Friday, March 14, 2014

Daring Cooks Challenge, March 2014~ Dressing It Up!

For March's Daring Cooks' Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.

Can you see where we're going with this? Looking back to that long sabbatical, you know the one that took me in and out of blogger pages on a crazy irregular basis? Well, it also led to less frequent visits to my favorite contest, the one that takes place on a very International, most daring kitchen, that which throws out monthly themes for its members, to fetch, post and release on set dates. There I was the first week in March, seriously, I come to make salads? Why not? Don't want to be the Resistor of all things clean and pure, right?

For the most part, I admit there's not much in terms of BFMK's healthrimmed shelves, if even there are any (?). These archives thrive more on odes to lovely glutenplugged themes and shameless carnivorous delights perhaps too those endless many sugar rackets. Nothing wrong there. And here's where I owe much to cognitive dissonance. There must be balance, mind says, weighing even in our recipe archives. And so I obey.

I couldn't place why I was so exhilarated? Good to be back for sure, but really  the last discourse of reputable elements and their contribution to the greater good, led me in thinking, shall I just...let it roll. All that's fresh and upright burst forth on regular rotation, through the seams of these very pages. Because we all know lone blueprints, those that are peerless and superior, can never be enough. 

Back to the matter at hand, was I excited? Yes. Did I have a plan? Just that I wanted to authenticate my existence especially after the several no-shows in the good kitchen.
Snippets of thought and points to note flashed through. All salads are not created equal and a good one is hard to come by; bigger still; subject will and should not be limited to too many shades of green, end part being my onceuponatime thinking. With those salient points kept forward and flush to mind's eye, I began construction.

There it was, number one inspiration taken from the pages of this month's Good Housekeeping, an appetizing tuna salad cleverly making an avocado its mixing bowl. My first rendition of this tastier than most combination was the first few days of the past week, when I did nextday repeats due to the addictive,  fantastic melding of fish and gardenfresh, peppery bites of radish bearing high notes, in an overall just fly salad personality. 

Next up is the medley of elements working its way into a neutral couscous, a hinging of great bite and beauteous color, interfered only with a righton vinaigrette, that which harps on the perfect blend of barelysweet, softlytart notes.

Finally, I had to furnish in that salute to my home region, something best known to the Kerala plate as beetroot pachadi. A  luscious yogurt bowl embracing sweet, scarletcolored beets, finally to  meet with a few curry making others to be fried, then merged as one. Often, it plays second role as side to main meal of rice. Although my experience says, a bowl of just this, with an accompanying spoon need not much else and can be taken on pleasurably, in one sitting.

This was the month I discovered I could tackle on and finish strong as I kicked myself back into a fun, adventurous challenge. This fervency I wish I possessed on a greater, more frequent scale.

I won't waste your time any longer. The composition is all yours. Read on, take notes. Maybe save and print. I guarantee there'll be no regrets.

  Radishes,veggies, summoned in for their higher calling.
 Great ingredients demand a great lunch, maybe three. Since it was all in a day and right before noon (yes,  productivity claimed my being!), we were set with three delicious midday meals.

Tuna Avocado Salad~
(Adapted from Good Housekeeping)
  • 1 12 oz. can chunk light tuna, drained
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 avocados, cut into halves
  • Mix together all ingredients from tuna to pepper.
  • Divide and scoop into avocado halves.
  • Spoon ginger soy dressing over the halves or initially combine with the tuna mixture.

Ginger, Soy Dressing~
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sriracha or any Asian hot chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • In a medium sized lidded jar. Lid the jar tightly and shake all ingredients till slightly emulsified.
  • Serve over individual salads or mix in initially with the tuna. 
Couscous salad~
  • 2  1/2 c cooked couscous
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1  scallion, diced
  • 1 14 oz can of sweet (low sodium) corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup hulled, steamed edamame
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp salt, or enough to flavor
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Mix together the cooked and cooled couscous, bell pepper, scallions, corn, edamame, almonds. salt, pepper.
  • Pour in vinaigrette or dress individual servings.
Beautiful you are, hulled baby soybeans. 
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • juice of half lemon
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chili oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt/ or for flavor
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Shake all ingredients in a tight lidded jar till combined.
  • Pour over salad or serve over individually.
~Any of the  leftover dressings can be refrigerated.

Beet and Yogurt (beetroot pachadi)~
  • 2 1/2 c non fat white yogurt
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 tsp salt or enough for flavor
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 14 oz can beets, drained and sliced into thin matchsticks

  • Whisk yogurt, water, salt and pepper till mixture is smooth.
  • In a skillet, on medium flame, heat oil.
  • Put in mustard seeds and allow seeds to temper and pop.
  • Mix in shallot, ginger and serrano.
  • Stir in sliced beets. Fry on medium high, frequently stirring, until all ingredients are cooked through and slightly crisp, about 7 minutes.
  • Take off heat. Set aside for a few minutes for extreme heat to subside.
  • Add to yogurt mixture and combine.
Much thanks to Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan, kudos to you three daring ladies, ushering in health and creativity in our kitchens. You pushed me in my thinking, and moved me beyond and over, with a greater love and unlimited vision for farmfresh ingredients and  endlessly good salad combinations.

Rocky the rockstar, guarding the goods! Meet my tireless companion during several hours of prepping, cooking and shooting- this one never leaves my side, Finally unable to contain himself, he "borrows" the tuna salad I set aside for myself. What do you do with such a cute thief? 

"No matter how dark it gets, He promises that “the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold…” (Isaiah 30:26) ~Beth Moore devotions. 

In those bad moments, when battle strikes and fear grips, go to Jesus, hold on to His strength and the mighty power of His word. He won't forsake you. Only He can illuminate and beam light to those darker than night places. This light not only knows no power failure, it’ll be brighter and greater than it ever would’ve been. 
"The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day."Proverbs 4:18


  1. So healthy and refreshing, I love the colours making this salad so vibrant!
    And love the balsamic in the vinaigrette to give it a kick!

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. love the way all ur salads look - beautiful!!!

    1. Thank you,friend, I owe it to the colorful ingredients,

  3. Tisa I love your rock star.. Oh he is a cute thief indeed :-) Please give him tight hug from me...
    The salads look very refreshing esp the beets.. love it

    1. Oh he will love your words. Yes, hugs will be conveyed in plenty, Rekha!

  4. Love that tuna avocado salad! So good! Your rock star looks so sweet :-))

  5. Delicious sald, Love it, your rock star is very cute.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!