Something from Nothing: Rice Salad with Orange-Sesame Dressing

My parents have lived in San Francisco long enough now that it doesn’t feel like an occasion for them to join us for lunch, but not so long that I feed them totally unadulterated leftovers. Recently, though, I barely even had leftovers; I had this:

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And so I turned it into this:

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Any grains would do, though I happened to use rice. Any chopped vegetables are nice, and fresh herbs and/or toasted nuts would liven it up. The key was the bright, orangey dressing, which I failed to photograph as individual ingredients, but at least I do remember what I did:

Orange-Sesame Dressing

Combine 1 tablespoon each
orange juice
soy sauce
rice vinegar
sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil

A tablespoon of miso would be a nice addition, too, if you have it, but this version was very much about what I had immediately at hand.

Mix well, pour over your salad, sprinkle with sesame seeds if you’ve got them, and serve.

Shredded Root Vegetable Salad


I love my CSA, I do, but sometimes, the vegetables, they just stack up. Especially when the farm’s producing root vegetables — gorgeous, sweet, root vegetables — but I am in full-on summertime tomato-pepper-corn mode. So, the root vegetables get ignored. They wait patiently in the back of the crisper — because among their many lovely virtues, they keep — until I can deal with them.

Yesterday I finally did. I pulled out the nine beets, the seven turnips and the four kohlrabi, I peeled and chopped and shredded and pickled and roasted. And then when I had packed most of it away for future salads and pasta toppings, I turned to what was left and made a salad for my dinner.

Welcome Home Carrot Salad

A week of cocktails with this view:


And meals with this view:


Meant we really didn’t care that all our food came off this truck:


But when we came home, we were certainly craving something simple and fresh like this:


Welcome Home Carrot Salad

This is less a recipe than a reminder: sometimes giving an old familiar ingredient a different treatment makes it fresh. And if you’re feeling veg-deprived, this is an easy way to eat a lot of carrots.

One pound of carrots
1/4 – 1/3 cup (to taste) of your favorite vinaigrette (we like this with a particularly lemony dressing)
fresh parsley, to taste

Shred the carrots with a box grater or in a food processor. Toss with the dressing and parsley and serve.

One More Kale Salad

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The farmer’s market is full of spring vegetables these days — asparagus and peas, artichokes and strawberries — but we’re still having cool days that make me crave wintery ingredients. So I was happy to see a new salad recipe in my CSA share; I’ve modified the recipe just a bit here, for a salad that combines dark kale and bright oranges to point toward spring.


by Caroline

What I love most about eating out is not having food brought to me, piping hot, and having my water glass refilled without my having to rise from the table. It’s not even avoiding the prep, cooking, or clean up. What I really love about eating out is the variety, a full menu of appetizer, salad, and entree options to choose from. We cook pretty well at home, but we fall often into the easiest possible routine of one pot, one dish meals, a simple something-on-grains/flatbread/pasta.

So among all the many ways I was inspired by our glorious ten days in Turkey, from the street food to the markets to the freshly-caught fish for our last lunch, I was most inspired by meze, that ever-changing, always delicious, predominantly vegetarian array of dishes to start (and in some cases, fully comprise) every meal.

I should note that the kids were not huge fans. Ben gamely tasted a variety of meze (and quite liked the little bulgar wheat patties cooked in pomegranate sauce), but Eli thought even Turkish rice was “weird.” But they did not starve or get cranky, so while I can’t now remember what they ate every day, they must have eaten.

Meanwhile, the rest of us feasted. The five of us traveling in Istanbul and then the nine of us staying together on the coast ate out, often, for the price of burritos all around. And when we cooked at our rental house we did pretty well, too:

So I have been trying to remember the pleasure of eating small tastes of many dishes now that we are home in San Francisco and recently cooked a batch of kisir, a bulgar wheat and pomegranate molasses salad we encountered in various forms throughout Turkey. I followed a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi gorgeous cookbook, Plenty, which is helpfully posted at his website but do check out the book; it is absolutely inspiring.

Once the salad was made, I filled out our meze platter (which skewed a bit Italian) with roasted artichokes, a simple grated carrot salad, caprese salad, steamed green beans, salad greens and sliced radishes. It wasn’t Turkey by any means, but it felt like a brief return, and it was delicious.