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Rainbow vegetarian salad topped with a spicy tahini dressing


Serves 4 

Sichuanese chefs make a popular spicy sesame dressing for noodles and salads. Traditionally, the sauce is made with toasted sesame paste sold in Asian markets. For convenience sake, I’ve developed a recipe where I substitute tahini paste or peanut butter, which is much more readily available, but no less delicious. Serve at room temperature or prepare in advance, refrigerate, and serve slightly chilled.



1 4-inch piece fresh ginger

7 cloves garlic

1 cup sesame tahini paste, mixed thoroughly to combine the paste with the liquid

1/ 4 cup soy sauce

1 /4 cup toasted or dark Asian sesame oil

1/ 4 cup sugar, or to taste

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 1 /2   tablespoons unseasoned Asian rice vinegar

3 /4 teaspoon hot chile paste or crushed red pepper

10 tablespoons water



In a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade, chop the ginger, garlic, pulsing until chopped finely. Add the tahini paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, rice vinegar, chili paste or hot pepper and blend until smooth. Pour the water down the feed tube while the machine is running. Taste for seasoning, adding more sugar if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl


1 14-ounce squares extra-firm tofu, sliced through the thickness in half

1 1 /2 tablespoons soy sauce

3/4  pound snap or snow peas, ends snapped and veiny strings removed

8 ounces whole wheat linguine

1 teaspoon toasted Asian sesame oil

4 carrots, grated or 2 cups shredded  

3 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into thin slices

1 1/ 2 tablespoons olive oil


1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Wrap the tofu sections in 1 layer of paper towels and place in a pie plate or any large flat pan. Place a flat cookie sheet on top and a heavy pan on top as a weight. Let sit 20 minutes to press out the excess water, discarding the paper towels and drying the tofu. Rub the surface with the soy sauce.

2. In a large soup pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, add the snap or snow peas and blanch for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out and refresh in a colander under cold, running water and drain. Bring the water back to a boil and add the noodles. Cook for about 11 minutes over medium heat, or until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold, running water. Drain thoroughly and toss with the sesame oil. Transfer to a large round serving bowl and arrange evenly with a slight indentation in the middle. Set four to five red pepper slices aside for the garnish.

3. In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the drained tofu and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 12 minutes, turning once. Drain on paper towels and cut into 1/ 4-inch thick slices.

5. Arrange the blanched snap peas, shredded carrots and red pepper slices in separate concentric circles over the noodles, leaving a well in the center and arrange the fried tofu slices there. Sprinkle the top with the reserved red pepper slices and serve with the spicy tahini sauce.

Pad Thai

1/4  cup virgin olive or canola oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, scored down the back, deveined, and rinsed
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Sweet-and-Sour Sauce:  mix together
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water

6 ounces flat rice stick noodles (pho), softened in hot water and drained
2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons minced scallion greens
1/4 cup finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut into 6 wedges each

1. Heat a wok or a heavy skillet over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil and heat until very hot, about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until they turn pink, about 1½ minutes. Remove with a handled strainer or a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Wipe out the wok.
2. Reheat the wok over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat until hot, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and cook, stirring to scramble them, until just set. Add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the sweet-and-sour sauce and the rice noodles and toss for 3 to 4 minutes, until the noodles have absorbed the sauce and are tender. Add the shrimp and bean sprouts and toss to mix. Transfer onto a serving platter and sprinkle with the scallion greens, peanuts, red pepper, and cilantro. Arrange the lime wedges around the noodles and serve.

6 Servings

Nina Simonds © 2011

Roasted Beets with Ginger and Balsamic Vinegar

2 ½ pounds medium-size fresh beets with stems, about 10 (You may roast different colored beets if available.)


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½  tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 ½ tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Trim the beet stems to 1- inch if necessary and scrub the beets. Arrange on a cookies sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil. Cover the top with the foil and roast the beets for 25 minutes. Let the beets cool enough to handle and rub off the skin.

2. Cut the beets in half, rearrange with the cut edge up on the cookie sheet and brush all part of the beets except the stem with the Flavorings. Return uncovered to the oven and continue roasting until they are very tender,

another 20 to 25 minutes. Arrange on a platter, cool slightly and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Asian Hot and Sour Slaw

4 to 6 Servings
Some cooks may consider it cheating, but I have no qualms about using the shredded coleslaw or broccoli slaw mixes and shredded carrots in supermarket produce sections. They are particularly useful when preparing vegetable side dishes that complement all types of grilled or barbecued dishes.

1 14- or 16-ounce bag shredded coleslaw
1 10-ounce bag shredded carrots
1 tablespoons olive or canola oil
¾  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 medium red pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into dice
2 tablespoons rice wine or sake

Hot and Sour Dressing, combine in a small bowl:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce

1. Heat a wok or a heavy skillet with the olive or canola and sesame oil until hot, but not smoking. Add the red pepper flakes and ginger, and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the diced red pepper and toss lightly over high heat. Add the coleslaw and carrots, and toss lightly. Add the rice wine, stir, and cover. Cook over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Uncover and add the pre-mixed Dressing. Toss lightly for a minute and remove to a serving bowl. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

Fresh Corn, Shrimp, and Roasted Pepper Salad

six servings

Although a relative newcomer to the Far East, corn has become a popular vegetable in Asia. Try this fresh-tasting salad which is delicious with freshly-picked sweet corn as well as frozen corn on the cob. The dish is a light, but filling meal and it is especially nice during the warmer weather.

8 ears sweet corn, husked or about 5 ½  cups

4 roasted bell peppers, (from the jar) drained on paper towels

1 pound medium-size cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and buterflied along the back

3 ½  tablespoons minced scallion greens

Sesame-Cilantro Vinaigrette:

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

¼ cup clear rice vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon ( 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves or scallion greens

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)

2 cups shredded Boston or Romaine lettuce

1. Cook the corn in a large pot of boiling water, about 3 to 4 minutes, or steam over high heat for 5 minutes, until cooked. Drain the corn, if necessary, and cool under cold, running water. Using a sharp knife, cut off the kernels. (There should be about 5 ½ cups.)

2. Cut the red peppers to small dice about 1/4-inch square. (There should be about 1 ½ cups.)

3. Place the corn, bell peppers, shrimp, and scallions in a serving bowl. Add the ingredients of the Sesame-Cilantro dressing and toss lightly with a spoon until the ingredients are evenly mixed and coated with the sauce.

4. Arrange the shredded lettuce on a serving plate or in a shallow bowl and spoon the corn salad on top. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

© Copyright Nina Simonds 2009.

Disclaimer: Herbs, foods, and other natural remedies are not substitutes for professional medical care.
For a specific health problem, consult a qualified health-care giver for guidance.