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.
Kenchin jiru is a traditional Japanese soup with an origin in Buddhist temples where monks sustain themselves with vegetarian meals. My mom used to make it vegetarian, too. However, I like to add a tiny bit of meat or chicken to add that satisfying savoriness to the soup. Kenchin jiru is easy to make with almost any root vegetables you happen to have. It doesn’t require a long list of esoteric sauces or spices, either: You just need soy sauce and salt. That’s it! You’ll be amazed how much complexity the vegetables and a teensy bit of meat or chicken can give to this comforting soup. In this regard, it’s very similar to the pork miso soup with root vegetables and shiitake mushroom that I posted recently: It’s a super-simple recipe with BIG flavors.
Kenchin jiru with a bowl of rice (and maybe a side of quick-pickled cucumbers) could be a perfectly satisfying, if humble, DASH diet meal for someone who likes Japanese home cooking. (Me and Hubby!) Other times, we treat kenchin jiru like a simpler miso soup, accompanying a spread of main dish like a broiled fish, rice and a couple of veggie-leaning sides. You can even have this hearty soup with a hunk of baguette–which we did the other day. I have to admit, I was surprised by how well this odd combo worked!
Other common ingredients in kenchin jiru includes daikon, lotus root, shiitake or enoki mushrooms, spinach and fried tofu. I’d have used daikon if I had one on hand. Alas, I was out of daikon, so the trusty turnip stepped up and filled in the gap. If you want to make the soup vegetarian and more traditional, omit the beef. In that case, I’d stir-fry the ingredients in a bit of sesame oil before adding water. The sesame oil adds the extra kick that a vegetarian version probably needs.
Kenchin Jiru: Japanese Tofu, Root Vegetables & Maitake Mushroom Soup
DASH diet considerations: Kenchin jiru is a wonderful addition to your DASH diet soup repertoire. It’s full of vegetables, plant-derived protein from tofu and only a tiny bit of meat, maybe ¼ serving per person. It’s also oil-free. Some recipes call for stir-frying the ingredients before simmering them in the soup, but this step really isn’t necessary, thanks to the surprisingly robust broth from the little it of beef.
Place the water, along with carrot, turnip, taro, maitake and gobo, in a pot. Bring to a boil on high.
Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium so it keeps boiling gently. Cook for 15-20 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked through.
Add the beef strips to the soup.
Add the soy sauce to the soup. Stir, taste, and add salt as needed.
Divide the soup into serving bowls and garnish with the sliced scallion.
*Gobo is a (somewhat absurdly) long, thin, fibrous root that is chock full of toasty, earthy flavor with a slight bit of sweetness that develops when cooked. Also called burdock root, you can find gobo in Japanese, Chinese and Korean grocers.
**I buy thinly sliced meats from a Korean or Japanese grocer. They are sliced almost paper-thin and high quality (i.e., a small amount lends a huge amount of flavor). If you don't have access to this kind of meat, a small amount of ground beef or chicken might work instead.
Miso soup is a mainstay of Japanese home cooking. It’s one of my go-to comfort foods. In my DASH diet life, miso soup also serves as a handy dandy tool to balance out some of the more meat- and fat-heavy meals. I made this pork miso soup with root vegetables just for that purpose, and it was so comforting and delicious!
Even better yet, it’s super easy. You may have heard that you need to make a “dashi” broth for your miso soup, or add some dashi powder (which is the easy route I take). Not in this pork miso soup with root vegetables. Thanks to the meaty flavor of the pork and the complex, deeply earthy flavors of the combination of root vegetables and shiitake mushrooms, broth is totally unnecessary. All it takes to build the full flavor of the soup is to simmer the ingredients and dissolve the miso at the end. That’s it! The soup basically makes itself, if that makes sense.
This stew-like miso soup gets better overnight in the fridge. Definitely make more than you’d have in one meal. You might want to add fresh scallions after reheating the leftover soup. They add a nice bright pop to the otherwise earthy, savory soup.
Pork Miso Soup with Root Vegetables & Shiitake Mushroom
DASH diet considerations: This pork miso soup with root vegetables is a DASH diet winner: It uses very little pork and no fat, yet somehow turns into a robust, deeply satisfying soup that feels like a complete meal with just a plain bowl of rice. Aside from the ones I used, you can use any root vegetables you have on hand, like potatoes, rutabaga, turnips or taro.
Miso does contain a fair amount of sodium, so you don’t want to go overboard. However, the rest of the ingredients provide such a medley of flavors that you really don’t need a ton of miso to make it tasty. Start with 1 tablespoon of miso and add more little by little, if you find it lacking.
DASH diet servings:
3 veggies & fruits
¼ meats & fish
¼ nuts & beans
200-400 mg sodium (depending on the brand and amount of miso you use)
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil on high heat. Add the yam, gobo (burdock root), daikon, carrot and shiitake. Bring it back to a boil on medium high. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.
When the vegetables are done (the thickest pieces should be pierced easily), add the pork belly. Cook until the pork belly is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Dissolve the miso into the liquid. To make sure the miso is completely dissolved, take some of the liquid into a ladle and dissolve the miso in the ladle, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Give it a good stir, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes so the flavors come together.
Add the ginger and ladle the miso soup into serving bowls. Serve with chopped scallion on top.
Hubby, who didn’t grow up eating this stuff, also loves miso soup. I like to think that miso soup has universal appeal. Then again, he’s been eating my miso soup for over a decade now–and he’s only one data point (albeit the most important one for me!). So I’m curious: For those of you who didn’t have a Japanese upbringing, do you find miso soup delicious and comforting? Could it be a part of your regular diet, if not already?
How’s your new year’s healthy eating resolution going–if you made one? Mid-January might be when a lot of people start feeling the January doldrums, whether they have a resolution or not. (I’m in the latter camp, but totally feeling the doldrums!) This salad might be just the booster you need if you are in a DASH diet rut.
I made this salad for lunch the day after we had a pretty indulgent dinner of Korean fried chicken and kimchi fried rice, which followed a fun weekend of lots of good (but not-so-DASH-compliant) food with my SIL. My DASH diet radar graph pretty clearly showed that I needed a meal that’s high on veggies and low on meats, fat and sugar to balance out the feasts, but I also wanted something that’d satisfy me and keep me going till I got back home to cook dinner. Otherwise I’d end up being either hangry or snacky–or both, lol.
This crunchy salad of cabbage, cucumber and other flavor-packed vegetables was just the thing I needed. The salad gets a “Thai” boost from a creamy peanut dressing spiked with ginger, garlic and lime juice. Smoked tofu adds a layer of savoriness and the much-needed protein without adding to the meat servings. Crushed peanuts are fun, and the fiber and fat in the peanuts helped me stay full.
Crunchy Thai cabbage salad with smoked tofu and peanut dressing
DASH considerations: Crunchy vegetables and savory smoked tofu make this salad quite satisfying, despite the lack of meat, chicken or egg. The peanut dressing, similar to the peanut sauce served with Thai-style chicken satay, is creamy and aromatic, tying all the salad ingredients together. Go easy on the dressing, and this salad is a good “reset” lunch after meat- and/or fat-heavy dinner.
Mix all the dressing ingredients except for the water in a small bowl.
Add and mix in water thoroughly, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dressing is at a desired consistency. (You want the dressing to be pourable enough to coat the salad easily.)
Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl large enough to toss the salad.
Spoon about 1/3 of the peanut dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add more dressing gradually if needed.
I brought the salad to work for lunch. To prevent the vegetables from getting soggy if you aren’t eating it right away, it’s a good idea to keep the dressing in a separate container and toss the salad just before eating.
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.
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.