June 13, 2011

Recipe - Asian Salad with Mochi Croutons and Carrot Ginger Dressing

Well, hello there! How is everyone today? I am so excited to have so many new followers to The Odd Couple Eats! I want to kick things off this week by posting a recipe for a delicious summer salad. Now that temperatures are rising it can be SO tough to find the energy to cook dinner every night. Salads are the way to go because they don't heat up the kitchen and you have endless ingredient options so you won't get bored! While this isn't the most low-cal or low-fat salad, it is high in healthy fats and has TONS of Vitamin A. Sorry, but if I'm having a salad for dinner, it's gotta have some goodies in it!

This salad was inspired by one that I had at Spring Street Natural, one of my favorite restaurants in SoHo. I loved the idea of an Asian salad with pineapple and crunchy cashews, but wanted to add a bit of protein and something more healthy than fried won ton strips. I came up with this version that uses garbanzo beans and mochi croutons. What is mochi? Glad you asked! Mochi is kind of like a dough that is made from whole grain brown rice. It's wheat, gluten and dairy-free. You can either bake or pan-fry it and it's lots of fun because it puffs up when you cook it! You can add different things to it to make it either sweet or savory and you can also find flavored versions of it. I use the Grainaissance brand of plain mochi and either bake or fry small pieces of it to use in salads or soups. It's way more nutritious than bread croutons and is very versatile! I buy it at Whole Foods and it's just a few bucks per package. You can also find a coupon on the Grainaissance web site here.

You can add or omit ingredients to the salad as you see fit. I was really hoping to find some jicama to shred and add to the salad like the one at Spring Street Natural, but I couldn't find it anywhere! I added some water chestnuts instead, but if you can get your hands on jicama, go for it! Because the dressing is homemade, it is a bit high in (healthy) fat, but the trade off is that it has no preservatives and much less sodium than bottled dressing. If you're watching your fat intake, feel free to use a bottled low-fat or fat-free Asian dressing (just try to find a natural one) or take out the cashews and avocado... though to do so would thoroughly depress me. C'mon, live a little!

Johnny slept through dinner last night, but I will try to recreate this salad and have him give it a taste later in the week. He is a fan of mochi and pineapple, so my guess is that he'd be pretty into this salad. :-)

Asian Salad with Mochi Croutons and Carrot Ginger Dressing
Makes 3 big salads (the kind Elaine loves!)

Carrot Ginger Dressing
Adapted from this recipe from Goop

1 large or 2 small carrots, rinsed, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
2" of ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
1 tbsp shoyu or soy sauce
1/4 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
2 tbsp canola oil
A few tbsp of filtered water

Mochi Croutons
1/2 package plain mochi
2 tbsp olive oil
Shoyu or soy sauce

Half head of Romaine lettuce, rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces
Several sprigs of cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed
1/4 dry roasted cashews (unsalted)
2 carrots, shredded with a peeler

Make your dressing first. In a food processor or blender, combine the carrots, shallot, and ginger and process until finely chopped. Add the miso, vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce and hot sauce (optional) and blend again. While blending, drizzle in the canola oil and enough water to achieve the consistency you want. Transfer to a container and chill until ready to use.

To make the croutons, cut 1/2 package of mochi into small squares. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Once warm, add 1/2 of your mochi squares leaving enough room around each so that they don't touch. Cover the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the mochi (I do this using two spoons) and add 1 more tbsp of olive oil and a few drops of shoyu or soy sauce to the top of each square. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes more, being careful not to burn. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the second batch of mochi. (If you have a large covered pan, you can probably cook in one batch.)

To assemble the salad, divide the remaining salad ingredients between three bowls and toss with the Carrot Ginger dressing. Top with the mochi croutons and a sprinkle of Gomasio or sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Nutrition information per serving: Calories 663; Total Fat 40g; Saturated Fat 4.9g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 545mg; Carbohydrate 72.5g; Dietary Fiber 11.2g; Sugars 11.3g; Protein 11.2g; Vitamin A 467%; Vitamin C 85%; Calcium 7%; Iron 17%

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