Happy Sunday, friends. I appreciate your kind words about my mom’s boyfriend’s son — they meant the world to me.
So in my last post, I mentiond that I grew up eating a little differently from most of my Greek fam. They were carnivorous; red meat made me squirm. They liked their veggies cooked through; I liked mine crunchy. They liked dishes that were salty and heavily flavored; I liked my food plain. Of course, there were things we all agreed on: my Grandmother’s spaghetti (which, even though slathered in butter and made from white pasta, was quite tasty); my mom’s wonderful broccoli, made with tons of lemon and olive oil; giant salads, which adorned the table at every family meal, and which, as the resident veg-aholic, I was usually put in charge of; and, in later years, my vegan baked goods, which totally transformed my mom’s conception of vegan sweets and treats.
So while there were things we didn’t all agree on — such as lamb, and the 101 uses my Yaya found for it — we did agree on a bunch of things. One of our main areas of unison was this: there were lots of mainstream American foods we didn’t know much about, and hadn’t tried. I don’t think I ever tasted a sugary cereal growing up. I had my first soda at the ripe old age of ten (ripe, sadly, by mainstream standards). There were no hot pockets or pop tarts at home, no chips or cheetos or even oreos. This doesn’t mean our pantry was perfect: there were other things, like spray margarine and Lean Cuisine, that were, in retrospect, pretty foul. But we were fairly cut off from the cornucopia of processed food that is the American supermarket.
More than that, there were lots of classic American dishes that we never grew up eating. Sure, my Mom made the usual sorts of comfort food dishes on occasion — veggie pot pie, for example, or tuna casserole — but most of our food was Mediterranean in flavor: grilled fish, chicken or zucchini broiled with lemon and tomatoes; pasta with pesto and veggies. And because that’s what we ate at home, that’s usually what we ate when we went out to restaurants, too. So there were tons of restaurant offerings that remained mysterious to me well into my adult years.
One of these was “surf and turf.” Believe it or not, I was twenty the first time I learned what this was, vacationing in a hotel with my father and his family. It sounded like such a fun dish, until I learned what it was: a side-by-side offering of steak and seafood, oftentimes fried. To me, that reeked of an animal protein overdose. Needless to say, it’s not a dish I’ve ever tried — I’d guess that many women haven’t — but the name has always amused me.
This weekend, I found myself with a pantry full of dwindling bags of sea veggies. You know, bags that have less than a real portion left, but are taking up space while I wait to finish them off. I thought I’d whip up some seaweed salad. As I contemplated that prospect, I also realized I had a portobello cap in my fridge that I hadn’t found a good use for yet. Portobellos, of course, are often called upon to represent “meatiness” in a vegan meal. And sea vegetables are just the closest I’ll get to touching fish. So with these two components at the ready, I decided to try my hand at my own version of “surf n’ turf” — vegan, raw, and healthful.
This salad is wonderful. Really. It’s salty, savory, and fun to eat. Mix the seaweed around with the kale and mushrooms, and you’ll happen upon lovely, intermittent pockets of flavor. Mushrooms, along with my hempesan, provide an earthiness, while the seaweed gives it a delicate and salty touch. The kale, meanwhile, is crunchy and a great contrast to the rest of the meal.
Note: every time I post a sea veggie recipe, someone asks if there’s a substitute to be had, since he or she hates seaweed. Sorry guys: the sea-veggie flavor is a fundamental component to this dish. So if you’re not into dulse or wakame, I’d say you’ll be missing out!
Gena’s Surf n’ Turf Salad (serves one VERY hungry person)
1/2 bunch curly kale
1/3 cup each: shredded carrot, cabbage, zucchini
7 grams (or so) each: wakame, dulse, arame
1 portobello cap
3-4 tbsp hempesan
1 1/2 + 1 tbsp olive or hemp oil (separated)
2 tbsp nama shoyu
1 + 2 tbsp lemon juice (separated)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1) The night before eating: mix 1 1/2 tbsp olive or hemp oil, 2 tbsp lemon, 2 tbsp nama shoyu, and 1 tsp sesame oil together. Slice portobello and submerge it in the marinade, leaving it overnight.
2) The next day, remove mushroom from marinade, storing it in the fridge. Reserve the marinade.
3) Soak your seaweed (wakame, dulse, arame) in water for at least 1-2 hours. Rinse. Transfer the seaweed to your leftover marinade, and let it soak for at least an hour. When it’s done, remove seaweed and place it in a sieve; press gently to squeeze out excess marinade. Discard the marinade that’s left, or save it for something you’ll marinade right away; there should still be quite a bit of it.
4) Wash, rinse, spin, and chop the kale. Place it in a large bowl with the carrot, cabbage, and zucchini, and then massage the whole thing with 1 tbsp lemon, 1 tbsp hemp or olive oil, a salt and pepper to taste. Add a little drizzle of agave if you’d like to. Set aside.
5) Top the kale salad with half of the seaweed (you can save the other half for another meal!) and the mushroom. Sprinkle 3-4 tbsp hempesan over the whole thing.
6) Dinner is served.
Talk about treasures from land and sea. This salad is packed with nutrients: rich in iodine, vitamin K, folate, and B vitamins from the sea veggies; vitamins A + K, iron, and calcium from the kale; and protein, essential fatty acids, and more B vitamins from the hempesan, not to mention additional fatty acids if you use hemp oil.
In other words, this salad is a whole lot more nourishing than the fried, butter slathered original dish — at least in my book. So the next time the CEO of your company waxes poetic about the steak+lobster plate at a business dinner, you can smile inwardly, confident that you’ve got an even healthier alternative up your sleeve.
Hope you all get a chance to make this one soon!
Before I go, a lil’ giveaway for you all! I’m sure quite a few of you have seen giveaways for a $50 shopping spree on iHerb already. Well, I’m joining the bandwagon: Abby, over at iHerb, was kind enough to offer me a sample shopping spree of my own ($50 worth) and an additional giveaway to one of my lucky readers! What’s iHerb? It’s a no fuss, no gimmicks online supplement store, featuring everything from “superfoods” to baking goods that are allergy friendly. Other stuff that makes iHerb special:
1) 95% of Orders placed before 1 pm, PST, ship the same day.
2) Free Domestic UPS Ground Shipping for Orders over $40
3) Free International Airmail Shipping for Orders over $60 and 3 lbs or less
4) They sell products for up to 50% off suggested retail prices
5) They carry close to 19,000 products that include vitamins, herbal supplements, health food and personal care items
What did I purchase in my shopping spree? I picked up some of my fave MegaZymes enzymes; some almond flour, which I’ve been meaning to try out; and some probiotics. Basically, my supplements of choice. The items arrived almost immediately, which was a major plus!
If you’d like a chance to pick up some goodies on iHerb, here’s the deal:
1) Leave a comment on this post, saying one supplement or product you might like to try
2) For an additional entry, tweet the contest or link to it on your blog, and tell me you did
That’s it! Winner will be announced next Monday, May 10th. In the meantime, if you simply can’t wait to shop on iHerb, go ahead and use the code UGE458 at checkout, which will get you a $5 discount.
And finally, before I go, Diana recently reminded me that I forgot to announce a winner to my Sun in Bloom giveaway. D’oh!!! I’ve been so distracted lately. The winner of a complimentary entree at Sun in Bloom is #59 — my friend and soon to be hot mama Lauren!!!! I am so happy to pass this on to her. Congrats, Lauren! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the restaurant.
OK, kids. I’ve got lots to do this Sunday. For now, peace!