper wraps (see this other recipe).

wok fired chinese eggplants

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two irresistible sauces, vegetarian salad rolls, and cooking artichokes!

lately i haven’t been able to spend as much time on this blog as i’d like, and i’ve truly missed you! there are two important reasons: one is that i’ve been busier with work (the one that’s supposed to pay a few bills), and the other is that once again, spring (now almost summer) has sprung, and i find myself in the oh-so-familiar position of needing to shed a few pounds…which means i’m trying (not) hard (enough) to eat lighter meals (as in salad, salad, salad, smoothie, juice, salad, juice, an occasional cardboard aka brown rice cake, green smoothie…you get the picture). along those lines there are a few treats i’ve been able to enjoy without feeling guilty or like i’m cheating (who? me? never!): salad rolls (or spring rolls) are super easy to make and even easier to enjoy with this fast and simple spicy peanut sauce which goes with almost everything. artichokes simply boiled are another treat we’ve been enjoying with our favorite lemony dijon sauce that also can be used in so many ways (great as a salad dressing). all you need to make the spring rolls happen is rice paper rounds (no cooking necessary-just soak in a plate of water for less than a minute on each side), fresh herbs, and any and all vegetables you enjoy. this time i added quickly baked sprouted organic tofu (recipe for baked tofu & vegetarian ceviche here). what really makes the rolls become a satisfying meal is the following peanut sauce:
minette’s quick & easy peanut sauce: 

  • 2-3 tbs organic peanut butter (use peanut butter that is peanuts only-no additives)
  • about 1/4 cup (more or less) coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha sauce (or other favorite hot sauce or cayenne pepper will do)
  • 1-2 tbs soy sauce 
  • 2-3 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar or raw honey
blend together, then add very finely chopped cilantro-if the consistency is too liquid, add more peanut butter. taste and adjust ingredients as necessary.

to put together the spring rolls: moisten the rice paper one at a time quickly on each side in a plate with water then place on a dry plate and add lettuce, then finely sliced vegetables (cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers in this case), then sliced baked tofu (or chicken or beef) fresh mint &/or cilantro. begin wrapping by folding the bottom over, then bringing the two sides in tightly-the rice paper sticks together. you can store these in the refrigerator for a few hours (lightly covered and not too close to each other) prior to serving.

cooking artichokes, and lemony dijon sauce:

to prepare artichokes for boiling, cut the tops off slightly, then snip the sharp ends of each “leaf” with your kitchen scissors. stand artichokes up in a deep pot, then add water (not covering the artichokes-about 1/3 to 1/2 way up), sea salt (1-2 tbs), and 1/2 of a fresh lemon. bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover the pot, and allow them to cook for about 25-30 minutes or until you can easily pull a leaf out. remove from water, turn upside down, and allow them to drain. serve with this delicious sauce (chilled):

  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs good quality grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tbs sour cream or organic mayonnaise 
  • 1 tsp very finely minced shallot
  • 1-2 tsp finely minced fresh herb of choice (dill, tarragon, parsley…)

taste and adjust ingredients as necessary
blend well, then chill and serve.

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