Miso. Carrot. Sesame.

I can’t really explain what sort of diet Chris and I have been on lately. I suppose it isn’t a diet, rather it’s just a newer way of eating that we’ve had to implement.

The basic premise is that we try to eat as light and as healthy as possible during the week, because the weekend is always a caloric disaster. Pretty simple, right?

I’ve said this a zillion times – the food here in San Francisco is undeniably better than any food in any city I’ve ever lived (or visited for that matter). Maybe that’s a bold statement, but living here for almost a year and a half has given me a little time to audition the city’s food, and it’s true. We take full advantage of it, too. If we aren’t going out with local friends, we’re showing visitors our favorite spots instead.

For example, this past weekend my sis-in-law and her husband were visiting, and we went to Flour+Water (tasting menu!), got ice cream, and had some of the city’s best Ramen, bubble tea, and a slice of a porchetta sandwich – all in two days’ time. Oh, and Nopalito, but that goes without saying when visitors are here.

So, to help both our waistlines and our wallets, we’ve made it a point to try to stay in during the week, and to make really smart choices when we do so. That generally means a lot of vegetarian eating, including a lot of healthy grains, egg dishes, and kale – typically in salad form. Now, some of you may not like kale. I guess that’s understandable, but hopefully there is some sort of green aside from iceberg lettuce that you do like. I’ve become a huge fan of the following mix: kale, shaved brussels sprouts (which I used to despise, but now, they have a sweet spot in my heart), and spinach.

The greens alone create the most perfect trifecta. Sure, I switch them around some here and there, but generally, those are included in the mix. A few sprinkles of shaved coconut, a sprinkle of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a handful of dried fruit and a couple of chopped apples? You almost have the best kale/whatever green salad you want that you could ask for.

But one thing’s missing. One thing of utmost importance. One thing to bring it all together, to make a salad seem like so much more than a salad. And that’s this dressing. I promise you, it is so totally worth a search for the miso paste (or a click here for a bulk version). Salty and tangy, it pairs nicely with toasty sesame oil, and the slight sweetness added by agave nectar (or even honey) makes a perfectly balanced dressing. I’m sure it would be great on things other than salad, but for me, it begs to be tossed into the mixture I described above.

The fact that I’m writing about salad dressing for an entire blog post should be proof enough that this is an amazing dressing, but if you need one more urging, I’ll say it again. This here, friends, is an a-ma-zing dressing.

Miso, Carrot, & Sesame Dressing
Adapted from Bon Appetit, makes 1 1/2 cups

toss this dressing over a mixture of greens (we prefer kale, any kind) and add whatever you like. We make a habit of eating the following combo: kale, shredded coconut, raisins, fresh chopped apples, and a handful of nuts/seeds. If you use kale or any other sturdy green, give the dressing time to settle into the salad. You can even make it the night before for a lunch salad, and with kale at least, there’s not wilty action.

p.s. – I usually double this recipe and the dressing will last for a week or two, as long as your ingredients are fresh.

time commitment: 10 minutes

printable version

ingredients
1/2 c white miso
5 T canola oil
1/4 c finely grated peeled carrot
2 T finely grated peeled ginger
2 T unseasoned rice vinegar
1 T roasted white sesame seeds, optional
2 t toasted sesame oil
2 t honey or agave nectar

instructions
Place all ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a resealable container. Cover and shake vigorously until well combined. Add more water to thin out, if desired.

Fair and Square

One of our favorite types of food these days is ramen. No, not the 10/$1.00 packs that come in all sorts of flavors, like chicken, oriental, and beef, but the actual kind that you are given in a restaurant, in a gigantic bowl filled to the brim with steaming hot broth, ramen noodles, pork (or fried chicken. fried chicken!), and all sorts of other ingredients that have me salivating right this second.

We’ve tried a handful of spots in the city over the past few months, and every time I’m feeling the need for some warm comfort food my mind goes straight to ramen. I can’t get enough of it.

Of course, while waiting for said ramen to make its appearance at the table, it’s never a bad idea to have an appetizer or three. Many of these ramen joints make killer meat skewers, but often times all I want is a freakin’ potsticker. Something about a little sheet of dough enveloping a bite of meat and veggies, and then steamed and served alongside some sort of amazing dipping sauce makes me so amazingly happy. So happy that I could likely eat a couple orders of them and call it a night, if it weren’t for the ramen making its way to the table.

But when you’re home, that’s another story. I’ve eaten potstickers only quite a few times.

Potstickers are those little treats that look so damn hard to make, but are in all reality, probably one of the easiest dishes to throw together, minus the time. You toss the filling into a food processor, which means your initial chopping skills really don’t matter all that much, as long as things are similarly butchered to smithereens. You put the filling onto pre-made wrappers. You fold them (which is what people think is so dang hard. It isn’t.), and then you steam them. The sauce is nothing but a handful of ingredients whisked together (and for that, there are thousands of choices, but I’m a fan of a spicy peanut sauce, I am). Then you’re ready to chow down.

Sure, they look intricate. And sure, it might take some precision and a little patience, but there isn’t much that can go wrong, even if the wonton shapes aren’t winning beauty pageants. Either way, what results are little pockets of delightful goodness that you, I promise, won’t be able to resist.

You can even take them to a potluck if you want. And when that potluck gets canceled without your knowledge, you can smile a little on the inside, because they just turned into lunch, which means you can eat like, 10 of them, instead of 2. That’s what I call winning – fair and square.

Shrimp & Ginger Potstickers w/ Spicy Peanut Sauce
makes 24 potstickers – 4 servings as a meal, 12 as an appetizer

time commitment: 1 hour

printable version

ingredients
potstickers
3/4 c Napa cabbage, shredded
1/3 c scallions, chopped (+ more for garnish, optional)
1/4 c carrots, julienned
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 T low sodium soy sauce
2 t fresh ginger, minced
1 t dark sesame oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 lb shrimp, cooked
sriracha, optional but totally not optional
24 small wonton wrappers
2 T cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 T canola oil, divided
1 c water, divided

sauce
1/4 c water
1/4 c reduced fat peanut butter
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 T rice vinegar
1 1/2 T chile paste w/ garlic (sambal oelek)
1/2 t sugar

instructions
combine 1st 10 ingredients (sriracha to your liking) into food processor and pulse ~4 times, or until coarsely chopped and mixed together.

working with 1 wrapper at a time, spoon 1 1/2 t of filling into the center. wet the edges of the wonton with a small brush and bring opposite corners together, pinching to seal. place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch/arrowroot powder.

heat 1 1/2 t canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 12 potstickers to pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown. slowly add 1/2 c water, cover and cook for 4 minutes. uncover and cook 3 more minutes, until the liquid evaporates. Repeat again with remaining oil, potstickers, and water.

prepare sauce by combining all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and whisking until mixed.

serve potstickers with peanut sauce, garnishing with green onions, if desired.