One thing this blog has demonstrated is that when a week or so goes by and I haven’t produced many exciting, blog-worthy meals, I get antsy. Even before Eating the Rind was born, if I cooked simple, no-brainer meals a few nights in a row, I would then pour through my favorite blogs and cookbooks, and consult my always expanding list of “recipes I intend to try” in order to come up with an exciting, more challenging meal than scrambled eggs.
Blaming the fact that the hubby has worked many late nights and not been around for dinner much lately, the last few weeks have been witness to many repetitive solo meals for me: pasta, quinoa and veggies. Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said for whipping up a quick favorite for yourself just in time for Modern Family, leaving almost nothing to clean up afterwards. And just because you are cooking for one doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare something hot and satisfying. An egg, in its each and every form, happens to be one of my favorite foods on the planet. However, I’m ready for something that requires a little more brainpower than simply flipping a spatula.
Another reason I haven’t cooked much lately is due to travel. Over Halloween weekend, I hightailed it to the University of Virginia to be with my nearest and dearest college buds (but don’t be mistaken, we hail from Bowdoin!). Charlottesville, Virginia is home of the Blue Ridge Mountains, those cute bugs on the lettuce leaf, and until she has an MBA in hand, Sadie. In between Halloween parties and exploring local wineries and breweries with the girls, Sadie and I managed to squeeze in a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Monticello.
Previously unbeknownst to me, Jefferson was actually quite the experimental gardener, and Monticello remains home to a 1,000 foot vegetable garden! Besides the beautiful layout and location of the garden, one outstanding feature is the variety of unusual veggies and herbs. Jefferson paid painstaking attention to the detail of his 19th century garden, experimenting with new crops and noting everything from bug infestations to soil quality. Much of his observations are still applied to the present-day garden and certain 19th century gardening techniques are still employed.
In honor of this plethora of vegetables, I give you Bok Choy Salad, shared with some other great friends last Friday.
Bok Choy Salad
1 medium head bok choy, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 (3 oz.) packages of uncooked Ramen noodles (yes, you read correctly), crushed
1/4 c. slivered raw almonds
1/4 c. raw sesame seeds
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Melt butter in large saute pan, adding Ramen noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds. Brown mixture in butter until golden. Remove from heat. After cooling for a few minutes, combine noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds with bok choy and scallions in salad bowl. Combine red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and soy sauce in empty jam jar and shake until sugar dissolves. Pour over salad and serve immediately.