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Japanese Lunchbox Salad

Hey all! Great to be back after a little blogging break and a sweet few days with family both away and here at home. Last week we drove down to Portland, which from here in Vancity is about a 6 hour drive -- something we as a family love to do together. Road trips are one of those things we look back on later in life and always remember with fondness, much like a lot of our life experiences that at the time seem just ordinary, right? We love the open road, the conversations, and the unexpected finds along the way. Music, sunshine & wind in our hair. Being together. Small space & closeness.

After last year's epic family holiday in France, this summer is all about the little things for us. Little trips, closer places, smaller costs. Staying at home if we feel like it and just lounging with our feet up on the table and a glass of wine (or a green juice ;)) and a good book in our hand. Summer is like that. And we are loving every minute of it.

After we returned from our little 3 night trip, I took the rest of the week to staycation with the girls here at the cosy homestead. I didn't blog, or really do too much other than fiddle in the kitchen with my favourite records on and just enjoy spending time being with the ones I love in this world the most. My kids won't be young forever and I don't want to look back and realize I didn't do enough with them any day soon....or EVER for that matter. Time is precious, don't ever forget that. I seem to be more keenly aware of that than ever these days as my girls get bigger and my heart grows ever more.

I'll be posting a few more shots & notes on the places we hit on our travels soon, but for today let's get to this fantastic new recipe shall we? Of course no trip to Portland would be complete without a little sojourn into the City of Books --- and Powell's Books in the heart of downtown Portland is one of those places I think any book lover could easily camp in for a week, it's that awesome. Of course, after warming up with a few teaser sections, I parked myself squarely in the overloaded cookbook aisles and (after very careful contemplation and much-needed restraint) walked away with a couple new treasures that I've already christened with plenty of fresh oil stains & bright yellow highlighter and pen marks - just the way I like it. This recipe is adapted from a new Moosewood Collective book, one of the most dependable sources for delightful vegetarian recipe & salad ideas I've ever come across (they have many fantastic books out there).

Here, we see a collection of favourite ingredients come together with a Japanese twist - perfect for those who are still shy to try rolling sushi, but love the tastes & textures of the foods that come with it. Here, we have it all before you in our favourite food format ever. SALAD. But of course my friends!

Japanese Lunchbox Salad

~ Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking For Health

  • (1) cup dry short grain brown rice
  • (1 3/4) cups cold water
  • (1) cup carrots, grated or cut in matchsticks (or spiralized as I did here!)
  • (1) cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • (1) firm ripe avocado, cubed
  • (1) sheet Nori
  • (1) recipe Lemon Ginger Dressing (below)
  • (1) pound firm tofu, baked or seasoned (recipe below)
  • (1) recipe Marinated Kale

Lemon Ginger Dressing

  • (2) tbsp vegetable oil
  • (2) tbsp lemon juice
  • (1) tbsp soy sauce
  • (1) tbsp dry sherry (optional but good if you have it)
  • (1) tbsp grated ginger root

These instructions are assuming you have the tofu & the kale ready to go, but if you are planning to enjoy this through the week, having these two at the ready is a great way to have a meal for one or two in a few short minutes. You could also make these two in the morning to be on hand for dinner that night.

Start by putting up the rice to cook in a small pot with the lid on. Combine the rice and the water and bring to a boil, and once boiling, turn the heat down to low (without removing the lid) and cook, covered, for 35 - 40 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed. While the rice cooks, combine the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Prepare the carrots & tomatoes and set aside. To toast the Nori, simply cut it into a few smaller sheets and place in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 minutes until crisp. Once cooled, use scissors to cut it into smaller strips or squares as desired and set aside.

To assemble, simply arrange all of the prepared ingredients except the avocado, Nori, and the dressing, together as you like in a bowl, or use smaller amounts to make a single portion and save the rest in a container or in separate baggies for later in the week. Toss everything together with the dressing just before serving and top with cubes of avocado & toasted Nori.

Baked Tofu

  • (1) pound block firm tofu
  • (1-2) tbsp sesame oil
  • (2) tbsp soy sauce
  • (2) tbsp ketchup

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes and place in an unoiled baking dish big enough to hold the tofu in a single layer. Stir together the oil, soy sauce & ketchup and use a spatula to coat the tofu cubes well. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or so, turning here and there until the tofu is firm, browned & chewy. Remove from the oven to cool.

Feel free to adapt this recipe as much or as little as you like, and the ingredients here are really just guidelines. If you like plain tofu, this would be a really easy way to put this together, but if you (like me) like to bake it and have it on hand, then this tasty version of baked tofu is worth a try. Of course, there is also the option of your favorite pre-seasoned or smoked tofu that you can buy in your favorite store as well. I included my Marinated Kale recipe here for fun, and it was awesome, but in a pinch this dressing is certainly strong enough that you could easily use any fresh greens as well.

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