Let's be serious for a second. I'm not fooling anyone with this vegetable stack.
You and I both know that stacking vegetables makes them look wayyy better than if I were to just carelessly throw them into a salad. It's impressive, it's fun, it's thought out, it makes you feel super creative. We should all be stacking more vegetables.
It's like when I get my hair blown out, I just feel a little more fancy and little more special. Same hair, same person, just a little something extra. Same tomatoes, same ingredients, but they just look and feel a little more special.
When I was at the market the other day, I saw dozens of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I wanted to take a bunch home and love them and make them feel special. I didn't want to mutilate them, I wanted to show off their quirky crevices and imperfect shape. I wanted to bring out their juicy texture and taste. I wanted to throw a party and have them be the main event.
Well, I ended up making this salad and ate it all by myself for lunch. Tomato party for one .... why not, right? But as I was eating it, I daydreamed about how impressive it would be to walk out with these gorgeous stacks of tomatoes as an appetizer at our next bqq. I am going to do that, I think you should too.
About once a week, we order take-out from a little Japanese place around the corner. I always order the same few things, my favorite thing being the spicy, crunchy avocado roll. Spicy ... crunchy ... yes.
I am a huge fan of recreating things that I would normally be tempted to order in or eat out, like dumplings, and sushi. I just feel better knowing what types of ingredients I am using and that there is nothing fake or artificial hiding that I might not know about. And, this way I can add some extra yummy things like crunchy shallots (god only knows what those "crunchy" bits my take-out sushi are made from).
This version of a nori roll does not require any fancy sushi rolling, in case you're intimidated to roll your own sushi. Although, if you do feel comfortable and you want to roll this bad boy up, by all means go for it. If you're like me and you want to take the less ambitious route for this one, you can just pick this up and eat it like a taco. A yummy Japanese taco.
Nori is incredibly good for you and is such a great thing to incorporate into your diet on a regular basis. It contains a long list of vitamins, but most notably a high amount of B12, which is great for those who eat a mostly plant based diet. Another great benefit for plant based people (or anyone, really) is that nori contains a high amount of protein and amino acids. And when you make your own nori wraps, you know you are getting a good quality nori. It is easy to find in the grocery store since it is the most widely used seaweed, it's usually in the Asian food or Japanese section.
Once you make this and see how easy it is, I am sure that you are going to keep a pack of nori around for when want to have this for lunch or for a snack. You can mix up combinations based on what you have in the fridge, any raw vegetable combination would work and would probably take less time than waiting for one to be delivered.
Bayley, our sweet crazy mutt dog, turned three last week (that's 21 in dog years). His birthday is March 1st. He's adopted, which means we do not know what his exact birthday is, so we gave him a made up birthday when we got him. I make sure to give him a few extra hugs on his birthday (he's a big time hugger, he loves getting hugs).
I am a bit of a crazy dog lady. I'm that person who has to stop every dog on the street just to give them a scratch and say hello. I love the dog culture and the conversations you have with other dog owners.
"This is Spot, don't mind him, he's a bit ant-social."
"Oh, Roofus loves to play, can he pay with your dog."
"Jack gets really excited when he sees big dogs, he thinks he's bigger than he really is."
It's amazing how much a dog's personality reflects their owner's. I like to think that Bayley got his happy and loving attitude from us.
The other day I was walking him around our neighborhood and a random guy stopped us on the street and asked if he could pet Bayley. This guy spent a good couple of minutes scratching him, hugging him, telling him how beautiful he was. Bayley was eating it up. Then he told me he just lost his dog and that it felt good just to pet another dog. My heart sank, but I totally knew what he meant. It just feels good to get some love from a dog.
I walked away with a giant smile on my face knowing that my dog made that random guy on the street so happy and brightened his day.
Owning a dog is not 100% love 100% of the time. There are definitely moments when I think to myself, why on earth am I taking care of this pain the butt animal. When he jumps on my friends when they come over to our apartment, or when he whines to me during the day because he would rather be outside playing. There are many moments of frustration.
But all of those moments added up do not even come close to negating the fact that animals bring so much happiness into a home.
My all-time favorite thing that someone said to Bayley on one of our walks: "That dog sure does love life."
Yes ..... yes, he does.
So for Bayley's birthday this year, he got hugs + I got a bowl of soba noodles with a ginger tahini dressing with lots of greens. Because I was more in the mood to celebrate with a bowl of soba noodles than a piece of cake.
I could eat this every day of my life and be happy. There is something about the creaminess of the tahini that gets me excited. Since I stopped eating dairy, it's the healthiest way for me to get a creamy fix.
It's no secret that I love a big bowl of noodles or a big bowl of greens, so combining the two is just double happiness for me.
The great thing about this dish is you can add any type of green or vegetable that you like, it goes with just about anything. Collards, swiss chard, carrots, cucumbers + tomatoes when the summer comes back around. Same thing goes with pairing this dish. You can add soba and tahini to so many meals as a side dish, or you can just eat it alone for lunch. Yum.
I think I am going to make this every year for Bayley's birthday, and for many of the days in-between.
Back when I worked in the corporate world, things were a little different.
I had to wake up about 30 minutes before my body wanted to every morning.
I wore high heels and starched shirts.
I would have breakfast at my desk, lunch at my desk, and I would prepare both in the little kitchen our office provided (sometimes getting odd glares from my co-workers who usually got take-out or ordered in).
On days that I was busy I would never leave my desk, and on days that I was bored I would find every excuse leave my desk.
In the winter, I would leave the office an hour or two (or three) after the sun went down. Michael and I would often get home at the same time, and on most nights we would cook.
I didn’t have as much time to get creative in the kitchen on the weeknights. Most nights I would stick to one of the several classic recipes that I knew well.
Roasted vegetables were a staple.
When I took a bite of a roasted carrot the other night, it reminded me of something. It took me a minute to pinpoint it. Usually food can take you back to a lovely place, a fond childhood memory, a memory of a beloved family member, but not this roasted carrot. This roasted carrot reminded me of my old job. It was strange. It was not necessarily a bad memory, but not a picturesque one either.
It got me thinking.
Sometimes we cook things because they are simple and easy to make. Sometimes we cook things because they taste good. Sometimes we cook things because they remind us of a person a place or a memory.
I realized, roasted vegetables are all of those things to me.
They are easy to prepare, they taste really good, and now that I've thought about it, they remind me of cold, quite nights at home with Michael when we would change into comfy clothes and catch up on our days. Maybe it is a pretty fond memory after all.
Roasted vegetable in the wintertime are good for the soul.
Kale is good for the soul too.
Marinated kale is just really good period. The marinating breaks the kale down into tender bites that are easier to eat and digest. Massaging the kale helps the process of breaking it down as well. This technique is not only good for this kale salad, but for anytime you want to eat kale raw.
The roasted vegetables make a hearty addition to the raw kale. Winter salads are best with some kind of warm element. Roasted vegetables not only warm up this salad, but they give it that nostalgic roasted taste that hopefully (for you) has a fond winter memory attached to it.