The Spicy Coconut Milk Dressing I Love on Everything Lately

This spicy coconut milk dressing is wildly delicious on so many things – tacos, noodles, grilled vegetables, and salads. Make a jar and keep it on hand for quick meals.

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We spent the past week on the west shore of Lake Tahoe not far from where my family would stay each summer when I was young. The cabins along the lake are larger now, the water low. Teens fling themselves from piers into the clear, icy, waist-deep water. When the sky is cloudless, it’s the bluest place imaginable. The first thing I made once we were settled into our camp was a spicy coconut dressing (sauce?) that would go on *everything* throughout the week. It’s a variation on other spicy coconut milk dressings I’ve made in the past, but this version has a lot going on with grilled peppers and minced onions. You can see how I used it here, tossed with rice flake noodles, grilled tofu and whatever needed to be used up in the cooler – roasted tomatoes, cilantro, and lemon.
Spicy Coconut Milk Dressing Over Rice Noodles on a Plate
Here’s a view of the lake. Amazing blue overload. It never gets old.
Picnic Views of Lake Tahoe
The key to this dressing is blistering chiles before chopping and adding them to the rest of the ingredients. It takes the flavor from bright and green to something deeper and less sharp – still spicy though. You can see serrano chiles and Padron peppers below in a wide skillet. I really like to try to get color on all sides if possible.
Spicy Coconut Milk Dressing Over Rice Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes and Herbs
The super-creamy coconut base of this dressing is seasoned with lemon juice and spiked with spicy, blistered chiles. Next, more depth and dimension are added, coming from chopping lots of scallions and onions into juicy oblivion and stirring them in.
Ingredients Arrange in a White Bowl

Spicy Coconut Milk Dressing: What It’s Good On

So, let’s free-style about all the ways to use it. This recipe makes a good amount of dressing. You can use it as a finishing touch on tacos. It’s perfect tossed with just about any noodle or pasta. It’s a game-changer the next time you make potato salad dressing – use the potatoes plus this dressing and build from there. Bonus points if the potatoes are grilled or cooked in a fire. I love the spicy coconut drizzled over corn and grilled vegetables. And it’s great on a structured salad. Last night I put a few dollops in a classic red pasta sauce for a bit of je ne sais quoi and didn’t regret it one bit.

A Jar of Spicy Coconut Milk Dressing

Ingredient: Vegan Fish Sauce

For the salty component in this dressing I call for vegan fish sauce. I’ve been making a homemade version of it lately, using a recipe from Andrea Nguyen’s forthcoming Ever-Green Vietnamese cookbook. I’ve made other versions in the past, but her recipe is the best vegan fish sauce I’ve made. Now 100% my go-to. When the book is out you should absolutely give the recipe a try. In the meantime, there are some good vegan and vegetarian fish sauces available for purchase, including this Ocean’s Halo vegan fish sauce. Or, if you want to make the dressing pronto, swap in soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos for the fish sauce, if that is what you have on hand. Just add it as the last ingredient in the dressing, and add it to taste.
Close up of Platter of Rice Noodles and Tofu
Let me know if you give this dressing a try. Even better, let me know what you use it on! 
If you’re looking for more salad inspiration, here’s where you can browse all the salad recipes. I’m going to use this dressing on this this favorite heirloom apple salad this Fall. Or on this Grilled Wedge Salad as we wind down grilling season.

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Spicy Summer Miso Soup

A show-stopper miso soup made with a spicy broth punched up with garlic, ginger and chile paste. To that you add cubed potatoes, chopped cabbage and summer produce like cherry tomatoes, basil, and corn.

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I was paging through my notebook the other day, and stopped on a show-stopper miso soup I love. It’s something I cook a few times every year. Frankly, I’m surprised it has taken this long to share the recipe, but here we are! The foundation of this soup is the broth. It is a *punch* of flavor built on garlic, ginger, scallions, toasted sesame oil, miso and fermented chile paste. The broth is made creamy with a finishing dollop of good tahini. Building the soup from there, I always add cubes of waxy potatoes and lots of chopped green cabbage. It’s all finished off with cubes of tofu and a blitz of anything summery. Cherry tomatoes are cut into crescents, young yellow beans, sweet fresh corn, and slivered basil are all fair game. Those of you with gardens – raid them. 
Small Jar of Tobanjan Chile Paste

More About the Broth

The broth here is a riff on the Hot Sesame Miso Broth in Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton‘s Donabe book. This broth was “inspired by the Japenese ramen dish tan tan men, which is derived from the Chinese dan dan mein, or dan dan noodles.” You see it in the book served hot pot style with chicken meatballs. I jumped off the broth as a starting point and took the whole situation in a veg. direction, introducing the potatoes and cabbage and finishing with all things summery seasonal from there.
Pot of Spicy Summer Miso Soup

Let’s talk Spicy – What is Tobanjan?

Tobanjan is the spicy component here. It’s a feisty, salty, fermented bean paste that has become indispensable in my kitchen for its nuanced, layered heat – the love here is deep. I buy 3-4 little jars (above) at a time when I visit Tokyo Central in Orange County, Ca. You can also find it online – this is the brand Naoko stocks at her shop, Toiro Kitchen. Where I spend all my money on donabe – laugh/cry. Swap in another spicy paste or sauce if you don’t want to go down the tobanjan rabbit hole – the soup will be different, but still delicious.
Pot of Spicy Summer Miso Soup

As the seasons progress you can, of course, adapt with other ingredients. That’s the great thing here, a mushroom version is great later in the year. You can add some winter squash in with the potatoes, radicchio, etc. And in spring asparagus, fava beans, spring onions, and spring peas make an entirely different version. Have fun with it.

Explore more soup recipes here. The tomato recipes are here, and same goes for the corn recipes.

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Summer Corn Salad

A crunchy, sweet no-cook summer corn salad. The salad is a breeze, has a ton of toasted pepitas & sunflower seeds, tossed with a brown sugar lemonade vinaigrette.

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Summer is corn salad season. And this is a good one. I lugged a big sack of corn home from the market the other day thinking I would throw together a picnic salad to take on a hike out to the coast. The plan was to use raw corn kernels along with a vinaigrette I’ve been on hooked lately. If you can imagine a lemonade vinaigrette made with a bit of brown sugar, you’d be in the ballpark. The tart-sweet lemon dressing goes great with corn. Beyond that, the salad gets tossed with a ton of toasted seeds for crunch, and a generous showering of Mexican oregano to bring things back to Earth.
Summer Corn Salad on a Platter

Summer Corn Salad: The Key Ingredients

  • Corn: The key here is buying great corn. The sweeter the better. This corn salad has just a handful of ingredients, and the corn is the all-star. You’re not grilling it (although you could), and you’re not cooking it, so there’s really no where to hide if your corn is starchy. White corn or yellow corn is fine here. 
  • Oregano: I call for dried Mexican oregano, but whatever you have on hand (within reason) is fine. That said, if all you have is dusty, neglected oregano, consider using whatever other fresh herbs you might have.

Close-up of Yellow Corn on the Cob

Variations

Yes! You can absolutely do a grilled version of this salad if you like. It’s equally good, although I do make a couple little tweaks. After grilling your corn allow it to cool enough to handle, then shave the kernels from each ear. I like to add some minced serrano peppers to the grilled version on this salad for a little kick. Like the tiniest flecks. Really chop the chile(s) small and then season the salad to taste with those.

Seed Mixture for Summer Corn Salad

One More Corn Salad – Cooked + Coconut

If one corn salad isn’t enough this summer, or if you’re looking to switch it up a bit. This is another of my all-time favorite corn salad recipes. It uses a skillet approach and five ears of corn shaved in quick fashion, then sautéed in a bit of butter or olive oil. I trick it out with thyme, red onions, toasted almonds and coconut. Simple. Delicious. or if you’re on the the quest for salad inspiration in general, here’s where you can browse all the salad recipes

Summer Corn Salad on a Platter with a Serving Spoon

I hope you enjoy the corn salad if you try it. It’s a breeze to throw together, and it travels well in an over-sized jar. You can toss the corn and shallots ahead of time, just leave enough room to throw the seeds and oregano in just before serving/eating. Enjoy & happy summer! -h

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Vegan Fish Tacos

The vegan “fish” tacos to make on repeat. Quick-marinated slabs of golden-crusted tofu, avocado slathered tortillas, and a spicy sesame slaw come together in these favorite tacos.

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By request! Vegan fish tacos. Or maybe it needs to be vegan “fish” tacos. Either way, here’s why I’m sharing the details today. A few weeks back I published the coleslaw recipe I’ve been making on repeat all year. In the post I mention one of my favorite ways to enjoy it – piled into these tacos. Specifics were requested, and here we are! The recipe is a bit of a weirdo, and came together one day when I was pulling things from the fridge – slaw, tofu, tortillas. This was a meal without much of a plan, and it has since become one of my favorite ten-minute lunches. Quick-marinated slabs of tofu are coated in a dusting of cornstarch and cooked until you get a golden crust. Tacos are assembled with a good slather of avocado, the tofu, tempeh bacon (if you want to double down), and finished after browning in a pan with a couple generous scoops of this spicy sesame coleslaw.
Vegan Fish Tacos with Spicy Sesame Slaw on a Speckled Plate
Each component can be prepped ahead of time, and will last for days in your refrigerator. When it’s taco time – cook up the tofu and/tempeh, assemble your taco, and finish with the slaw. I’ll also add another photo down below. I sometimes make a bowl-situation with the components of the vegan “fish” tacos swapping out tortillas for soba noodles. Tofu Marinating in Container for Vegan Fish Tacos

Tofu: Puffy vs. Not

Tofu steps in for the fish component in these tacos. I use a strong, simple marinade plus a quick pan-fry. I should mention, on occasion, I’ll sometimes make a more puffy, beer-battered version of these – where you coat the tofu with a much thicker batter and then fry it in more oil than you see in todays recipe. But, the process is messier, a lot more decadent, and for an average weekday lunch or dinner, I prefer this version. I suspect you might too? It’s lighter and you get a lot of interesting flavors from the spicy sesame coleslaw dressing as well as the tofu marinade.

Can I Bake the Tofu?

Yes! If your oven is already going, and you don’t want to cook the tofu in a pan, bake it. Rub the pan with a bit of olive oil, skip the cornstarch step, and bake at 350F until the tofu is golden and bouncy in texture. Flip once along the way. You won’t get as much crispiness, but it’s still all good. Vegan Fish Tacos with Spicy Sesame Slaw on a Speckled Plate

Vegan “Fish” Tacos: Make Ahead Components

The three main components for these tacos are the tofu, the coleslaw, and the tortillas. Tempeh bacon is optional, but I actually really love it in this recipe. It lends a nice smoky depth to the whole taco. Wayne often buys it, and the brand is Lightlife. If you don’t have it, or can’t get it, just leave it out – still so good! I make these often without the tempeh, but love them extra extra much when I have it.

  • Coleslaw: this is the coleslaw I’m talking about. It’s the only one I use for these tacos. The spicy sesame dressing is the magic that pulls everything together. Don’t skimp, pile on the slaw. The spicy sesame creaminess from the slaw dressing, the sweetness of the apple, and crunchiness of the cabbage is what makes these tacos special. Slaw can be used up to 4 or 5 days after making. So, slaw made on Sunday can be used throughout the week.
  • Tofu: You can whip up the marinade and add the tofu up to 3-4 days in advance. Or, start some on Sunday, and use throughout the week.

I hope you try these and enjoy them as much as I do! let me know if you play around with any variations.

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Homemade Bouillon Powder

Let’s talk about bouillon and the reasons I’ve started to make my own homemade bouillon powder. I found myself surveying vegetarian bouillon options last year when I started pre-mixing dry ingredients for soups and stews to take on our camping trips – meals in jars. I wanted to have amazing, quick, one pot meals I […]

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Let’s talk about bouillon and the reasons I’ve started to make my own homemade bouillon powder. I found myself surveying vegetarian bouillon options last year when I started pre-mixing dry ingredients for soups and stews to take on our camping trips – meals in jars. I wanted to have amazing, quick, one pot meals I could make by adding water and just one or two other common pantry items like crushed tomatoes or chickpeas. In a couple of the soup mixes I call for a bouillon cube. Bouillon cubes are a super handy way to get a jumpstart on introducing flavors – whatever you’re cooking. That said, many of the commercially available options are very salty, have artificial ingredients and flavor enhancers, and a good number of you wrote to me asking for suggestions. So here we are, let’s make our own!
Homemade Bouillon Powder in a Small Glass Jar

What is Bouillon?

Technically, a bouillon cube is a dehydrated cube or powder used to create an instant stock. You see a range of bouillon in stores, often available as vegetable, meat, or chicken bouillon. It is used to make quick, flavorful broth when cooking soups, stews, grains, risottos, curries, and the like. They’re a great way to introduce depth and flavor to your cooking. Bouillon cubes are quite common in stores, and bouillon pastes seem to be increasingly common.
Close-up Photo of Homemade Bouillon Powder Ingredients

What is store-bought bouillon made of?

I’ve looked at the labels on many packages of bouillon in stores. Some of the ingredients I’ve seen on store-bought bouillon cubes include: maltodextrin, natural and artificial flavors, MSG, wheat flour, disodium inosinuate, and disodium guanylate. There’s usually some sort of fat component (for example: palm oil, soybean oil, canola oil), along with a sweetener. It’s tricky to find a readily-available bouillon option made with natural, minimally processed ingredients. The good news is it is exceptionally easy to make your own homemade bouillon powder.

Canned broth versus bouillon?

For my purpose of making dry soup mixes in a jar (like this or this), pre-made broths weren’t an option, but I’ll weigh in here anyway. I’m a hard-pass on most canned broth or pre-made broth in cartons. I generally don’t like how they taste – often muddied flavors or salty. I actually prefer to start with water and control salt levels myself, and will choose this route over packaged broths nearly always. I do love this homamde bouillon paste from years back, but it doesn’t work if you’re pre-prepping dry ingredients.
Bouillon Powder Ingredients in Individual Bowls prior to Mixing

Homemade Bouillon Powder Ingredients

Ok! Let’s talk though the ingredients in this DIY bouillon, so you’ll have a better understanding of where we landed for the “base” recipe. I’m also going to follow that up with a number of variations. The recipes are all for a general vegetarian bouillon, but there are endless ways for you to adapt the recipe with seaweed, or mushroom powder, or chiles to swing the flavor profile in one direction or another. That said, the key is nailing down your base bouillon recipe first!

  • Nutritional Yeast: My love for nutritional yeast runs deep and it’s a non-negotiable in this bouillon powder. It’s rich in flavor, body, and b-vitamins. It’s the backbone of this recipe and delivers umami-rich, chicken soup broth vibes. I’m not sure if there’s any truth to this, but I swear nutritional yeast is what makes my hair and nails grow extra fast.
  • Salt: I’ve been conflicted about how much salt to put in this base recipe. I was tempted to make it sodium-free or low-sodium, instructing people to salt to taste while cooking. But I think part of the wild popularity of bouillon and pre-made broths is that it helps home cooks season their food more than they might otherwise? In a good way. I landed on a ratio of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup nutritional yeast, and that would yield the equivalent of 24 bouillon cubes. I like how this tastes as a baseline, while leaving room to add more salt if you like.
  • Herbs & Spices: I like the combination of oregano and thyme here. It works with a lot of recipes and the scent and flavors of the brothy herbs is nostalgia triggering for me. I boost this powder with a bit of turmeric, black pepper, onions and garlic. I’ve used it in brothy soups and spicy curries and it works great.
  • Coconut Milk Powder: This is my wildcard. I noticed a lot of the commercial bouillons have ingredients that seem to be included to thicken broth and give it a bit of fatty mouth feel. I’ve been playing around with a bag of coconut milk powder recently, and though it might work nicely here as an optional add. In the context of the other ingredients in the bouillon it isn’t overly strong on the coconut front, but does bring a nice amount of body. I’ve also been adding the powder to these Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles, and this Tortellini Soup instead of bringing cans of coconut milk out with us and it works great.

Blended Bouillon Powder Ingredients in High-Speed Blender

Homemade Bouillon Powder Variations

  • Nori Bouillon Powder:  If you’re looking for a bouillon powder that is flavored more like the sea, I like to lightly toast a sheet of nori and pulse that into my bouillon powder.
  • Mushroom Bouillon Powder: There are many amazing mushroom powders and dried mushrooms available to cooks now. Adding 2 teaspoons of your favorite powder this recipe or 1/4 cup chopped dried culinary mushrooms before blending is a fun direction to explore.
  • Spicy Bouillon Powder: I tend to keep my spicy components separate from my bouillon. This allows you to control those ingredients independently. That said, adding a couple dried chiles (or blend of dried chiles) to your bouillon mix might be you path to the ultimate spicy broth over time.

Homemade Bouillon Paste in a Vintage Jar

Homemade Bouillon Paste

If having a dry bouillon isn’t important to you, this is another option. Pam Corbin included a homemade bouillon paste in the back of the River Cottage Preserves Handbook, and people love it. It’s a beautiful, pureed, concentrated paste of vegetables and herbs, preserved with salt.
Top Down Photo of Homemade Bouillon Powder in a Small Glass Jar

More Ideas

This bouillon powder isn’t just for broths and soup. I’ve been sprinkling it on buckwheat crepes as they start to set, so good! It’s also really delicious dusted across a bowl of popcorn. Or as a finishing magic touch on a simple bowl of rice.

Have fun with the bouillon and let me know if you take it other directions, I’ve love to hear about it. Here are some links to soup recipes to put it into play. Favorites for this bouillon powder include – Meal in a Jar: Tortellini Soup, Meal in a Jar: Italian Barley Soup, and Meal in a Jar: Spicy Coconut Curry Noodle Soup, Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, Vegetarian Split Pea Soup, or this Vegetable Noodle Soup.

Eight Homemade Spice Blends

If these sorts of seasonings and spices are your thing (I love them!), be sure to check out this post of 8 Homemade Spice Blends. I made a downloadable PDF of a number of my favorite spice blend recipes and on that page you can take a closer look, and you can use this bouillon powder in a number of them! 

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Chickpea Salad Sandwich

The chickpea salad sandwich filling to make in bulk for easy lunches and snacks all week. A perfect vegetarian or vegan sandwich option.

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If you’re looking for low-lift, substantial, vegetarian or vegan sandwich ideas, you’re going to want to make a deli-sized container of this chickpea salad sandwich filling. It’s not only perfect for really great chickpea salad sandwiches, it’s also a favorite filing in lettuce wraps, and a legit snack spread throughout the week. When you go the sandwich route, it’s like a vegan “tuna salad” sandwich with chickpeas standing in for the tuna. Or chicken salad sandwich with chickpeas instead of chicken. This is not a new concept, but I thought I’d walk you through the version I make around here on many Sunday afternoons.

Chickpea Salad Sandwich on a Plate with Potato Chips

What I Love About This Sandwich

There are so many things I love about this sandwich. I love the garlic-rubbed crunchiness of the bread in contrast to the softer chickpea salad filling. And I love that it keeps me going for hours. Basically, it’s delicious, and it does the job. If you keep a big container of this in your refrigerator, not only can you make excellent chickpea salad sandwiches all week, you can switch it up all sorts of ways I’ll outline below.
Ingredients for Chickpea Salad Sandwich Recipe arranged in a Large Bowl

Chickpea Salad Sandwich Ingredients

To take an average chickpea salad sandwich to the next level, pay attention to the ingredients first. I go strong a number of the ingredients others tend to be a bit shy about, but I find this approach delivers a chickpea sandwich filling that hits all the right buttons, and is even better on days two and three. The flavors really come together. Here are some thoughts on the ingredients in this sandwich, and how I choose (or deal with) each one.

  •  Bread: I’m going to argue that there are two routes to go on the bread front. You’re either going to want to choose slices of good, hearty sourdough bread for this sandwich. Slices you can toast or grill brushed with olive oil and rubbed with the better part of a clove of garlic. Or, take the completely opposite approach by choosing a soft, pillowy squishy loaf of some sort of multi-grain sandwich bread. Maybe you lightly toast this bread, but maybe not. I most often opt for the toasted sourdough (pictured throughout), and tend to enjoy it open-faced this way, but there are times when I like this chickpea salad sandwich with a softer bread as well. I suspect you’ll know which camp you’re in from go.
  • Chickpeas: You smash the chickpeas, and to do so you have a couple options. Because I will do just about anything to avoid unnecessarily having to wash an appliance, I typically hand-smash the chickpeas in a large bowl using a large fork, or (even better!) a potato masher. Some chickpeas are softer than others, it seems to vary from can to can, and I find chickpeas cooked from dry beans generally have more structure. If you end up with harder chickpeas, the fork method can be a bit frustrating. Grab a potato masher or a few quick pulses in a food processor also does the trick. You want to break down the chickpeas, not attempt to turn them to hummus, so go easy on the pulsing.
  • Mustard: I prefer whole-grain mustard here, but if you have a Dijon-style mustard on hand, by all means use that. I also tend to dial up the mustard quite a bit – more assertive, but still balanced I’d argue. 
  • Relish: I usually reach for whatever deli-style relish Wayne has in the refrigerator door. It’s usually on the sweeter side but doesn’t have to be.
  • Walnuts:  I love the texture and substance a few toasted walnuts bring to this sandwich. Give it a go, even if you’re a bit skeptical. I found myself out of walnuts for this round of sandwiches and really enjoyed the pine nut swap!
  • Chile: I always add a finely chopped serrano to this chickpea salad sandwich filling, it adds dimension more that spiciness, and a nice pop of green flavor. Optional, of course, but recommended.

Cross-section View of Chickpea Salad Sandwich on a Plate cut in Half

Variations!

The recipe I’m posting down below is my base “go-to” chickpea salad sandwich recipe. But I love to play around. Here are some variations I’ve enjoyed over there years to encourage you to also experiment with the ingredients you have on hand.

  • Ultra Hippie Chickpea Salad Sandwich: To the chickpea salad, add a couple handfuls of finely chopped kale & toasted sunflower seeds in place of the walnuts, and a tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast. Finish with crushed toasted nori or nori furikake.
  • Spicy Chickpea Salad Sandwich: I love a spicy everything, but with this sandwich like the lead spicy component *on* the sandwich, not mixed in. Tabasco, Cholula, or other hot sauce sprinkled across the top of the chickpea salad component is where it’s at for me. Calabrian Chile paste is also A+ here as the spicy topping.
  • Vegan Chickpea Salad Sandwich: To make this sandwich vegan, use your favorite plant-based, vegan yogurt. You basically want something to pull all the ingredients together, so if you don’t have a vegan yogurt on hand, you can experiment with a vegan mayo, tahini, or a combination of the two as well. Keep in mind, this is basically a vegan “tuna” salad sandwich, with smashed chickpeas standing in for the tuna. And similar to a tuna sandwich, it is very much about personal preference and ingredient ratios. 

Chickpea Salad Sandwich Ingredients Mixed together in a Large Bowl
The recipe included below is my base starting point, but play around a bit with the ingredients you keep on hand and love. Other things I like to mix in (not all at once): shredded basil in summer, a smoked salt, finely shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, a couple teaspoons of miso, a bit of preserved lemon. Have fun, experiment, and let me know any favorite combinations you come up with.
Close-up Photo of Chickpea Salad Sandwich on a Plate cut in Half on a Plate with Potato Chips

I hope you enjoy this sandwich as much as I do, it really is one of my favorite, easy, feel-good lunches. If you love chickpeas as much as I do here’s where you can browse more chickpea recipes – there are tons! There are more sandwich recipes, and some of my favorites include this Vegetarian TLT Sandwich, classic Egg Salad Sandwich, Grillable Tofu Burgers. Or if you’re just looking for easy ways to combine good bread with good toppings, it’s hard to beat bruschetta, and I talk through how to adapt it for the seasons on that page – beyond tomatoes ;). 

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Spicy Sesame Coleslaw

Feathery green and red cabbages along with carrots, apples, and scallions tossed with a spicy, creamy sesame dressing.

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We had a bunch of cabbage come out of the garden this year. I basically made one thing with it, a feathery slaw made from shredded green and red cabbages, apples, carrots, and scallions tossed with a spicy sesame dressing. If you’ve ever had asparagus or spinach goma-ae at a Japanese restaurant you’ll recognize the inspiration for the dressing. Toss it all together, and you’ve got a great slaw on your hands. It’s a slaw that is good on its own. It’s great on tacos. It’s perfect as a side to soba noodles. I’ve even thrown a few big scoops in a bowl of short pasta with a few chickpeas and called it lunch. Prep a big bowl and enjoy it for days.
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Pink Bowl

The Key to Great Coleslaw

I’m funny about how I like my coleslaw, and it’s all about knife skills. I talked about it at length when I posted this Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw years back, and it applies here as well. I like the cabbage to be chopped thin. I like it each bite to be feathery as opposed to coarse or chunky. My feeling that a great coleslaw recipe is created with good knife skills and a short list of easy-to-find ingredients stands all these years later. Equal importance being placed on both ingredients and the cut of the cabbage.
Ingredients for Spicy Sesame Coleslaw Dressing in Kitchen

Spicy Sesame Coleslaw Dressing

The base of this coleslaw is pretty straightforward – cabbage, scallions, carrots, cilantro, and apple. The dressing is where things get interesting here. The dressing is creamy sesame deliciousness accented with a jolt of sriracha (or whatever spicy component you like), and a balancing squeeze of fresh lime juice. The dressing coats all the slaw ingredients and brings it together. 
Sesame Seeds in a Grinding Bowl
There are a few ways to grind the sesame seeds in this dressing. I tend to use my suribachi, a ridged Japanese grinding bowl. You can also have at it in a traditional mortar and pestle, or a few pulses in a food processor (or blender) will also do the trick. You have options!
Spicy Sesame Dressing in a Jar
Here’s how it looks as the dressing comes together, it’s creamy, flavor rich, and the perfect consistency to coat your slaw. You can make it as spicy (or not) as you like. Also, pro tip here, I always make double the dressing and use it throughout the week. 
Ingredients for Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Bowl Prior to Mixing

Preparing Spicy Sesame Coleslaw Ingredients

Above you can see the slaw ingredients prior to dressing. Aside from slicing the apple, you can prepare all of the ingredients and the (sesame coleslaw dressing) a day or two before serving. I like to give the sliced apple a bath in lemon or lime juice just before tossing to keep them from discoloring. You’ll see that in the recipe instructions so heads up on that front. You can get a jump start on the rest of the shredding and chopping ahead of time. 
Marinating Ingredients with Knife on the Side

More Ideas

I wanted to highlight a few of the ways I’ve enjoyed this coleslaw in previous weeks. I literally put in on, in, or under everything around here and it is a bit out of control. You can see tofu marinating up above, I like to take that and cook it quickly in a skillet. Serve the tofu over the coleslaw with a side of soba noodles. A lot of the time I have some tofu marinating, so when I have this coleslaw in the refrigerator, boiling some soba turns this into a tasty ten minute meal – see photo below. Let me know if you want me to write up this in detail. Happy to.
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in A Bowl with Tofu and Noodles
Ok, here’s the other way I like to enjoy the spicy sesame coleslaw on repeat. You see it pictured below. It’s a taco situation. That marinated tofu up above? I treat it “fish taco-style” where it is dusted with a bit of cornstarch and then pan-fried until it gets a crispy crust. Here’s how the taco is assembled. Apply a thin layer of smashed avocado on a tortilla. Add a layer of well-cooked tempeh bacon (Wayne buys the Lightlife Smoky Tempeh Bacon), and then some of the cooked tofu. Brown the (filled) tortilla on both sides until golden. Immediately fill with lots of coleslaw, and I like a little extra green salsa as well. My favorite lunch right now! 
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Taco in a Bowl
Here’s one more view of the taco + coleslaw situation from a slightly different angle so you can really get a sense of what is happening inside. My main advice is don’t skip on the coleslaw. I really load it up.
Spicy Sesame Coleslaw in a Taco in a Bowl

Coleslaw Recipe Shortcuts

I’m going to finish with a few shortcut suggestions here. As I mention up above you can do most of the prep for this recipe whenever you have a moment or two. I typically make a double batch of the dressing so it is ready in the refrigerator for me. Then all you need to do is a bit of chopping, grating, or shredding, and you’re good to go. I like to hand cut the cabbages here, so it is just to my liking, but beyond that you have options. If you have a grating attachment for your food processor, you can use that for the carrots, apples, and scallions. It definitely makes quick work things. Alternately you can use the large side of a box grater for the carrots and apples. I typically use a knife for everything (to avoid more dishes lol), but go with whatever you like. 

If this isn’t your quite what you’re after, browse these other salad recipes, or try this Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw, or this wonderful Cucumber Salad, or this Shredded Egg Salad.

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Meal In a Jar: Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

Just add water and a splash of coconut milk to make this fragrant curry noodle pot. A dynamic and feisty broth is bolstered with cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric enveloping egg noodles and whatever seasonal vegetables you have on hand.

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I’ve been trying to nail down a great curry noodle “in a jar” situation for months. My first attempt was late last year when we took the Airstream out to the desert south of Palm Springs. I’ve worked through five or six revisions in the months since, and learned some important lessons along the way. Once you have the core ingredients in a jar (or bag), all you need is water and a splash of coconut milk. You end up with a dynamic and feisty broth bolstered with cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, dried mushrooms and turmeric. It’s incredibly fragrant and delicious. The broth envelops tangles of egg noodles and whatever seasonal vegetables you have on hand to toss in at the last minute. I tend to use shredded cabbage and some tofu, and broccoli florets if I have them. So easy, so good!
Meal In a Jar: Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles
I think I finally cracked the code on the coconut curry noodles last week while parked at a stunning stretch of California coastline near Santa Barbara, but there have been some real fails in the attempts all winter. Getting the feisty broth to a place I loved was a breeze, it was getting the noodles right that gave me the most trouble. Turned out, the trick is using just the right noodles for a one-pot cooking approach. You need noodles that are happy to simmer along with all the other ingredients without getting overly goopy, or without making the broth too thick and starchy. I’ll get into the specifics down below.Spicy Coconut Curry Noodle Ingredients arranged in a Weck Jar

The “Meals In Jars” Series:

If you’re just stumbling on this I’ll back up a bit. I’ve done a few of these types of meals in jars lately. I love to keep them on hand for fast weeknight meals and take them out on road trips and camping as well. I keep the base recipes pretty strict and my general rule of thumb is to aim for “just add water.” Or, in this case a bit of coconut milk. With the Italian Barley Soup and the Tortellini Soup it’s just water and canned tomatoes.  The idea is that if all you have is the content of the jar, water, and perhaps a pantry-friendly ingredient or two, you have all you need for a really good meal.

Ingredients for Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles on Picnic table

Let’s Talk about The Mushrooms

Let’s get into some detail related to the ingredients in these curry noodles. I call for chopped dried porcini mushrooms in this recipe. They lend a really great earthy counter-balance to the spicy cayenne and ginger notes in the broth. They’re worth sourcing and using, and I’m calling them out here because I know a bunch of you are going to want to skip them (lol). I just want to encourage you not to. If you have another dried mushroom in your pantry, one you love, yes,  you can absolutely substitute, but don’t skip the dried mushrooms altogether. 

Meal In a Jar: Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

Coconut Milk Alternatives?

Use full-fat coconut milk here and not low-fat. If you want a more creamy curry by all means add more to the broth, and simply re-season to your liking. Also, if you’re looking for a coconut milk alternative, I’ve had a lot of success using homemade cashew milk with these curry noodles. I blend 1 cup soaked cashews with 1 cup of water as the ratio using a high-speed blender until creamy smooth. Any leftover coconut milk or cashew milk freezes nicely, so tend to save any into baggies for later use, and both work nicely here. 

View of Coastline from table cooking Coconut Curry Noodles

What Kind of Noodles to Use?

I ran through a lot of noodles before landing on Italian-style egg pasta nests as the best choice for this recipe. Here’s what makes the noodle choice tricky. This is a one-pot meal. That is the whole point. You’d have a lot more noodle options if you wanted to boil your noodles in a separate pot, and then add them, fully cooked, to your curry pot at the perfect moment. But that isn’t what we’re going for here.

I tried rice noodles of various thickness but they were never happy, and wanted to be cooked separately. Thinking through other quick cooking pastas, I tested angel hair pasta, and that was a hard no. I tried breaking spaghetti into segments, and that wasn’t right either. But these tagliatelle egg nests, the kind you can pick up in an Italian deli, and many other grocery stores were great! Adding them after you’ve let the broth simmer a bit, they cooked into slurpy perfection.

Egg Noodles To Use in Jar Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

An Outdoor Coconut Curry Noodle Pot 

This is a brothy situation with turmeric involved. I’ve cooked it a number of times in the Airstream, but because the cooking space is cramped, this is definitely a meal I prefer to cook and eat outside. My little Iwatani burner paired with a donabe is a great light-weight, easy to set up combo. I love the donabe because the clay really holds the heat and keeps the curry warm in case you’re up for seconds. For anyone worried about traveling with a clay pot, I keep it in the box it was shipped in to keep it safe while driving. You can see the set-up below.

Heidi at a Table with Ingredients and Pot of Coconut Curry Noodles

Here’s a snapshot of the recipe in my notebook below (the final version is typed up below). I like to write up recipes in pencil, and then erase to make changes and evolve the recipe over time. I always have a line for “next time” and that is where I leave notes to self about what to do when attempting the recipe again.  Leaving little notes about what has worked and what hasn’t so I don’t repeat past fails is also an important part of my template. And if I’m working and testing recipes for a book I take a slightly different approach. If I know a recipe is going to go into a book I type it up and move a printout to a binder, filing versions and changes there, and maintaining digital files. I did a series of posts about my Making a Cookbook process years ago (2015!) related to Near & Far – it might be helpful if you think you might want to write a cookbook someday but are overwhelmed by the process. A bit of a tangent, but that’s how it typically goes down on the recipe front over here.

Spicy Coconut Curry Noodle Recipe Handwritten in a Notebooks

What if I’m Cooking for 2?

One last note related to the recipe, a lot of camping saucepans are small, and this recipe calls for 7 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of coconut milk. So, a good amount of liquid. You’re going to want to use a sizable pot. If your pot is smaller, or maybe you’re cooking for less than 4, here’s the plan. As long as your pot can hold 6 cups of water comfortably (knowing you’ll also be adding pasta and vegetables), you’re fine. Use all the spices, etc. as written, and scale back the pasta nests by one or two, and proceed with recipe. Your broth with be a bit stronger (in a good way). 

Meal In a Jar: Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles

Other favorite Meals in Jars: 

I hope you all enjoy this one as much as I do! I love it as a camping meal, especially if it is cold out. If you’re looking for more ideas along these lines I’ll just highlight this Italian Barley Soup and the Tortellini Soup again as well, or browse all the soup recipes. Keep your pantry stocked with a few of these for quick, low-lift homemade meals.

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Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

These vegan enchiladas are knock-out delicious, in the oven in less that ten minutes, and a healthful alternative to all the heavy cheese versions out there. With black beans, sweet potatoes, and a stealthy turmeric boost.

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A weeknight-friendly enchilada has to check a lot of boxes for me. You ready for the short list? Here we go. These enchiladas need to be knock-out delicious AND: easy to assemble, free from pre-cooking any components, a healthful alternative to all the heavy cheese versions out there, and, ideally, in the oven in less that ten minutes. That’s the dream scenario. After some experimentation, I offer you these – quick, vegan enchiladas. 
Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce
What you’re looking at are tender enchiladas made with black beans, sweet potatoes, and a stealthy turmeric boost. I also focused on making a version that was plant-based and vegan, but also easily adaptable. If you want to add a bit of feta to the filling here (if you’re not vegan, of course) then go for it. These are also extra good topped with a bit of good guacamole. It’s a recipe that should be able to accommodate much of what you might dream of rolling into a tortilla and baking until bubbly and golden.
Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce
This recipe is similar in spirit to the Last Minute Lasagna a bunch of you have been making. In fact, I started working on both of those around the same time, so if you like one of them, give the other a try as well.
Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

Variations

A couple of notes, I wrote the recipe calling for canned winter squash – anything like pumpkin, sweet potato, or another winter squash will work. Whatever you and your family tends to like. I stumbled on a canned butternut squash during a spin through Trader Joe’s, a while back, stocked up, and that is what you see pictured here. You can, of course, use squash you’ve roasted at home in place of canned – it just makes the process less quick ;)…

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Meal in a Jar: Italian Barley Soup

This is a favorite flavor-packed meal in a jar – an herb-flecked, hearty, Italian Barley Soup with a bit of a hippie twist. Just add water and a can of crushed tomatoes and you’re on your way to a really great pot of soup.

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Not all of of my “meal in a jar” recipes are soups, but a lot of them are. We’ll branch out at some point, I promise! In the meantime, this is the second recipe in a series that started recently when I posted a favorite tortellini soup in a jar. You were incredibly receptive to that (♥!!), so here we are with a second meal in a jar. It’s an herb-flecked, hearty, Italian Barley Soup. Italian-ish would probably be a more accurate description as I like to boost the jar contents with mung beans and quinoa from my pantry, and any vegetables tend to be added at the end rather than the start.

Italian Barley Soup in a Bowl with Spoon
I love to keep these jars on hand for fast weeknight meals and take them out on road trips and camping as well. I keep the base recipes pretty strict and my general rule of thumb is to aim for “just add water.” Or, in this case (and the tortellini soup), just add water + a can of tomatoes is fair game. The idea is that if all you have is the content of the jar, water, and perhaps an pantry-friendly ingredient or two, you have all you need for a really good meal.Dry ingredients for Italian Barley Soup in a Jar

Italian Barley Soup Variations & Ideas

  • swap in 1 cup of pearled farro for the barley. Or go halfsies!
  • add a well-drained can of chickpeas
  • put an egg on it, my preference here is poached
  • drizzle with chile oil
  • add some cubes of root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, or sweet potatoes along with the jar contents. This gives them enough time to cook alongside the grains.

Italian Barley Soup in a Jar in a Wood Cabinet with other Ingredients
This soup fits nicely in a pint jar. I always get emails about the jar pictured on the left (below) here, it’s a Weck jar, and they come in a range of sizes and shapes. I also love to reuse all manner of jam and sauce jars in for storage in an effort to keep plastics to a minimum in my kitchen.
Side View of Italian Barley Soup ingredients in Jars
One other thing I’ll mention is don’t store these “forever”. I try to use mine in the coming month or so. The grains will be better (and not rancid), herbs and spices more fragrant, and all the rest.
Soup Pot along with Soup ingredients on Counter
You might not think the contents of this jar will deliver a big pot of soup, but it does! The grains really swell up and absorb the herby-tomato broth. You might even need to add an extra splash of water depending on how long you allow the soup to simmer – to thin things out to your liking. 
A Collection of Meals in Jars on Marble Counter
Here’s a collection of dump & stir meals in jars ready to go (above photo). If you’re interested in any of the baking versions I do, let me know! I take those out with us too when camping – for pancake mixes, breads baked in our portable pizza oven, etc. Or I’m happy to stick with soups, curries, and the like for now.
Pot of Italian Barley Soup Photographed from Above

More Ideas!

I mention this down below, in the recipe, you can add all sorts of fresh vegetables to this soup depending on what you have on hand. I typically add lots of chopped kale. We have a seemingly endless supply of it coming from our garden plot. It cooks way down, so if you’re going to use it go ahead and use more than you might think. Broccoli florets are another good booster vegetable to get some green going in your bowl. Chopped or shredded cabbage is also a super choice here. 

Here’s the Meal in a Jar: Tortellini Soup, and here’s where you can browse the complete archive of soup recipes.

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