Oh boy, this leftover salad was delicious! With so many flavors going on, it’s a feast of a salad. Let’s see: A savory sautéed chicken breast. A sweet and aromatic roasted rutabaga and carrots with currants, maple syrup and ras el hanout (a mild, fragrant North African curry powder). A reliable bed of lettuce, baby kale, grape tomatoes and scallion. Then everything gets a coat of bright, earthy, garlicky lime garlic tahini dressing. The combination was 100% spot-on and satisfying.
I made the salad using the curry-spiced rutabaga and carrots that I already had roasted, but you can of course start from roasting the root vegetables. Recipe for roasting is right here. You can save time by using pre-sauteed (or even better, pre-grilled) chicken breast as well. Then it’ll be a matter of assembling everything–perfect for a weeknight DASH diet dinner.
DASH diet considerations: This curry roasted root vegetable salad with lime garlic tahini dressing is an all-A student of the DASH diet realm. It packs about 4 servings of different vegetables (full of fiber and potassium); tahini helps it go light on oil while providing an incredibly earthy depth to the dressing; and simply cooked chicken breast provides lean protein.
The wide range of flavors, from bright, earthy tahini dressing to sweetly aromatic curry roasted vegetables, as well as the different textures really jazzes up the salad without a lot of sodium or oil. Give it a try! We skipped grains, but a pita would go perfectly with this Middle Eastern-inspired salad.
DASH diet servings:
4 vegetables & fruits
2 meats & fish
½ fat & oil
¼ nuts & beans
In a saute pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil on medium high and add the chicken breast. Saute until the chicken is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes, flipping once to brown both sides. Set aside in a wam place.
While the chicken breast cooks, make the dressing. Mix the tahini, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice and grated garlic in a bowl large enough to toss the lettuce and kale comfortably. Add water, 1 tsp at a time, to thin the dressing to a pourable consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
To the bowl of the dressing, add the lettuce, baby kale, grape tomatoes and scallion. Toss to coat evenly.
Slice the chicken breast into strips.
Place the lettuce-kale mixture in two plates or bowls. Top with the roasted rutabaga and carrots, as well as the chicken breast strips.
Sprinkle some za’atar on top, if you like, before serving.
This sheet pan za’atar salmon dinner was what made me–belatedly–realize why sheet pan dinners are everywhere these days. It’s an amazingly easy way to make a delicious dinner: Once you set everything up in a sheet pan, it’s largely hands-free. Even the setup doesn’t take all that much effort. Chop, season, arrange, and you’re more or less ready to go. Woot! (To keep the salmon juices from seeping into the veggies, I did use a piece of aluminum foil to keep them separate. Oh, so much work! :P) Since sheet pan dinners can be made pretty low fat, I think they are a great technique for DASH diet followers.
For this sheet pan za’atar salmon dinner, I’m using two spice mixes to push the flavors in the Middle Eastern and North African direction: Za’atar and ras el hanout. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix with a complex, savory, green and slightly floral flavor profile. What’s in it can vary depending on who made the mix, but mine has thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds. I used za’atar for the salmon.
Ras el hanout, on the other hand, is from North Africa. It’s a pretty versatile “curry” powder, though it usually seems to be not spicy. I tend to detect cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, clove, ginger and other warm, sweetly aromatic spices in this mix; to me, it smells somewhere between an apple pie and a curry. Which is probably why it goes well with roasted vegetables, as in this recipe. To add another dimension or two, I added maple syrup and dried currants for a touch of sweetness and tang to the earthy root vegetables.
Adding a dollop of garlic-spiked Greek yogurt or a cucumber-studded tzaziki sauce on the side might add a refreshing coolness to the otherwise all-warm dish. (I should have thought of that when I made this sheet pan dinner!)
Also! These sweet, aromatic, curry-roasted carrots and rutabaga made a great salad topping a couple of days later. I made a quick garlic lime tahini dressing for that salad, and it was a darn good salad with a lot of contrasting flavors. I’ll post the recipe for the salad in a day or two.
Sheet Pan Za'atar Salmon Dinner with Curried Carrots, Rutabaga & Dried Currants
DASH Diet considerations: Roasting is one of the low-fat ways of cooking meats and vegetables, and that holds true for the sheet pan za’atar salmon dinner. It’s a good balance between 2 servings of fish and 2-3 servings of fiber-rich root vegetables. You can serve the za’atar salmon and curried root veggies with a whole wheat pita, with dill rice or by itself, if you are already above or close to the DASH diet grain goal.
It’s winter, and winter calls for a chowder. Which is awesome, because I love chowder. With miso soup, chowder is tied at the absolute top of my favorite soup list.
Sunday evening, after spending a few hours wandering around on a windswept beach with beautiful golden grass and elegant sand dunes, I needed something warm and hearty but not too heavy. The temperature was in the upper 40s at the beach, but fog was rolling in. The dampness cut through, and I needed to warm up. Chowder to the rescue! I had Ecuadorian chorizo and a couple of poblano chiles on hand, so I decided to make a vaguely Latin American chowder using those. Instead of regular potatoes, I used sweet potatoes. It was a choice based entirely on convenience, but added an interesting bit of sweetness to the hearty, otherwise savory chowder.
I roasted the poblano chiles in the toaster oven. This extra step does add a smoky, roasty flavor to the chowder, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Unless you can roast the poblano chiles on a charcoal grill, that is–if you have access to that luxury (an envy of all NYC apartment dwellers, let me tell you :P), definitely roast the chiles. They’ll take on the flame-grilled awesomeness and add another dimension to the chowder.
Poblano chiles can be a Russian roulette. I roasted three chiles, and tasted each before adding them to the pot. One was super-duper spicy, way too hot to put the entire thing in the chowder. The other two were completely mild. I set the spicy one aside for another use and used the two milder ones in the chowder. You might want to taste yours and decide how much to put in, depending on how spicy you like your chowder to be.
Sweet Potato, Chorizo, Roasted Poblano & Kale Chowder
DASH diet considerations: The sweet potato, chorizo, roasted poblano and kale chowder is a hearty winter soup with zesty Latin American flavors. A tiny bit of chorizo per serving (about one DASH diet serving of meat) is enough to give the soup a savory, faintly spicy backbone. Both sweet potatoes and kale are a good source of potassium; overall, it’s a veggie-filled soup of 3 vegetable servings.
As is the case with many soups, it can be on the high side for sodium. I used Better Than Bouillon for chicken stock, and with that option, this chowder has about 460 mg of sodium (from the soup base, salt and chorizo). For a complete DASH diet meal, pair it with a crusty whole wheat bread.
3 vegetables & fruits
1 meats & fish
¼ fat & oil
460 mg sodium
While the peppers roast, heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until the onions are slightly translucent and soft.
Add the chorizo and break it up into small chunks with a spoon or a spatula. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chorizo pieces start to brown, for about 3 minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes and cook briefly, stirring to coat everything in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken stock to the pot. Cover and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
Remove the poblano chiles from the oven. Once cool enough to handle, remove the stem and seeds, then dice. Set aside. (You might want to check the spiciness level of the chiles here and adjust how much of the diced poblano chiles you add to the soup.)
When the sweet potatoes can be pierced easily through, add the kale and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the kale is wilted.
Add the milk, sour cream and roasted poblano chilies. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until everything is heated and the flavors are melded together.
Just before Gothamist was shut down (boo!), I saw a post about a lunch spot in Downtown Brooklyn that serves something that had me drooling instantly: Grain bowls made with (very green) scallion rice. The author practically gushed over the scallion rice. I wanted to try it. Being me, I decided to try making it myself, without ever tasting the original. 😛
The original scallion rice was actually a scallion fried rice. However, I decided to make a non-fried version to cut down on the fat content. I was fairly certain that the fragrances of the scallion, ginger and a small dash of sesame oil would be enough to elevate a plain bowl of jasmine rice to a next level–and I was right!
I wanted a quick but well-balanced, DASH-compatible dinner with a couple of different flavors going on, so I went with a grain bowl format. Aside from the teriyaki chicken and roasted pumpkin, this easy bowl gets a bright vinegar boost from a quick and crunchy cucumber pickle, and toasty goodness from a (also quick) carrot salad with sesame seeds. Don’t be scared by the long-looking ingredient list. As long as you have roasted pumpkin ready to go, this teriyaki chicken bowl with scallion rice comes together in about 20 minutes. I say it’s a pretty good DASH diet dinner for weeknights!
Teriyaki Chicken Bowl with Scallion Rice & Roasted Pumpkin
DASH diet considerations: The teriyaki chicken bowl with scallion rice and roasted pumpkin is a quick one-bowl meal that's well balanced on both flavor and nutrition departments. Just a small drizzle of sesame oil in the scallion rice gives it a nice nutty fragrance without weighing it down. Teriyaki chicken is sweet and savory; the two salads bring brightness and crunch, and roasted pumpkin adds a starchy texture and natural sweetness.
Mix the soy sauce, honey, sake and garlic in a small bowl. Add the chicken thighs and let sit to marinate.
Cook the jasmine rice in a small pot.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cook, flipping occasionally to get a nice browning going. When the chicken is cooked through, pour the marinade into the skillet. Cook it down until it thickens and coats the chicken nicely. Transfer to a plate and keep in a warm place.
While the chicken cooks, sprinkle the cucumber and carrot with a small pinch of salt in separate bowls. Toss to combine and let sit for a few minutes. This will draw out the moisture from the veggies, preventing them from getting soggy later.
Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the cucumber and carrot.
Add the sushi vinegar to the cucumber and toss to combine.
Add the sesame oil and sesame seeds to the carrot. Toss to combine.
When the rice is cooked, fluff, and mix in the ginger, scallion, sesame oil and a small pinch of salt.
Divide the scallion rice between two serving bowls. Arrange the teriyaki chicken, roasted pumpkin and two salads on top.
We sprinkled some shichimi, a Japanese spice mix, over top. The citrusy, fragrant spice mix adds another dimension to the teriyaki chicken bowl, but it’s not a necessity. Sambal oelek, sriracha or other spicy sauce might be a fun addition on the side, too.
I needed a quick but satisfying dinner one night. I had chicken breast I needed to use, and some Chinese broccoli, but not much else. Using some pantry staples, I threw together a surprisingly tasty, sophisticated-tasting sauce of lemon, capers and vermouth, for a simply sautéed chicken breasts. I paired them with roasted potatoes and a quick garlicky stir-fry of Chinese broccoli; regular broccoli or broccoli rabe would work just fine.
I like having a cooking liquor or two on hand, exactly for times like this. (And I make sure I do!) Dry vermouth, a fortified wine with aromatics, is a good choice; so is cream sherry or amontillado. They are a little sweeter (even when it’s called “dry”) and more complex than wine, and instantly adds a magically satisfying body to simple dishes. Since a little goes a long way, they aren’t necessarily expensive. The best part is that unlike wine, they don’t go bad, so I have no pressure to “use up” an open bottle.
Sautéed Chicken Breast with Lemon Caper Vermouth Sauce
DASH considerations: A simple sauteed chicken breast gets a tangy and subtly sweet upgrade from lemon juice and a dash of vermouth, while the occasional briny pop of the capers adds another dimension to this easy but surprisingly sophisticated-tasting dish. Pairing it with sauteed broccoli pushes up the meal’s fat content, so a salad might be a better idea for people following DASH diet closely.
I picked up a bag of frozen salmon burgers form Costco a while ago. They are a decent alternative to a freshly made salmon burgers, though a little weirdly spongy-chewy. The nice thing about them for DASH diet followers is that the sodium content is relatively under control at about 10% of the daily limit. I used those frozen salmon burgers to put together this quick DASH dinner.
In this recipe, frozen salmon burgers are topped with crunchy, vibrant Asian coleslaw and served on a whole wheat roll. The slaw is scented with just a bit of sesame oil and works like a sauce on the burger. This means you don’t need mayo and other fat- and sodium-heavy sauces to make the salmon burger interesting. On the side, I added “green French fries,” a.k.a. green beans. Freshly grated ginger to the green beans goes well with the vaguely Asian theme, and spices things up without a lot of salt–another DASH diet win.
Salmon Burger with Asian Coleslaw & Ginger Butter Green Beans
DASH considerations: This salmon burger meal is the straight A student of DASH diet. The salmon burger on a whole wheat bun provides lean protein and whole grains, while the abundant Asian slaw, lightly dressed with sesame oil and sushi vinegar, adds a crunchy, vibrant supply of vegetables. Ginger-spiked green beans with just a little bit of butter seals the deal with one solid serving of vegetables without adding a ton of sodium or butter. Skip buttering the rolls to reduce the amount of fat in the meal. (It doesn’t really need the butter or mayo.)
4 vegetables & fruits
2-3 meats & fish (depending on the size of the patties)
2 fat & oil
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the salmon burger patties, according to the package instructions. Mine took 3-4 minutes per side, cooking from frozen.
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add a small pinch of salt once boiling.
While the salmon burgers cook, sprinkle the shredded cabbage with a pinch of salt and toss to mix in a bowl. Knead the cabbage with your hand to help the salt penetrate the cells. Let sit for a few minutes.
Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch briefly. Drain thoroughly once the green beans turn bright green.
In the same saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat and add the green beans back in. Add the grated ginger. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Turn the heat off so the green beans don’t overcook.
Squeeze as much water as you can from the shredded cabbage. Drizzle the sesame oil and sushi vinegar. Add the scallions and toss to combine.
Cut the kaiser rolls in half horizontally and toast the pieces lightly.
On the bottom pieces of the rolls, arrange the sliced cucumber.
Once the salmon patties are cooked through, top the rolls with the salmon patties.
Pile as much of the cabbage slaw on top of the salmon patties. You’ll be surprised how much you can put on!
Place the top pieces of the rolls on top of the slaw. Serve with the green beans on the side.
I had a couple of Chinese eggplants that needed to be eaten. If cooked in oil, eggplants soak up it (that’s partially why they are so tasty). So, stir-frying them or roasting them with a drizzle of oil would likely eat up more than half of the daily oil limit of DASH diet. I wasn’t sure what to do with them. That is, until I remembered the grilled eggplant salad we like to get at Thai restaurants. That sounded like the perfect low-fat solution to my eggplant conundrum.
I decided to roast the eggplants whole in the oven without the oil, and use the Japanese technique of quick-poaching über-thinly sliced meats to further reduce the fat content. This technique, called shabu shabu, somehow retains the meaty umami but drains away a lot of the fat in just a few quick seconds. It’s a perfect technique for DASH eaters! I threw in a bunch of Thai herbs for good measure, and the result was a bright, refreshing and satisfying salad with creamy, earthy eggplant chunks and umami-packed beef slices.
Thai Eggplant & Shabu Shabu Beef Salad
DASH benefits: This bright and savory Thai eggplant and beef salad uses oil-free roasting and quick-poaching techniques to drastically reduce the amount of oil. Lots of different textures and flavors keep every bite interesting: The creamy eggplant, crunchy cabbage, savory beef, refreshing lime, slightly kicky chili and bright herbs. Since the sodium content is on the high side, I’d pair it with plain jasmine rice for a light but satisfying dinner.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. (I used my small toaster oven.)
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
Poke a few holes in the eggplants to prevent them from bursting in the oven.
Roast the eggplants on a pan for 20 minutes. Check for doneness. They should feel limp and a knife inserted in the middle should feel no resistance.
While the eggplants roast, place the cilantro, basil, red onion, scallion and jalapeño in a large bowl.
Mix the fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl to make the dressing.
Poach the beef slices in the boiling pot of water for 10-15 seconds each, until just cooked through.
Add the beef to the bowl of vegetables.
When the eggplants are cooked through, cut them into bite-sized rounds or half moons. Add them to the bowl of vegetables and beef.
Pour the dressing over the eggplant mixture, add a few generous grinds of white pepper, and toss to combine. (You’ll likely have some leftover dressing.)
Place the shredded cabbage in salad bowls. Place the eggplant mixture on top. Top with fried shallots, if using.
*I buy my meats from Korean and Japanese stores when I need them sliced super-thin. (I'm talking as thin as delicate deli meats, if not thinner.) I've tried asking neighborhood American butchers for custom thin slices, but they tend to be still too thick for shabu shabu poaching method. If you don't have easy access to Korean or Japanese store, your best bet is to use ground beef, pork or chicken instead. Poached shrimp works, too (and that's actually pretty authentic, according to a Thai cookbook I have!).
Leftovers: Actually the Best Part!
The eggplant mixture actually improves overnight. Like, way better. I had the eggplant salad minus the cabbage (plus a couple of cocktail tomatoes) for lunch the day after, and the extra marinating time really did it wonders, especially the eggplant that soaked up all the flavors of the dressing and the herbs. I highly recommend making this salad (up to step 10) the night before, if you can pull if off.
Grill ’em, If You Can
The salad would be even better if you can roast the eggplants on a charcoal grill. This is how it’s done in Thailand and some Thai restaurants in the US. Smoky char really adds to the overall complexity of the salad. Sadly this isn’t an option for me, given the lack of outdoor space in my NYC apartment. I should try adding some smoke powder next time.
This is a 10-minute vegetable side dish that goes well with a lot of Asian mains. Since both the broccoli and corn are already cooked, it only takes a few minutes to heat and season them with the spicy, savory sauce mix. The key to this dish–or many other stir-fry dishes–is to have everything ready to go before you start the cooking process. That includes pre-mixing the sauce.
You can easily add chicken breast pieces or firm/fried tofu to this Thai street food-style dish. Serve it with rice, and you’ll have a complete meal in 10-15 minutes!
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake. This is a flourless version that I sometimes make for breakfast. It’s basically cabbage-laden scrambled eggs, but with strategic use of mix-ins and toppings, you can make it taste a lot like okonomiyaki without the weight of the flour and oil. Okonomiyaki eggs would be a good, quick but reasonably healthy dinner option for those of you who are “breakfast for dinner” types. Try it!
Additional toppings include bonito flakes, nori flakes and mayonnaise. You can also mix in chopped scallions, cheese, dried shrimps and/or kimchi for more variation. Did I say this is versatile?
Okonomiyaki Eggs (Fauxkonomiyaki)
DASH benefits: Okonomiyaki eggs (fauxkonomiyaki) add a full serving of vegetable to breakfast, along with a lean protein from eggs. It does have bacon, but one strip is more than enough to give the okonomiyaki eggs for two a serious savory punch. Go easy on the okonomiyaki sauce, which is pretty sweet.
Dashi powder is optional, but its savory, slightly oceanic umami really does make the overall flavor profile of the fauxkonomiyaki. It keeps forever in the pantry, and is a great soup base for miso soup, so investing in a small package might not be a terrible idea. This is a classic brand. In this recipe, you can substitute it with a pinch of salt if you don’t have it on hand.
There’s a lot of flavors going on in the roasted pumpkin and chorizo black bean quinoa bowl: Hearty black beans, caramelized sweetness of the roasted pumpkin, a bit of heat and Tex Mex zing from jalapeño and chili powder, the bright acidity from tomatoes and lime juice that lightens up the whole thing. On top of all that, just a small amount of Mexican smoked chorizo lends an amazing depth and savoriness to this almost-all-veggie bowl. It’s a complete meal in one bowl, but thanks to all these flavors and a variety of textures, you won’t get bored till the very last bite!
In our home, the recipe below yielded 2 dinner servings, plus about ⅓ cup of black bean-quinoa mixture left over. I’m thinking that it’d be awesome in a quesadilla format… I can even toss in the remaining roasted pumpkin I still have in the fridge. (It was a big pumpkin.)
Roasted Pumpkin & Chorizo Black Bean Quinoa Bowl
DASH benefits: This pumpkin and black bean quinoa bowl has a lot going for it from the DASH perspective: A ton of vegetables, sweetness without the added sugar (roasted pumpkin, I love you!), amazing meaty flavor from a tiny bit of chorizo. Aromatic chili powder and tart lime juice also reduce the need for extra sodium to create a satisfying flavor profile. This quick and economical bowl is also packed with a good amount of lean protein: Both black beans and quinoa are high on the list of great plant sources of protein.
Place the quinoa with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil on high. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 13-14 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
While the quinoa cooks, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion, jalapeño and chorizo. Sauté on medium heat until the onion is slightly browned.
Drain the can of black beans and add 1 cup of the beans to the skillet. Sauté for a few minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the liquid is mostly gone. Season with chili powder. Taste, and add salt and pepper of needed.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, tomato, scallion and cilantro. Drizzle with the juice of one lime half and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
To the skillet of black beans, add the cooked quinoa and stir to combine. Taste, and add salt and pepper of needed.
Line two salad bowls with torn lettuce leaves. Add the black bean-quinoa mixture. Top with the pumpkin-tomato mixture. Cut the remaining lime half into two and place on the side of the bowls.
*Any pumpkin or winter squash would work here. Sweet potato and yam would be lovely as well.