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Hi, I'm Pantry Raid

Otherwise known as Carrie Rowe & Diana Schmidt, we're well fed, thrifty and have more than meals falling from our pantries.   Diana is a recovering food snob who is always anticipating her next meal. She thinks a good pantry should give you...
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Pantry Raid

Salad is Sometimes Awesome

Pantry Raid
Soon dinner will be falling from your pantries too. By Pantry Raid on January 12, 2011

 

Dear salad,

We love you. Thanks for being so awesome sometimes.

Your winter pals,

Diana & Carrie

 

Cravings are funny. In the summer, we have to try extremely hard to diversify a beer and ice cream diet while every year around this time we both get stupid for salad. Pretty sure the gray days and abundance of root vegetables rolling around our pantries are the cause, making our need for something that reminds us of sunshine pretty insatiable. The only hurdle is, we hate making salad. Stir cream until it turns to caramel, no problem. Can our own tomatoes in 108 degree whether, you bet. Prep salad? We rather clean the toilet, thanks. But there’s something about winter that prods us into taking on salad making with newfound enthusiasm, especially when it’s as tasty as what we’re talking here.

 

It all started a few years ago when we climbed over a snow bank on Silver Spring Drive to enter the balmy green houses of Growing Power. For a meager donation, we were able to tour the greenhouses and see how the salad mix, that our co-op was selling, were grown. We’re not complete city slickers, thanks to our dads, Carrie grew up with chickens and other farm animals at her feet while some of Diana’s first words were “organic” and “compost” – but we had never imagined it possible to have Wisconsin-grown lettuce in the middle of January. Rows and rows hanging above of rows of greens and sprouts made us both hungry and thankful, for living so close to such genius. You can see what we saw by visiting Outpost’s youtube channel or stop in at Growing power for their weekly tour.

 

We hear from our produce managers that Outpost is working with Sweet Water Organics to start offering their salad greens year round – another Milwaukee urban farm located on Robinson avenue in Bay View. Seriously. Two options for Milwaukeeans to have local salad while the snow piles up outside our doorsteps? We’re crazy lucky, every single one of us.

 

Whether your salad greens are from down the street or California, there is no reason to deny the craving when it comes to you (maybe eating salad is more typical at your house than at ours?) Until the weather warms up and our ice cream scoops chase away the salad tongs, we'll be trying to eat as much salad as we can stand making.

 

Salad Greens with Pan Fried Tofu

Serves 4

We learned how to make this particular tofu from our pal Barb who owns Simple Soyman, here in Milwaukee. It’s great thrown into stir fries, made into strips and dipped into any sauce that a kid might dunk a chicken nugget into or truly, it’s great plucked from the pan before you’ve even figured out what else is for dinner. It’s flexible function makes it great for turning salad into a meal by adding some much needed protein to our piles of lettuce. Serve this salad with sliced avocado, peppers – whatever your salad bin offers up. For you visual learners, watch Barb make the tofu here.

 

1 pound firm tofu (we use Bountiful Bean/Simple Soyman)

1 tablespoon soy oil (olive, canola or butter are great too)

2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 – 2 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos also work)

 

1. Slice the block of tofu into 1/2 -3/4 inch slabs and place on a smooth towel with another smooth towel over the top (we use flour sack towels, don’t use terrycloth, paper towels are okay). On top of that, place a cutting board to weigh down the tofu and extract some of the liquid. Putting a heavy bowl or pot on top of the cutting board will remove more liquid, which we like to do. Let sit for about 20 minutes and cut into cubes or triangles.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the tofu in a single layer to the pan. Let the tofu braise about 5-8 minutes total, turning to add color to all sides. The tofu is done when the sides are a golden yellow color.

3. With the heat still on, sprinkle the nutritional yeast all over the tofu, stirring to coat. We like a generous amount, leaning more towards the 1/4 cup amount, but 2 tablespoons will do the trick too.

4. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burned while you sprinkle on the tamari, stirring to coat all the sides. We’ve never actually measured out the tamari – but it looks like about a tablespoon, just to lightly coat the tofu and make the nutritional yeast stick. Remove from the pan and serve alongside your salad for a protein-y delicious dinner.

 

Sara’s Citrus Salad 

Serves 4

Diana’s friend Sara doesn’t fancy herself a whiz in the kitchen, although Diana strongly disagrees. Testament to her kitchen prowess is this salad, which captures everything delicious about winter in Milwaukee in one big bowl. When you don’t have any of Sara’s fixins’ in the house, like for instance when you’re blogging about it, go ahead and substitute in almonds, green onion and avocado for the pecans, cranberries and blue cheese, it’s equally delicious. Thanks for the recipe, Sara, you’re our salad Yoda

 

4 cups Salad Greens, washed, dried and torn into bite size pieces

1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 orange, pith removed, cut into sections

1/2 cup pecans, toasted

1/2 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup citrus dressing (recipe below)

 

1. Prepared your salad greens and toss into a large mixing bowl with everything except the pecans, butter and citrus dressing.

2. Sauté the pecans in butter over a medium heat until the pecans are golden. (We had never thought of this genius step before, silly us not using butter to toast our salad nuts. Pretty sure this toasting method is why we love this salad so much.) Let the pecans cool slightly before adding to the salad bowl.

3. Toss with the citrus dressing just before serving.

 

Citrus dressing

 

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

 

1. Combine the orange juice, vinegar and shallot in a medium mixing bowl.

2. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion (when the oil and vinegar/juice become one).

 

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