I’m on a kick to try and bring more ‘garden’ to our table. Given that doesn’t always (or usually ever) mean our own garden, and I don’t want it to mean more salad. I would like to have self serve side dish options with our meals that include unique fruits and vegetables as well as classic favorites but served in new fresh, seasoned, or in this case, lightly pickled ways. Long story short I’m tired of the same old steamed blends, carrots and broccoli with ranch, and stir-fried options. I don’t want limp, soggy, over-cooked, over-sauced vegetables anymore!
And I’m not going to lie that my inspiration has definitely been motivated by what I am seeing and reading in ‘bowl’ and on ‘Chef’s Table’ recently, but what’s wrong with that? In fact I am finding much success in even the simplest of additions.
This change isn’t just about me. It’s also about introducing our son the wide world of culinary options both for the health benefit, but also the pure pleasure of taste and creative thinking.
Now I happen to be a person who loves vegetables. I don’t know if it has to do with growing up in the ‘semi-bush’ but I used to eat tomatoes and green peppers like apples that were going out of style. I also happen to be one who leans way more to the savory side of tastes than the sweet side, so obviously pickled vegetables are right up my ally.
The secondary good to introducing more vegetable options, particularly pickled, to our family’s table if for Nathan’s nutritional and dietary needs. Because Nathan has Cystic Fibrosis he can’t digest any fats or proteins on his own. With modern medicine that is now an easy fix needing only to toss back a few pills with each meal. Those enzyme capsules, however, are regimented for each day and also according to his current weight. You don’t just get to take more and eat more of whatever and whenever you like. You need to keep to some sort of pattern or at least do some mathematical accounting each day to keep up.
An easy way around that? Eat snacks that are what we call ‘free-bees.’ They don’t contain any fat or protein and therefore don’t need any ‘Zs’ to go with them. (We started calling them Zs, for Zen Pep, when Nathan was just a toddler. He’s been able to swallow whole capsules since he was 2 1/2.) Some obvious ‘free-bees’ are sugar candies, gummies, popsicles, cool-aid, soda… yeah, see the pattern? JUNK. Junk is easy to throw in there. (Of course that’s easy for all of us.) Although most vegetables do contain a small percentage of protein, when proper continuous use of enzymes is happening most fruits and vegetables can be thrown into the day as snacks without having to worry about the need for extra Zs.
The best part? Nathan sweats off 4 times more salt than the average person. Okay, that’s not really a great thing, but it does lead to the need for increased sodium intake; salty foods…. like? PICKLES! Right! Now you’re tracking with me.
Okay, so I love vegetables and salty foods and salty vegetables make great free-bee snacks for Nathan… BINGO I’ve found a way to introduce new types of garden fresh snacks, keep up his salt intake (though not hard otherwise), and grow an appreciation for the finer culinary arts. Yes, I am including my own cooking as ‘a finer culinary art.’ *wink*
Now, that being said this recipe does call for some sesame oil which, though still very light, is a fat and thus not a free-bee. I simply served this one with dinner, over butternut squash match sticks and home grown sprouts, both of which he absolutely loved, and some thin daikon radish slices for me. I’m telling you, this simple recipe is to die for.
As a note: I’m not a huge fan of sesame so I tried to use just enough to bring in some flavor. If I was going to serve this as a free-bee snack (also a code word for fat-free *wink*) I would simply leave the sesame out of it, but if someone were to really enjoy sesame there is certainly room to add more. The amount of ginger can easily be adjusted one way or the other as well. I tried to keep it mild for this recipe.
You can easily use this as a dressing over shredded cabbage with peas and crunchy roman noodle, or a tossed green salad with tangerine slices and toasted sesame seeds.
This is GREAT for rice noodles.
Vegetable suggestions: match-sticked carrots, squash, broccoli, celery, or mustard and chard stems; thin sliced radishes, jicama, or daikon radish; shredded bok choy or red and green cabbage; bell peppers, bean sprouts, green beans, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, water chestnuts, root vegetables, asparagus, or mushrooms… the options are endless.
Try fruits like apples, tangerines, strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, mangoes, pineapple, pears, or melons…? lemons?
This is also perfect for salmon.
Light Sesame Ginger Pickling Vinaigrette
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 2 T water
- 1/2 T sugar
- 1/8 t sesame oil
- 1/8-1/4 t fresh grated ginger
- 1/8 t lemongrass – thinly sliced and crushed
- a dash of salt
Large batch for a bottle in the fridge:
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 t sesame oil
- 1-2 t fresh grated ginger
- 1 t lemongrass – thinly sliced and crushed
- 1/4 t salt
- Grate the ginger. Slice thin rings from the end of the lemongrass stalk, turn your chef’s knife on it’s side and crush to bring out the aromatics.
- Add all ingredients to a small skillet or sauce pan and bring just to a boil.
- Add thick-cut or crunchier vegetables (such as carrots) to the pan for just a moment or two. For softer and matchstick cut vegetables do not add to the pan.
- -For immediate use: pour the desired amount of dressing over the vegetables and either serve as is or drain.
-If you wish to save the dressing in your fridge: let cool and transfer to a closed container, jar, or bottle.
- When using later: either pour, cold, directly on your vegetables of choice
or heat and lightly toss the vegetables in dressing before serving.