A Pansy Tribute

Pansies are one of those simple plants that just keeps on giving.  There must be a pansy created for every condition and region of the country.  I first became aware of them in Greenville, South Carolina where they bloomed like crazy in the blazing summer heat.   In my McKenzie River garden,  violas and violets,  pansies’ relatives, were the first to poke their tiny purple heads out the early spring snow.

Late this summer, I hastily added a few pansies to fill out a sparse planter in my dooryard garden. Without much effort, they consistently carried on and bloomed with the least amount of care; and still, as  winter approaches,  pansies  remain one of the durable spots of color in my depleted pots.

I tend to go with plants that serve a dual purpose in my garden: I prefer attractive as well as edible varieties. Some are perennials, like herbs, towering garlic onions and nasturtiums.  Annual favorites are mesclun blends, petite tomatoes, and climbing baby cucumbers.  Weirdly, when it comes to harvesting the pansies I have resisted.  I’ve been happy to simply behold their nodding faces in a spectrum of purples, blues, reds and yellows, all perfectly framed by their deep green leaves.

As I headed out this morning, I was alarmed to note that the pot of pansies had diminished to a sad state of drooping heads and withered yellow leaves.  It signaled the end of a season.  Later in a moment of reflection, I decided to stage my own act of thanksgiving—gratitude for my garden and all the pansies that have given so much joy this year.

Back in the kitchen, I set about creating a special salad featuring the pansies in an end of season tribute.  So, here it is, a pre-winter canvas of mixed greens and fresh herbs with a bit of radicchio and shredded carrot for crunch.

The basis of the simple dressing is a mild yet flavorful German mustard blended with a bit of chives and lemon juice all whisked into an emulsion with extra virgin olive oil. Atop the greens, a few dried cherries are scattered with crumbled feta cheese, toasted almonds and walnuts.  Finally, a smattering of pansy blossoms and petals grace the plate with their gentle sweetness and color.

A Pre-Winter Salad with Pansies

Per serving
3-4 organic pansy blossoms
2-3 cups mixed greens with radicchio and shredded carrots
1 tablespoon fresh parsley and/or other herbs
2 tablespoon toasted walnuts and/or almonds
2 tablespoons dried fruit: cherries, blueberries or cranberries
2 tablespoon feta cheese, large crumble
¾ teaspoon German or Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon minced chives
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Pinch salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste


  1. Rinse and dry fresh pansies and any other available fresh flowers, mixed greens and herbs.
  2. Toast the nuts.
  3. Prepare the salad dressing: place mustard in small bowl, add the chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and combine well. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify.  Adjust seasoning and set aside.
  4. In small mixing bowl, place the salad mix, tear the petals from 1 or two blossoms, drizzle with part of the dressing and toss to coat.
  5. To serve: plate the dressed greens mixture, top with crumbled feta, dried fruit and nuts, and tuck in remaining flowers.  Drizzle with a bit more dressing and serve. Yield: 1 serving.


The Next Generation Potato Salad

While prowling the farmers’ market recently, one glance at a startling yellow cauliflower told me  I must have one. Its dappled pale buttercup color was so surreal it looked hand painted, and I instantly knew what would become of it.

For some time now, I have been tinkering with the idea of a cauliflower salad reminiscent of a Danish-style potato salad I used to make for picnics and barbecues. It was particularly popular for catering because it also included a few green peas, a little red pepper for color, and small cubes of cheese.

Later in the day, I ended up steaming the cauliflower florets for 3 minutes in my  Instant Pot pressure cooker, and then used the quick release to avoid overcooking. Out of the pot, I drizzled the hot cauliflower with a small amount of Dijon vinaigrette/marinade; just enough for the flavors to absorb as it cooled down.

Meanwhile, additional vegetables and a hard cooked egg were quickly prepped. When all ingredients were combined with the vinaigrette flavored mayonnaise I was glad to note that it required far less binder than a typical potato salad. 
A quick taste test revealed a light, well-flavored, refreshing salad. It was not a dreary, heavy, non-descript mound lacking any food value. This was most definitely worthy of becoming the next generation potato salad.

In no time, the gorgeous salad was in the fridge getting a good chill on—ready and waiting for grilled burgers later.

Cauliflower Picnic Salad

1 small head yellow cauliflower, broken in large bite sized florets

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chive or other light vinegar
Salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 ½ tablespoon olive oil

½ cup frozen peas, partially defrosted
1 stalk celery, chop
2 green onions, mince
¼ cup red pepper, mince
2 tablespoon parsley, chop
¼ cup smoked Gouda cheese, small cubes
1 hard cooked egg, coarsely mashed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise


  1. Steam the florets using your favorite method. Or, using the Instant Pot pressure cooker, line bamboo steamer baskets with cauliflower leaves and divide the cauliflower evenly. Stack them, cover top with foil, and place on trivet. Add 1 cup water to the cooker and steam for 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile prepare vinaigrette.  Whisk the mustard and vinegar with salt, pepper and thyme to combine.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified and thick.
  3. When steaming is complete, use quick release.  Remove cauliflower from steamer, place in salad bowl add peas, and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of vinaigrette, just enough to absorb into cauliflower.  Let cool, about 20 minutes.
  4. When cauliflower is cool, add celery, onions, red pepper, parsley, Gouda, and egg.
  5. Add 2-3 teaspoons marinade to mayonnaise to thin slightly and pour over the cauliflower mixture. Toss to coat well and chill 1 to 2 hours.  Serves 4 or more.

Anise Chicken: Ready for Summer Heatwaves

When summer arrives and the heat sets in, my eating habits change. I shift to lighter, easier meals—foods that perk up an often peckish appetite.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Chinese method of poaching chicken.  It results in a beautiful clear broth, utterly pristine flavors, and meat that is succulent and tender. Here’s an outstanding riff on that approach which requires very little actual cooking time—much relies on the broth’s residual heat to do the work. It’s an ideal technique for summertime heatwaves.

The idea comes from Wendy Kiang-Spray’s lovely cookbook The Chinese Kitchen Garden. A whole chicken (here I’ve used the equivalent, 2 Cornish game hens) is dry rubbed with salt, stuffed with whole star anise, and refrigerated for 1- 3 days. When ready to launch, it’s brought to room temperature before lowering into to a pot of simmering water and cooked uncovered for a mere 10 minutes. Then, it’s covered and allowed to steep in the hot broth’s residual heat for 45 minutes. The chicken is fast cooled in an ice water bath for 15 minutes and patted dry.

The resulting broth is bewitchingly addictive: the star anise flavor is present, but not overtly so.  It’s a lovely liquid for cooking rice, grains, vegetables, etc.  For a soup stock, I opted to keep it light and not overwhelm it with too many heavy flavors.

A few slices of ginger, some garlic, and a dash of soy sauce hit the right balance for a soba noodle soup with chicken and a few fresh vegetables.

The anise chicken has happily starred in a variety of applications. When pressed, I have whipped up a simple Asian dipping sauce, but Wendy also suggests a Ginger-Onion Garlic Oil, also included because it is such a nice touch.

Of my favorite uses, I remain a big fan of an easy Asian Chicken Salad served with plenty of sesame crepes (yum—coming soon!) along with spoonfuls of hoisin sauce for stuffing/rolling purposes. Welcome to summer 2017, rolling out with record 101° heat.

Anise Poached Chicken

Inspired by The Chinese Kitchen Garden by Wendy Kiang-Spray

3 pound whole chicken
2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt
20 pieces whole star anise
Ginger-Onion/Garlic Oil (optional)
2” section ginger, peel and slice
3-4 garlic whistles or 3 “bunching onions” (a leek-like variety), cut in 2” lengths
¼ cup oil


  1. Rinse and pat dry chicken. Rub inside and out with 2 tablespoons coarse salt. Place the star anise in the cavity. Place in zip lock and refrigerate 1-3 days.
  2. Remove chicken and bring to room temperature (about 1 hour ahead).
  3. Fill pot with enough water to cover chicken and bring to a boil.  Lower anise-filled chicken into pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer chicken uncovered 10 minutes. Skim residue off top of water. Turn off heat and cover with tight fitting lid.  Allow to steep undisturbed for another 45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.  Meanwhile make Ginger and Onion Oil. Crush ginger and onions with mortar and pestle or pulse in food processor. Place the paste in heatproof bowl and add 1 tsp salt.  Heat the oil until hot. Carefully pour the hot oil over the ginger and onion mixture.
  4. When chicken is cooked through, remove from pot, reserving pot liquid for another purpose:  cooking rice or other grain, etc.  Lower chicken into an ice water bath to quickly stop the cooking process. In about 15 minutes when cooled, remove and pat dry.
  5. Chop into pieces and serve with a drizzle of ginger-onion oil. Nice over steamed white rice or other. Serves 4-6.

Potstickers Galore

Not long ago, I came across a small bamboo stacked steamer in an Asian market that looked to be the right fit for my 5-quart Instant Pot.  It’s quite charming sitting in my tiny kitchen, but more than that, eyeing it caused my mouth to water—as visions of  steamed dumplings danced in my head.

When I spotted Martin Yan’s potsticker recipe I knew I had the perfect excuse to pull everything together and start cooking.  Although I tailored this for my Instant Pot and steamer set-up, any steamer, wok or large  pan with a lid or foil to seal will do the trick.

The process is very much like making wontons. Martin incorporates Napa cabbage, ground pork or turkey, and dried black mushrooms in his filling. I’ve made a few adjustments, like adding an egg white for binder and extra moisture plus a bit of hoisin and mushroom soy sauce instead of oyster sauce. Instructions follow for Instant Pot as well as Martin Yan’s browning/steaming in a 12” sauté pan.

This makes plenty of potstickers!

I ended up making batches two days in a row—smartly pacing self to avoid eating all potstickers in sight.  So many did I have, there was an Asian salad event and more to freeze for a later soup.


Inspired by Martin Yan’s Potstickers.

40 round potsticker or wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons cooking oil
CB’s Spicy Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons  sriracha sauce or chile paste
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 dried Shiitake mushrooms
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage (approx.)
2 tablespoons green onion, chop
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound ground pork or ground turkey
1 clove garlic, mince
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce


  1. Make spicy dipping sauce: in a small bowl, combine ingredients and set aside.
  2. Soak mushrooms: In a bowl, soak mushrooms in warm water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes; drain. Discard stems and coarsely chop caps.
  3. Salt cabbage: In a bowl, combine Napa cabbage and salt, toss well and set aside until cabbage wilts, about for 5 minutes. Squeeze out and discard excess water.
  4. For filling: combine mushrooms and cabbage with remaining filling ingredients in a bowl; mix well.
  5. To shape potstickers: moisten the edges of the round wrapper and place a teaspoonful of filling in center. Pull up, flatten bottom, and pleat edges with some filling showing. Or, lightly fold in half, then press the outer edges inward to create a 4-pronged star on top. Keep remaining wrappers covered with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying. Repeat until filling is used or set aside half and make as needed.
  6. To steam in Instant Pot: line 2 steamer baskets with cabbage leaves or parchment paper.  Set in baskets without touching. In bottom of Instant Pot add about 2 cups water.  Place bamboo steamer on wire rack and cover with bamboo lid or seal top with foil. Cover tightly, close vents, steam for 6 minutes and use quick release.  Repeat as desired.  Yield: about 40 potstickers.

To fully cook in skillet:  heat 10-12” skillet over medium high until hot.  Add 1 tablespoons oil to coat bottom of pan.  Add about 10 potstickers, flat side down and cook until bottom are golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup water, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until water is absorbed, 4-5 minutes. Remove and serve with spicy dipping sauce.
To reheat/brown the bottoms:  if desired, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoons oil to cover bottom of pan, add a layer of cooked potstickers and cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add a couple of spoonfuls of water in pan to create steam, cover and cook briefly until warmed through and water is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Serve with spicy dipping sauce.

Layered Lentil Salad—in a Jar

If you are looking for ways to add more salad to your life here’s a fun, make-ahead solution that even includes its own dressing!

Photo by Danbury Poage

Pull out a wide mouthed Mason jar, pour in a little salad dressing, then pack in ingredients—layering heavier items on bottom and ending with more fragile vegetables and lettuce on top.  While at it, make a few extra to pull out as needed; they will hold several days in the fridge without lettuce becoming soggy.

The star of this salad is the nuanced peppery le Puy lentil, a firm, dark green variety that holds its shape very well.  They can be found in better grocery stores and in most bulk food sections; but if not available substitute garbanzo beans.

Radishes, fennel or celery are all excellent salad companions here, along with contrasting narrow strips of young zucchini.  At the base of the salad dressing, a spicy or grainy mustard not only provides a bright bite, it also acts as an emulsifier to bind the dressing from separation while it stands.

Photo by Danbury Poage

When ready, give the salad a good shake and empty contents into a pasta bowl or other wide bowl.  Toss well to distribute dressing and enjoy.

Layered Lentil Salad in a Jar

2 to 3 tablespoons Mustard Dressing (below) or favorite salad dressing
¼ cup thinly sliced fennel or celery, or a combination with a few fronds or leaves
¼ cup radishes (about 8), cut lengthwise in eighths
⅓ cup le Puy lentils, cooked, or garbanzo beans
3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, halved + 3 sliced Kalamata olives
½ baby zucchini, cut into spirals or shaved strips with a potato peeler
1-2 cups mesclun, or other lettuce blend
1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seed
Mustard Dressing (enough for 3- 4 servings)
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Spicy Brown or Grainy mustard
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper
⅓ cup olive oil

3-4 cup wide mouth Mason jar and/or
Pasta bowl or other large wide bowl

  1. To prepare dressing, combining vinegar, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper, then add the olive oil and whisk or shake until thorough incorporated.
  2. In a mason jar pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons dressing.
  3. Pack ingredients in individual layers in the order listed. Substitute similar items as desired, placing heavier, denser on bottom, followed by beans and proteins, then softer ingredients, and finish with lettuce or sprouts.  Serves 1.

Make Ahead Salad? Consider crunchy cabbage slaw

Cabbage is a wonderful thing, but it took me a long time to reach that conclusion.  It’s a caterer’s best friend, as well as anyone into recreational dining.  It is refreshing, adaptable, and holds very well.  Here’s a slaw that moves beyond the dull standard mayonnaise based variety.

If making ahead, the salting process and a slightly wider shred work well in maintaining crispness.  If not an issue, omit the salting and use a regular cut, adding 1/2 teaspoon salt to the dressing.  Crunchy slaw works in lieu of generic lettuce for many uses:  in sandwiches and wraps, on burgers, fajitas and tacos or as a default salad with barbecue and picnic fixings.

cabbage slaw
Broccoli Slaw Variation

Short of time? There are plenty of pre-cut packaged slaws that can be substituted in lieu of the cabbage and carrot; the new broccoli variations are worth checking out.

Cabbage Slaw with Lime Dressing

1 medium head of cabbage, without core, slice into 1/4-1/2″x2″ lengths
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 small carrot, peel and shred
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
4 green onion, chop
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seed, dice (or a dash cayenne in dressing)
Lime Dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
Black pepper, few grinds
2 tablespoon olive oil, to taste
Garnish: 1 large tomato, seeded and diced, optional


  1. Remove the core and any thick portions, slice the cabbage into 1/4-1/2″ x 2″ shred, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt to distribute evenly and place in colander or sieve. Let drain 30 minutes or longer.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients and set aside.
  3. Squeeze out any cabbage surface moisture and place in large bowl. Add the carrot, cilantro, green onion and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss evenly to coat.  Adjust seasoning, it should have a bite to it.  Chill and toss again before servings.  Top with fresh tomato if desired and serve.  Serves 5 or more.

A Lovely Bunch of Radishes

At the market recently a spectacular bunch of radishes caught my eye. They looked so freshly picked and perky—as if they had just been uprooted, given a quick rinse, and perched on the shelf.  These weren’t your typical tired little radishes, they were massive, brilliant globes of color ranging from white to deep magenta.

Easter Egg Radishes
Easter Egg Radishes

Their name, Easter Egg radish suits them well. I wondered, were these all show? Sometimes large varieties concentrate all their energy on producing size and can be bland, perhaps pithy. But, the price was right, so I took a gamble.

I couldn’t wait to head home and try one with a dusting of sea salt. Ah, yes, they were crunchy-crisp and mild—I immediately imagined them in a lentil salad made with firm, gorgeous le puys.

Once the lentils were cooked and cooled, about 30 minutes later, I added a drizzle of dressing and a smattering of fresh herbs, a handful of feta cheese, a little zip of preserved lemon (of course, you have some waiting in the fridge from the posting here), and folded in the chilled radishes.Lentil radish salad(870x1024)

Serve the salad at room temperature or lightly chilled. If made ahead and refrigerated, it will hold 2 to 3 days. It’s filling enough for a lazy light meal or in tandem with chilled shrimp or grilled salmon and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Lentil Radish Salad

2 cups cooked le puy lentils
1 cup sliced radishes, or cut into wedges
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 green onions, trimmed and sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs: any, or a combination of thyme, marjoram, parsley
1 tablespoon capers, or preserved lemon rind, well chopped
4 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Rinse 1 cup lentils and simmer in 2 cups water for 20 minutes until soft but still firm; drain and cool. Combine the dressing; whisk or shake well, and set it aside.
In a bowl combine all ingredients, add enough dressing to coat well, and toss lightly. Serve at room temperature or chill.  Serves 4 or more.

Get exotic: preserve lemons

Creating my own preserved lemons has been high on my to-do list for some time now.  Although there aren’t many components, it took me a while to get it together:  organic lemons, a fair amount of good quality sea salt, a suitable jar, and time is really all that is required. Lemons and Jar (480x640)

Preserved lemons, used in lieu of fresh lemons, are becoming more mainstream and often available in specialty markets.  In North African and South Asian cuisine, preserved or pickled lemons can age in salt for months to acquire their unique taste. My speedy version will be ready in about a month.  Lemons salted (480x640)After 1 week on the counter and another in the fridge, I couldn’t wait any longer and I tested my first lemon. The rind was soft with a mellow flavor.  Clearly, its growing intensity will echo throughout any dish when cooked.  In this case, the rind of only one lemon wedge was enough for a simple yet superb vinaigrette. Preserved lemons (640x480)

I’ll let the lemons continue to ripen for a couple more weeks and begin to include them in upcoming stews, one pot meals, and plenty of assorted grains and starches.

Preserved Lemons 

7 ripe medium organic lemons, rinse and trim ends
2/3 cup coarse sea salt, approximate
24 ounce canning jar or larger, sterilized
8 juniper berries


  1. Cut 6 lemons into 8 wedges each, and remove any obvious seeds. Fill each lemon with salt and place in the jar. Continue to press down the lemons and pack tightly into jar, distribute juniper berries evenly. Juice will be squeezed out of the lemons during the process, if it doesn’t cover the lemons, use the juice from the 7th lemon to fill the jar.
  2. Tighten the lid and let stand at room temperature for 7 days.  Each day, shake the jar to distribute the salt among the lemons.  Add more lemon juice if the lemons are not completely covered.
  3. After 7 days, drizzle a little olive oil over the lemons and store in refrigerator for 3 weeks longer, until skin is soft. Test after 2 weeks in refrigerator. Rinse the lemon before using and use the soften rind only.

To Waffle, Part 2: Easy Valentine’s Pizza

Here’s a follow-up to my last post… I actually bought a waffle iron.

I couldn’t shake the need to further explore the iron’s potential beyond making a waffle. My Black and Decker 3-in-1 has the benefit of non-stick reversible grids which switch from waffle to grill or press―even more applications (or justification).

What I discovered is that it works really well for pizza:  the little dimples in the crust create tiny crevices for pools of flavor to collect.Pizza Antipasto

I prefer baking off pizza dough in advance so that it is simply a matter of adding preferred toppings to the crust and popping it in the oven for a quick final bake.  There is also the benefit of personal sized pizzas, which make it perfect for parties, appetizers, a quick snack, or dinner.

In this case, I made the quick pizza dough I’ve previously mentioned here and let it rise until doubled―it is very malleable and can be rolled as thin as desired.  While the waffle iron preheated, I divided the dough into portions:  for my iron they were each less than 1 cup in size. I let the rounds set about 5 minutes to further relax the dough for an easier roll-out.  This goes so quickly I rolled out and baked one at a time.  Mine were about 6 1/2” in size to completely fit into the grill.

Once the iron was ready, I gave the grids a good spray with non-stick oil and laid the flat dough onto the grids and closed it.  It only took about 5 minutes for the dough to set and take on a slight amount of color; they were then cooled on a wire rack.   I did not need to re-spray my non-stick grids again and continued until all the crusts were pre-baked. I stored the cooled crusts in a loosely wrapped plastic bag until needed.

When ready to eat, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees and pulled out a baking sheet.  By the time the oven was preheated my toppings were prepared.  heart pizzaOne of my favorite combinations includes pesto sauce instead of the usual pizza tomato sauce.  Only a quick light spread across the top is all that is necessary.

I added a handful of each of my usuals:  sliced onion, slices of poblano or other spicy pepper, sliced baby tomatoes, a good handful of grated mozzarella, and a sprinkling of oregano and red pepper flakes.

The prepped pizza goes into the hot oven for a quick bake: about 6 – 7 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Once out of the oven, I finished my pizza with a final topping of antipasto salad:  spinach and arugula, sliced salami, pepperoncini, and black olives, all tossed with a garlicky vinaigrette.

Waffled Pizza

1 recipe pizza dough
Pesto Sauce or Pizza Sauce
Toppings of choice:  for example: sliced onion, spicy pepper, baby tomatoes, mozzarella or other melting cheese
Non-stick spray for waffle iron


  1. Prepare pizza dough. When doubled in bulk, punch down and cut into approx ¾ cup portions.  Lightly cover, and let rest about 5 minutes to relax dough.
  2. Preheat waffle iron, set to ‘waffles’; it should take 7 to 8 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out one round at a time to fit into the waffle iron, mine were about 6 ½” in diameter.
  3. When pre-heated, spray the grids lightly with non-stick spray and lay the rolled dough onto the hot surface. Close the lid and bake until dough is set and lightly colored but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. When set, remove to a cooling rack and repeat. If making ahead, cool and store light wrapped in plastic bag.
  5. To finish pizzas, preheat oven to 425 degrees, have a baking sheet ready.
  6. Assemble pizzas according to taste. Set on baking sheet and bake for approximately 6 – 7 minutes or until the crust is browned and the surface is bubbly.  Serve hot.  Yield:  6 or more pizzas.

Denver-Asian Strip Salad

A couple of posts back I shared an entertaining YouTube video from Eugenie Kitchen on How to Make Tamagoyaki, the Japanese omelette roll.  Turns out, it was the perfect intro and segue into a full-on version of an Asian salad I have been working on which incorporates the julienne omelette concept.

You could say this crazy ham-and-egg strip salad is a cross between the Denver Omelette, sans cheese, and an Asian soba noodle salad.

Soba 1 redux

I’ve taken the mighty Denver Omelette’s leading players of robust ham, pepper and onions and finessed them with exotic elements of ginger, baby bok choy, Thai basil and soba noodles, then draped them all in shimmering ginger-sesame vinaigrette.

The omelette theme is reintroduced via the tamagoyaki style egg strips studded with green onion and cilantro. Showcasing the egg strips as a stunning topper also serves to maintain their delicate integrity since excessive handling can break these beauties up unnecessarily.


soba salad with forkNow, that would be a crying shame.

Ham and Egg Strip Salad


Ham and Vegetables

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, flattened
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup ham, julienned (Canadian bacon is good)
  • 1 cup white onion, peeled and julienned
  • 1 cup red pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 1 cup poblano pepper, seeded and julienned (or other pepper with a bit of heat)


  • 8 oz. Soba noodles or other noodle of preference
  • 2 heads baby bok choy, washed, cut into lengthwise pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shaved into thin strips

Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce or dash tabasco
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or Chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Omelette Strips

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, total
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1 tbsp green onion, minced

2 tbsp Thai basil, minced plus garnish, 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted


  1. For the Vegetables  In a medium skillet heat the oil and garlic clove over medium heat and allow to become aromatic, for extra heat crushed red pepper flakes.  Add the ham and allow it to take on some color; remove the garlic.  Add the onion and peppers cooking briefly to soften the vegetables.  Set aside until needed.
  2. For the Noodle/Vegetables   Cook noodles according to package directions.  About 1 minute before being al dente, add the carrot strips and the bok choy to pot only long enough to shock the leaves and blanch the carrots.   Drain all and rinse with cool water.  Toss with a little vegetable oil if sticky.  Set aside until needed.
  3. For Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette  Combine the ginger, soy, sriracha and vinegar, whisk in the sesame and vegetable oil and adjust seasoning.  Make ahead at least 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
  4. For the Omelette Strips   Beat the eggs with water, add the salt, pepper, cilantro and green onion. Heat a 10” skillet brushed or sprayed with oil over medium-low heat.  Evenly pour about 1/3 cup of egg mixture into the pan, swirling to make a thin, even layer. When the edges begin to separate from pan, carefully lift with wide spatula and turn briefly to the other side.  Remove to flat surface, allow to cool briefly and firmly roll up.  Repeat process until all egg mixture is used up. When cool, slice the rolls into ½” or thinner spirals and unfurl into strips.  Set aside.
  5. To assemble  the Salad  In a large bowl, lightly toss the noodle mixture, and ham/vegetables with about half of the the vinaigrette and part of the minced Thai basil.  Toss with additional dressing if needed.    Arrange the salad on a large platter or individual bowls or dishes.  Top with the omelette strips, garnish with remainder of the basil leaves and sprinkle with sesame seeds.