Growing up, my mother always put a well-balanced meal on the table including at least: one protein, one starch, two vegetables and a salad. My mom didn't make casseroles. Nor one-pot dinners. Each night, she made five different dishes. I didn't know I was spoiled. I just assumed that everyone ate this way.
That is until I started having dinner at my "American" friends' houses. I'd scratch my head when their moms would put one big bowl of pasta on the table and think, "Well, where's the rest?"
Yes, I was a spoiled child when it came to food. Now that I'm an adult, I still like preparing a well-balanced meal with a protein, starch, a couple of veggies and a salad. You would think that Mr. Stranded would be thrilled to have a variety of things to eat each night, but oddly enough, nope. He complains that it's too much food and all my cooking is making him pack on the pounds. Please - gimme a break. The boy is still ripped and I look like an umpa lumpa in comparison. No, it's not that. Is it that he doesn't want to wash the pots and pans afterwards? That's more likely.
Either way, as much as I've tried cutting down my side dishes, I'm still having a hard time. How can I possibly cut out vegetables and salad? They're the healthiest part of our meal. But protein is necessary to build lean muscles and help us stay full. And who doesn't enjoy a nice starch? Oh, the challenges I face!
So, I've become crafty and have started incorporating at least two veggies into my starch. So to Mr. Stranded, it looks like we're only having a protein, one side and a salad, but I'm still getting all the food groups into our meal.
Remember the other night when I made Horseradish-Crusted Salmon? I served this Cucumber-Asparagus Soba Noodle Salad as a side. In the time it took to cook the salmon, I prepared the Soba Noodle Salad and side salad, and dinner was done! There was minimal clean-up and no complaining out of you-know-who.
Cucumber-Asparagus Soba Noodle Salad Recipe
Yields: 2 servings
7 oz soba noodles (approx)
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off, cut into 1" pieces at a diagonal
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp mirin
1-1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp sugar1 tsp red pepper flakes
1. Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
2. In the meantime, bring water to a boil in a large rimmed pan. Salt water and add asparagus pieces. Cook for 3 minutes or until tender-crisp. Rinse under cold water.
3. Combine garlic through red pepper flakes in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
4. In a large bowl, combine soba noodles, asparagus pieces, cucumber and dressing. Toss well and serve.