Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad

A few months ago my favorite store announced a limited release of a Black Garlic Tamari Soy infused balsamic vinegar. I promptly went to the store for a taste and it quickly became one of my favorite products. The lovely umami flavor of soy paired with the tangy sweetness of balsamic and a light punch of garlic makes every mouthful interesting. I’ve used it in place of soy sauce in numerous dishes, from fried rice to scrambled eggs to this delightful Thai peanut salad I have here to share with you today.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

In my never-ending love affair with my spiralizer, I recently meal-prepped a super easy, healthy, and delicious salad for my weekly lunches. With very little knife work required, the vegetable prep happens quickly instead of feeling like you are standing in the kitchen chopping for nine hours. The sauce comes together even faster, made easily in a blender or food processor. Chopping some peanuts are all you have to do by hand, and I promise that takes less than a minute.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired in part by last year’s cashew zoodle salad, I wanted to experiment with a peanut-based version. Peanut is far and above my favorite flavor of nut, and pairing it with soy and spice is nearly always delightful. Olivelle’s introduction of this soy-like balsamic sealed the deal in working on this creation.

Thai Peanut Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

I opted to use peanut butter powder in the sauce because the oils already add plenty of fats, but you can certainly use regular peanut butter too. (Just start with half the amount to begin with as the peanut flavor often comes through much strong.) Complemented with tangy balsamic, nutty sesame oil, a hint of sweet maple, and the heat of crushed red pepper flakes, this sauce covers nearly all the taste profiles in every delicious bite. I made mine quite thick to blend nicely with all the water zoodles tend to release, but to use as a regular salad dressing you can thin it was additional water.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Crispy veggies and tangy dressing topped with crispy peanuts are a perfect summer side dish or entree. Round it out with steak, grilled chicken, or tofu, served either on top or alongside this tasty salad. As its sans lettuce this is a perfect meal prep option, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week with your dressing reserved in a separate container until ready to eat. It also lends itself well to additional garnishes, like mandarin orange, sesame seeds, scallions, or just a sprinkle of extra red pepper flakes.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini
2 large carrots, peeled

2 medium bell peppers
1 medium red onion
1 small red cabbage
1 large cucumber
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
garnishes: mandarin, sesame seeds, scallion, red pepper flakes
optional: protein of choice (steak, chicken, tofu, chickpeas)

Thai Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter powder1
1/4 cup (Toasted) sesame oil
1/4 cup water, to taste
2 Tbsp Black Garlic Tamari Balsamic Vinegar2
2 tsp maple syrup3
1/4 tsp (Roasted Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions

  1. Wash and spiralize all veggies: 5mm for zucchini, 2mm for carrot, and the flat blade for the remaining veggies. (Or chop them all, if you don’t have a spiralizer.)
  2. Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add extra red pepper flakes or water as desired, but remember the zucchini will release a lot of water and thin the sauce substantially.
  3. For meal prep: divide zucchini evenly among four 5-cup containers. Top each with 1/4th of the remaining veggies. Add 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts and 2-4 Tbsp sauce to separate small containers, and tuck them in with the veggies. Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 1 week.
  4. To serve: layer the zucchini in a large serving dish, then top with remaining veggies. Add 1/2 cup dressing and toss until well coated. Taste and toss with additional dressing if you prefer a more generous coating.
  5. If desired, layer on protein of choice, then drizzle with a small amount of extra sauce.
  6. Top with crushed peanuts, and any other garnishes you like (mandarin orange, extra red pepper flakes, sesame seeds). Serve promptly.

Notes

You could also use regular peanut butter, but start with about 3 tablespoons and adjust after tasting.

If necessary, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce should be an acceptable substitute.

If you use a sweetened peanut butter, like Jif, start without syrup and adjust after tasting.

Southwest Salad

Hello friends, I hope you have been enjoying National Ice Cream Month! Here to offset this sugar rush of a month is the part two of July’s salad trio. We’re headed south of the border with one of my favorite salads in Bozeman.

Southwest Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

One of the perks at my place of employment is a company-sponsored team lunch every two weeks. Because my team is fairly large, we have a few staple places that are likely to be able to seat us. Starky’s Authentic Americana is one such restaurant and I’m never sad when it’s the choice of the day. One of my favorite meals there is their southwest salad: a delicious but still light and healthy experience including pineapple black bean salsa and chipotle ranch dressing. I often get it with chicken for a protein boost but it stands on its own just as well.

Southwest Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired to make my own copycat, I set out to make a pineapple black bean salsa and a chipotle lime crema tailored to my own preferences. With a few modifications, A Hint of Honey helped me out on the salsa front and Isabella Eats inspired my chipotle lime crema. The crema was featured previously on the blog in my chipotle lime tuna-stuffed sweet potatoes, but I actually originally developed it for this recipe over a year ago! Somehow I’m just now getting around to sharing this salad with you, but hopefully it was worth the wait.

Chipotle Lime Crema {{Baking Bytes}}

The salsa is a joyous mix of fresh pineapple and savory black beans, accompanied by a little lime and the bite of fresh red onion. Over time the flavors marry together perfectly so I highly recommend making your salsa in advance. It keeps well in the fridge for at least a week, at which time I’d devoured all of it. The original recipe calls for cilantro, which I do not eat, but I will only judge you a little if you decide to add it to yours.

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa {{Baking Bytes}}

A base of spinach or romaine is topped with (optionally sautéed) bell pepper and zucchini for some extra veggies and color. I like to add pulled venison/elk or grilled chicken here, but it makes for an excellent vegetarian meal without it. Some pineapple black bean salsa, a handful of tortilla strips, and a drizzle of crema round out the dish into a lovely sweet and spicy combination. You can easily make this recipe vegan by using a non-dairy yogurt for the crema, and skipping the meat and cheese, of course.

Southwest Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Customize to your heart’s content with additional toppings like avocado or diced tomato (if you must) and then serve to adoring fans for a healthy summer meal that comes together super quickly. Make the salsa and meat ahead of time, and you have an easy 15-minute meal almost ready to go.

Southwest Salad (Taco) {{Baking Bytes}}

Additionally, if you’re not a salad person, combine these components into an awesome taco instead!

Southwest Salad

Inspired by Starky’s Authentic Americana
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil, optional
1 medium zucchini, julienne cut
1-2 bell peppers, thinly sliced

5-10oz Spinach/Romaine, to taste
1 1/2 cups pineapple black bean salsa (below)
1 – 1 1/2 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
1 cup tortilla strips, to taste
1/2 – 1 cup chipotle lime crema

optional toppings: avocado, diced tomato, grilled chicken, pulled venison, etc

Directions

  1. (Skip to step 4 if you prefer raw veggies.)
  2. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  3. Add zucchini and bell peppe, then lightly sauté to preferred tenderness.
  4. In your serving bowl(s), add desired amount of greens.
  5. Layer on zucchini and bell pepper (and top with meat, if using.)
  6. Evenly spoon on pineapple black bean salsa then sprinkle with cheese, tortilla chips, and any additional toppings you want to throw on it.
  7. Drizzle with chipotle lime crema (and freshly ground pepper, if desired) and serve promptly.

Notes

These components also make for an excellent taco!

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa

Adapted from A Hint of Honey
Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups fresh diced pineapple
1 cup black beans (or just use the whole can if you want)
1/2 cup diced red onion1
1 jalapeño, minced
3 Tbsp lime juice (1-2 limes), to taste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp (Roasted Garlic or Lime Fresco) sea salt

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  2. Cover and chill about 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend, or until ready to use.
  3. Great with salads, tacos, chips, and a spoon!

Notes

If raw red onion is too strong for you, soak the cut onion in cold water for about 10 minutes, then drain and add to the salsa.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Springtime means lemon in my brain, so when I saw this spiral tart from Bunsen Burner Bakery I knew I wanted to incorporate that flavor. A lemon hummus seemed the perfect accompaniment to a series of veggies and I set out to test this hypothesis.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The bright flavor of lemon is complimented by a generous amount of garlic. I opted to use my hefty supply Olivelle products but you can use standard varieties if needed. The turmeric lifts the yellow coloring up a notch which isn’t necessary for the tart but it’s beautiful for a party platter. You’ll have plenty of leftover hummus to enjoy on its own, and it provides a lovely creamy base for this tart without any additional sogginess.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

My trusty no-fail pie crust recipe is the base for this delicious dish. Since I don’t have a tart pan (something I should probably rectify, pronto) I used a standard 9″ pie plate, which works just fine. I love this pie crust recipe because it never gets over browned, but you can easily substitute your own go-to pastry here if you wish.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The flaky pastry and crisp lemon flavor of the hummus blend beautifully into a base for all your veggies of choice. I chose zucchini, carrot, summer squash, and eggplant, but feel free to use whatever you have laying around the kitchen that you can slice with a mandolin. You’ll want veggies thin enough to bend, but no thinner. On my mandolin I used the thinnest setting for the carrot and the next one up for the rest of the vegetables, but definitely do a test slice to see what makes sense for yours.

spiral_tart_2

Concentric rings of vegetable goodness are pleasing to the eye and the tongue. Finished with a bit of rosemary (or your favorite herb) for a spark of flavor and a pretty garnish, this tart is a prefect addition to your next brunch. This tart is inherently vegan (presuming you use a vegan pie crust) but for the rest of us a sprinkle of goat cheese is the perfect topping for each piece. To round out the meal, I enjoyed mine with a side of eggs and fruit.

spiral_tart_5

This tart would be sure to please at a Mother’s Day brunch, or to brighten any regular day too. If you have any leftovers, they are excellent cold or reheated in the oven, so be sure to enjoy every last bite!

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Inspired by Bunsen Burner Bakery
Makes one 9″ tart

Ingredients

pastry for a single-crust pie

1 medium zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small yellow squash
3 large carrots
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic ) olive oil

1/2 cup lemon garlic hummus (below)

1-2 tsp fresh rosemary or other herb

lemon garlic hummus (adapted from Well and Full)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic or Sicilian Lemon) olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp Garlic and 1 Tbsp Lemon)
2 Tbsp tahini
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on if you’re using infused oil)
zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp (Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Make ahead: add all hummus ingredients to a food processor, starting with half the lemon juice, and process until smooth. Taste and add additional lemon juice (for flavor) or oil (for consistency) as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Gently lay pastry in a 9″ pie plate or tart pan. Trim and crimp the edges, as desired. Refrigerate pastry for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Prick pastry generously all over with a fork (or use pie weights if you prefer) and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the veggies.
  5. Use a mandolin to thinly slice all the veggies. (On mine I used setting 2 for the squash and eggplant, and setting 1 for the carrots.) Add all the slices to a large bowl and use your hands to gently toss in olive oil. Don’t add too much oil because the eggplant likes to soak it all up!
  6. Retrieve the pastry and spread 1/2 cup of hummus evenly along the bottom.
  7. Starting from the outside, layer the strips of veggies in whatever order you like; I opted for a repeating pattern of concentric circles but it’s totally up to you.
  8. Spray with olive oil (or lightly brush it on) and sprinkle with rosemary or herb of choice.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and starting to crisp, and crust is a golden brown. If necessary (it wasn’t for me) you can cover the crust edges with foil if they are browning too quickly.
  10. Serve warm, optionally topped with goat cheese. Goes great with a side of eggs and fruit!
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge. I suspect it’d last about 3 days but I can’t confirm because we ate it all before then. Enjoy chilled or reheat in the [toaster] oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

With spring having officially grace us with its presence, we are often flipping between snow, rain, and sun (sometimes all in the same day.) I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for salad season. I do eat salads all year round but there’s something about summer that makes me crave it as an entree rather than just a side, and I get a lot more creative with my toppings when I’m not sautéing them all just for the warmth.

 

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

A few weeks ago I topped a sweet potato with tuna salad and a new era was born. If you’re not normally  a tuna salad fan don’t leave yet! This chipotle-lime crema might just change your mind. Inspired by the chipotle ranch from one of my favorite salads at a local lunch spot, I make mine with plain Greek yogurt for a bit of tang. I love this crema for salads, tacos, eggs, and for dipping quesadillas and I hope you do too.

Chipotle-Lime Crema {{Baking Bytes}}

Tangy yogurt, spicy chipotle peppers, and lime juice are a perfect blend of tart and spicy. A bit of salt rounds it out nicely, and adding garlic is rarely a poor decision. It’s easy to adjust the spice level with makes it great for any tolerance, and you could definitely add cilantro if you’re in to that sort of thing. Not a fan of Greek yogurt? Swap it out for sour cream or mayo as you prefer.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

M’s uncle is an avid fisherman and we read the benefits with pints of home-canned wild-caught Albacore. I’ve always been a tuna fan but this truly takes it to a whole new level. But don’t worry, the canned stuff works just fine here too. Mixing it with the chipotle crema adds a lovely spiciness while maintaining the creamier texture. It’s great for sandwiches, patty melts, wraps, or however you normally eat your tuna salad (let me know in the comments!) but my favorite way is definitely atop a sweet potato.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

The sweetness of the baked potato blends perfectly with the spicy crema. Sautéed bell peppers and red onion brings some color and amps up the South-of-the-border vibe, and a pile of lightly-dressed arugula beneath the whole thing gives it a filling veggie boost. (If arugula isn’t your thing, spinach or kale also work nicely.) Top the whole thing with an extra drizzle of crema, some matchstick-cut radishes, and freshly ground pepper for a light and tasty meal-prep-friendly lunch or dinner.

 

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes {{Baking Bytes}}

For leftovers, I heated my sweet potato and tuna for a warming experience, but it’s delicious cold too. You can also easily satiate bigger eaters with bigger potatoes and/or by scaling up the tuna salad portions, and roasting all the potatoes ahead of time means the whole thing can come together right quick. Whether you choose to serve it for lunch or dinner, this tuna salad will be a delicious new twist on a classic.

Chipotle-Lime Tuna-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

2-4 large sweet potatoes (depending on how hungry you are)

3-4 cans Albacore tuna
1/4 – 1/2 cup chipotle-lime crema, to taste (below)
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 large radishes, cut into matchsticks
5oz arugula (or any leafy greens)

Chipotle-Lime Crema
1  cup plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or mayo (or combination thereof)
1 large Chipotle pepper in adobo
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 Tbsp adobo sauce
1 large clove garlic (optional)
1/2 tsp (Roasted Garlic) coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and bake for 40-60 minutes, or until fork tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all crema ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and add additional salt, adobo sauce, or lime juice as preferred.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, mash together tuna and 1/4 sauce until well incorporated. Taste and mix in additional sauce as desired. Set aside.
  5. Add olive oil to a small pan over medium heat.
  6. When the oil is simmering, sauté bell pepper and onion until onion is translucent.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, toss greens with 2-4 tablespoons crema until evenly coated. Divide between four plates.
  8. On each plate, add 1/4 of the peppers and onion, sweet potato, and tuna mixture.
  9. Serve garnished with additional crema, radishes, and freshly cracked pepper.

Notes

Words

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Like most lactose-tolerant Americans, cheese is a pretty large staple in my diet. The discovery of the Costco cheese selection entailing far more than my standard Tillamook cheddar has done nothing but enable this addition, but I’m not sad about it. Gouda, specifically smoked Gouda, is one of my favorites and I purchase it nearly as often as I do medium cheddar. The smokiness is perfect with burgers and sandwiches and as a snack, and it never takes us long to go through the pretty heft block.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

The Brussels mac & cheese from a few weeks ago combined three of my favorite things: Gouda, Brussels sprouts, and carbs. Although I decided not to do a grilled cheese series this year, I felt this combination would be perfect for celebrating National Grilled Cheese Day, which is this coming Friday.

Garlic Brussels sprouts and smokey Gouda are possibly my favorite combination to-date and the veggies adds a smidge of health to this delightful meal. Gooey Gouda and crispy bread are always a lovely textural juxtaposition and this sandwich is no exception. I opted to use a few of my favorite Olivelle products in my creation but if your kitchen is not stocked with 2/3 of their store the standard versions work just great.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

A little paprika adds a nice punch to the flavors without overpowering anything, but you can adjust up or down as preferred. With all the rich insides I kept my bread neutral and used my favorite seeded bread from a local bakery, On the Rise Bread Co. This robust wheat bread complemented everything nicely without being too complicated, and I’d recommend a similarly neutral whole wheat bread for this particular sandwich. For the meat-centric folks, some chopped bacon would go well, although I found it to be plenty delicious in its inherently vegetarian state.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

My loaf was fairly narrow so you may need to adjust the sprouts and cheese accordingly if your slices are larger. In my opinion extra sautéed Brussels sprouts are not a problem so just add an extra to your pan and you’ll have a small appetizer of the leftovers that don’t fit.

If you’re cooking for a crowd, you can roast the Brussels in the oven and then cook the sandwiches in a bigger pan or griddle to get more done at once. With just one sandwich I didn’t want to turn on the oven but for a family it’s probably worth it to streamline the process.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese

 

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day this Friday with a fancy sandwich and take a classic up a notch. Brussels or Gouda not your thing? Check out some of my other options like Beet & Feta or Huckle-bacon Brie!

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil, divided
3-4 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp minced red or yellow onion
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
pinch of (Hickory Smoked) sea salt, to taste

2 slices neutral wheat bread (I used On the Rise Seeded)
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda, to taste

Directions

  1. Add 2 tsp oil to medium pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the Brussels, garlic, onion, salt, and paprika.
  2. Sauté until Brussels are cooked through and lightly browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and heat remaining oil.
  4. Top one slice of bread with 1/3 of the cheese, sprouts, and another 1/3 of the cheese. Top the other bread slice with the remaining cheese.
  5. Transfer both slices open-face style to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook until bread is lightly browned.
  6. Flip the cheese bread atop top sprouts and cook an addition 30-60 seconds on each side to allow the filling to stick together.
  7. Serve immediately, optionally  topped with an additional sprinkle of paprika.