Apple Celery Salad

This is a little something I came up with a few months ago when the only fresh produce I had were apples and celery. The two are a great combination, and with sunflower seeds and a quick cider vinaigrette, this has become one of my favorite sides. The apples make it a good complement to pork, but it's so crisp and refreshing, it's a good addition to any barbecue or picnic.

With Mark Bittman talking about his favorite simple salads, I figured it was time to share my new one.

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Tamarind Cole Slaw

As part of my continued “culinary homeschooling,” as I like to think of it, I have been trying to understand how acids work in cooking. I wrote a bit about citrus, vinegar and wine before, but since then I have learned a lot and begun experimenting much more.

Part of that included learning more about tamarind, the sour fruit often used in Indian cooking. Michael and I used it in a coconut shrimp curry we cooked for the University Iron Chef competition. Tamarind is very sour, and when combined with the right amount of sugar and savory ingredients, offers such a unique acidity to dishes.

One night I tried using it in lieu of vinegar or citrus to make a dressing for cole slaw. We were having an Indian-inspired meal, so I combined it with cumin and cilantro, which I knew were used in many other Indian dishes. The last few times I’ve made the dressing, I’ve added lime or white wine vinegar as well, but I think the first time was all tamarind pulp. For whatever reason, there were also sesame seeds in the cole slaw the first time I made it (as you might notice in the first picture.) Now I just leave the cumin seeds whole for texture and flavor.

I make variations of slaw a lot more often than I make leafy salads these days. Cabbage is so much cheaper and lasts a lot longer than lettuce, so for a recent college grad without a car to get to the store often, cole slaw is often my side dish of choice. When I can’t be bothered doing anything else, I toss shredded cabbage with bottled poppy seed dressing. It has just the right amount of sweetness and I prefer it to mayonnaise.

If you have a few minutes more, try the tamarind vinaigrette. It’s nice on other things too. I’ve put a similar vinaigrette on thinly sliced jicama after seeing it here.

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Ahi Tuna Tostada Salad

This is why my friends and I don’t go out to eat often.

It’s because we make dinners like this. And we can make four of them for the price a restaurant might charge for one.

Of course, if my kitchen were a restaurant, last night’s special might have read as so:


Ahi Tuna Tostada Salad

Spice encrusted ahi tuna seared and served with mango-jicama slaw on a crisp corn tortilla and a bed of romaine tossed in cilantro-lime vinaigrette

I don’t have much else to say about this, but I think you’ll like the warm, earthy spices on the rare fish. The jicama slaw is a balance of sweet and sour, soft and crisp, and the leftovers make a good side dish the next day. The whole thing is filling, but you can easily feel good about it afterward.

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Jicama, Broccoli and Orange Slaw

You might not think the taste of an apple crossed with a raw potato sounds very appetizing unless you’ve tried jicama and realized that’s actually a good thing.

And if that description doesn’t have you running out to buy jicama now…

But seriously, when summer hits, and you’ve banished the thought of rutabaga and turnips, jicama jumps in and offers its crisp, refreshing bite. I turned Kat on to jicama a few weeks ago with this slaw, and she later made her mom fall in love with the veggie by pairing it with grapefruit. It’s just so light and fresh, it’s perfect for summer.

You can shred the jicama with a grater or mandoline, but I loved the knife practice of slicing the whole thing by hand. Ditto for the broccoli. You can easily buy precut broccoli slaw at the grocery store, but besides being cheaper, there was something satisfying about making all those green matchstick slivers.


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