Thursday, September 10, 2009

Soul Care Dinners in 30 mins.

Maria, my friend, a very accomplished working woman (IT business owner), and a fabulous mother, inspired me to share these recipes for a soul care dinner: salad + smoothie. The recipe for salad comes from my friend Suzanne, who served me, what she called, a Japanese somen salad last month. I was instantly captivated by the colors of the salad - pale pink ham, bright green lettuce, sunny yellow eggs, creamy off white noodles - and the taste, oh, the taste was heavenly. I do wish I had a picture to share :(. Sadly, I don't. Anyway, it is a light summer salad, served chilled.

For me, Suzanne's Japanese summer-somen salad, as I call it, is just good soul care because its easy all around.  It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and when I served it to my family, it was loved by picky and hearty eaters, vegetarian and meat-only, alike. Pretty to look at and delicious to eat with the crisp texture of the cucumber contrasting well with the soft noodles and greens. Hmm... my family loves it and best of all it is not at all difficult to prepare; I can even serve the ham on the side and veggie lovers are pleased! Served with a smoothie, it takes care of a lot of the daily nutritional requirements needed by our bodies. It even stimulates conversation, I noticed. This is a bonus as I'm often the only woman at the table talking non-stop with two quite silent adult males - my husband and son - listening. A light, nutritious  dinner prepared easily, presented well, and inspiring conversation, are some of the essential ingredients of good, daily, self and soul care. Here's the recipe for the salad and the smoothie to serve 4 people.

Salad: 
Layer the following ingredients in the order listed in a serving dish for 4 (or 8x8 cake pan). Chill. 

1 bundle of Japanese somen noodles cooked
1/2 head of romaine (or any other green leaf but NOT iceberg) lettuce - sliced long & thin
2 spring onions - sliced thin
8 oz (or more) of cooked ham - sliced long & thin
1 small cucumber - sliced long & thin
2 eggs - beaten, fried, and sliced long & thin


Dressing: 
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp Sesame oil
2 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
2 tbsp Turbinado sugar
1 tbsp sesame seeds
4 (or 2) tbsp soy sauce (low sodium kind)

Shake the ingredients and chill.

Serve salad and dressing well-chilled. 

Smoothie
1 cup of strawberries (or mixed berries or blueberries - vary as you like!)
3 scoops of mango sorbet
3 cups of apple juice
4 tbsp of lebne (middle eastern cheese - also spelled labneh)
Crushed ice.

Blend. Serve with a sprig of mint. Enjoy.

Variations of the somen salad are on recipe sites such as Cooks.com: http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,somen_salad,FF.html (I skip the fish cake) and The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: http://theasiangrandmotherscookbook.wordpress.com/2007/10/25/somen-salad-tasty/ (looks different because it isn't layered but it does have detailed instructions, if you don't know how to beat your eggs, fry them like an omelette and slice them thin :)).

I have never heard of anybody making a smoothie with lebne but I wonder, did Jesus ever have lebne?  I recently started to use lebne for its health benefits and as an occasional alternative to sour cream, yogurt, cheese, kefir, etc. I call it the secret ingredient that makes my smoothies so very good for the body, mind, and soul. Enjoy.

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