Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

One of my wife’s favorite dishes is, well at least that I make, probably my garlic noodles that are infused sesame oil. This dish is also one that is one of my go to dishes when I go to a get together. Not only are those super easy to make, but everyone tends to love them. Let’s just say the bowl is always empty. I typically only make that dish when the mint in my backyard is in abundance, so typically late spring through early fall.

This dish however kind of stems from this recipe, but I wanted something a bit more hearty, and something that I knew everyone in my family would love, but with a couple of different twists. This is what I am coining as my loaded garlic noodle pasta salad.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

This recipe packs in the flavor, texture, and is a great main course.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced 
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Korean fermented bean paste
  • generous pinch of kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 bundle bean thread noodles, soaked in hot water until slightly tender
  • 1 bag of bun bo hue noodles, or a thick pasta like a bucatini, cooked before al dente
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked and chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups of spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 2 whole carrots, shredded
  • 1 small can of bamboo shoots
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup of frozen broccoli florets, slightly thawed
  • 1/2 cup of chow mein noodles
  • Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced (optional)
  • An appetite

Start by mixing all of your sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, and set it to the side.

Next, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the half of the oil, and bring to heat. Give the skillet a swirl, then add in the chicken breasts. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, the remove from the skillet and let them cool. Once cool, chop them up. If you see a little pink, don’t worry as we will finish in the next step.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

Once your noodles are cooked al dente, make sure both of them are drained and ready to go. This is almost like a stir fry so everything is going to go a bit quickly.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet (make sure it is large enough to hold everything) on medium heat. Toss in the garlic, giving a good stir, and and cook for a couple of minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add in the chopped chicken, and half of the sauce. Swirl around and cook for about 3 minutes or so. Next toss in the thick noodles, give a good toss, and make sure the garlic and sauce coat the chicken. Cook for an additional few minutes.  Next add in the broccoli, and give that a good toss. Add the beaten eggs, and stir. This almost creates a creamy sauce that everyone loved.

To a large serving bowl, add the carrots, bamboo shoots, peanuts, sesame seeds, bean thread noodles, and spinach. Give that a good toss.

Add the remaining sauce to the skillet, and using tongs or your tossing skills, make sure everything is nicely incorporated. Cook for another minute.

Add the noodle mixture to the mixed up serving bowl, and use those tongs to incorporate everything together. This can take a minute or two.

Now you are ready to serve. I keep the chow mein noodles and sliced chilies on the side for those that want additional texture, and heat.

The end result is well, how do I put it? Let’s just say no one spoke for about 3 minutes as their faces were looking down and slurping noodles. Then everyone came up for air and began questioning everything in the salad, and stating how awesome it was. This serves a small army, probably 12 people, and is great for leftovers, warm, or cold. What’s not to love about that, right? Hope you enjoy!

Nam Prik Kapi

Many of you may or may not have heard of Nam Prik Kapi. I was introduced to this funky Thai spicy shrimp paste dip years ago so I thought I would share it with you. Some of these ingredients may be foreign to you, especially the Thai shrimp paste (and trust me this stuff is funky but awesome).

Nam Prik Kapi Recipe
Nam Prik Kapi Recipe

The ingredients are minimal, but the flavor impact is something out of this world. A pestle and mortar works best for this, and I have not tried using a food processor, but feel free if you decide to make this recipe.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 15-20 Thai bird chili peppers, stems removed
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar (or light brown sugar if you do not have any)
  • 3 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
  • 2 whole shallots, skins removed, lightly chopped

As with many Thai dishes, you need to balance out the sour, spice, and bitterness. This one uses 20 Thai chilies, which if you can imagine is going to make it pretty spicy, but that’s how I like it. The goal here is to come up with a light and loose paste, nothing majorly thick.

Start by pounding your garlic, chilies, and shallots in a mortar and pestle. Your goal is to make a paste. This is the labor intensive part, as it takes about 10-15 minutes and will use some arm strength. Once you have a paste, add the shrimp paste and palm sugar, and continue pounding. I find it best to use a spoon along with the pestle to lift from the bottom and keep pounding.

Nam Prik Paki Recipe
Nam Prik Paki Recipe

The final step is to add the juice of the limes. Add enough lime juice to ensure a loose paste. Add more lime juice if you have to.

Now taste and adjust. It will be spicy. It will be tangy. It will be a bit funky.

Serve this alongside fried fish, omelettes, or lightly steamed vegetables. This stores nicely as well, and a little goes a long way. If you are looking for something new to try, give this one a shot. It’s probably one of Thai’s more famous dipping sauces. Hope you enjoy!

 

Caldo Verde

Caldo verde essentially translates to green broth, or in my case one delicious Portuguese soup. I have kind of made it a mission to make soup once a week, however I should probably make it a few times a week, but there are really only three of us soup eaters in the family at this point in time. Typically when I make soup, it tends to feed an army and hence why I probably only make it once a week. Caldo verde is loaded with awesomeness. It is essentially a soup made with greens, chicken stock, and typically some smoked sausage. I actually jazz mine up a bit adding a bit of bacon, and a handful of beans, but that kind of breaks some of that traditional soup, so those are optional if you are wanting to make it.

Caldo Verde Soup Recipe
Caldo Verde Soup Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 2 russet potatoes, peel and cut into cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 7 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 ring of smoked sausage (I used kielbasa) sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • handful of red beans, optional
  • salt to taste
  • a good loaf of crusty bread

Start by getting a large pot, or dutch oven heating on medium heat.

Add in the olive oil, garlic, shallots, and onion. Cook for about 7 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary, just to sweat the onions. Next add in the russet potatoes and chicken stock, and cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Ingredients for making Caldo Verde
Ingredients for making Caldo Verde

Once the potatoes are tender, ladle this mixture into your blender. Please note that whenever you are adding hot stuff into a blender, do not fill it all of the way up, and always use a towel to cover the top lid. Pressure builds up doing this and I would not want you having hot soup all over your kitchen!

Blend the mixture into a smooth consistency. Do this in batches if you have to. Once you have a smooth mixture, return it back to the pot on the stove. Add the beans if you are using them. Bring the soup to a medium-low heat, and during this time cooke your bacon. I like to add in the sliced kielbasa as well when cooking the bacon to get it a bit crisp.

Add the kielbasa, cooked and crumbled bacon, Yukon potatoes, and ribbons of collard greens to the soup, and cook until the potatoes are for tender. Season with any salt, to taste, if you desire.

Ladle into your soup bowls, keep your head down, and dig in! This soup is super comforting and perfect on any winter day. Serve with some nice rustic bread for dipping and repeat! Enjoy.

Dill Pickle Soup

I was first introduced to Dill Pickle Soup over a year ago at one of Milwaukee’s annual, ethnic festivals, Polish Fest. If you have never been to Milwaukee, please come from June-August as there are so many fun things to do, including an ethnic festival that takes over a major downtown park every week. The one we went to was Polish fest. I have no idea why, as none of us our Polish, but I wanted to give my kids a glimpse into some of their culture, plus I knew they would love a Polish sausage, which would lure them into a couple of attractions. For me, well, it was to try new things, and things I would typically not run into on a regular basis. That’s when I saw dill pickle soup.

Dill Pickle Soup Recipe
Dill Pickle Soup Recipe

At first glance of those words, I thought there is no freaking way this is going to be good, but hey, it’s worth a try. So as I ordered sausages for my kids, and something else for my wife, I went all in and dove into this cup of dill pickle soup. At first glance it looks like a vegetable soup, then when sticking my nose to the rim of the cup, I could smell that dill flavor coming through. Don’t get me wrong, I love pickles, especially dill pickles, but in soup? What were these Polish folks thinking? It’s soup season in Wisconsin (yes, it’s currently -6 degrees), and I figured this one would warm the soul.

Let’s get started.

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 whole carrots, trimmed, and finely diced (I used my food processor)
  • 1 whole leek, cleaned, thinly diced (I used my food processor)
  • 1 whole russet potato, peeled, and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 5 cups of chicken stock, low sodium
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups of dill pickle juice
  • 4 dill pickle spears, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • Some good crusty bread, optional

Sounds great already, and trust me it is.

Start by getting your soup pot on the stove. Add in your butter, on medium-high heat, and let that melt down. Toss in your carrots, leeks, jalapeno, and potatoes, and give that a good stir. Continue to stir for about 3-5 minutes.

Dill Pickle Soup Ingredients
Dill Pickle Soup Ingredients

Next, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat, and bring to a simmer. Check on your potatoes from time to time, and once they are knife tender, add in the pickle juice, pickles, Old Bay, salt, and pepper.

Give that a good stir. Now, to a small bowl, add the water, sour cream, and flour. Whisk until you have a smooth mixture. This will be a small thickening agent for the soup, plus it gives a bit of great, mild sourness from the sour cream.

After a few minutes, take your whisk, and your sour cream mixture, and slowly begin whisking it into the soup. Keep whisking throughout the process. Once all of the sour cream mixture is in the pot, give another good whisk, then cover, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Dill Pickle Soup Recipe
Dill Pickle Soup Recipe

Now you are ready to serve. Ladle into your soup bowl, or cup, and dig in.

What were these Polish folks thinking? I’ll tell you what, they were thinking that this bowl of soup would be nothing but delicious. Again, at first glance you think it is vegetable soup, but when bringing the soup spoon closer, you get that mild dill pickle aroma, with the subtle taste when spooning it in. My daughter, who ‘can’t stand’ pickles, at her bowl of soup. I was surprised, and upon her first or second bite she asked ‘are there pickles in this?’, and I said yes, she kept her face down, her bread dunked, and kept at it.

If you are skeptical, give it a try. My neighbors brought over a bear soup yesterday, and I traded up with my dill pickle soup. He, being Polish, had never had this type of soup, so it will be interested to get his take on it, once I see him after it begins to warm up in the great white north. Enjoy!