This time of year we start making promises to ourselves. But maybe some resolutions are made to be broken. Or the breaking brings us a happy accident we hadn’t bargained for.
In honor of that kind of trickery, I guess I should call this an “unmake.” My best intention when her post first came out (paving the road to we know where) was to make Susan’s wonderful sounding recipe Broccoli Slaw Stir Fry with Tofu substituting mushrooms for the tofu, so I could have it soy free. Romeo and I even walked farther than we usually do on our second walk of the day so we could go to a grocery store on our end of town that carries the packages of slaw. It was a very windy Fall day right after Susan’s post; gold and yellow leaves still fluttered around us as we waited to cross a very busy intersection, me bundled up in my new Sherpa hoodie with a sweater underneath, Romeo standing regally in his blue service vest.
I really did think I was ferrying this package of broccoli slaw home in my backpack to make that stir fry. But when I set it out on the counter, the Call to Crunch summoned me.
Susan and I have joked about this before. She is an expert at ingeniously devising roasted sautéed ways to eat her salad, like Hot Skillet Salad or Ridiculously Easy Grilled Romaine Salad. These recipes sound really good to me, honest they do. I’ve made versions of Hot Skillet Salad when it’s really really cold here. But truth be told, each time I bought a head of romaine with the intention to grill it, I ate it all before I got the chance. I buy 5 pound bags of carrots and pull 3 or 4 larges ones out a day to munch on. Like a horse, I’ll eat out of your hand every time if you dangle a raw carrot or apple in front of me. I have watched the faces of friends try to compose themselves out of amazement (or horror?) as I wrap something in a big raw kale leaf and dig in.
So there it was. I couldn’t resist the thought bearing down on me that said: “Wouldn’t it be okay to make at least some of this a salad? I can make the stir fry with the rest of the package tomorrow.” And that was the beginning of the end of Stir-Fried Broccoli Slaw in my kitchen. The will to make the original recipe unraveled itself from there.
But the neat thing that came out of the unraveling was a simple and wonderful new slaw treatment. I can’t stop eating it for lunch or dinner, even if I don’t have an actual package of broccoli slaw. If that isn’t a complete post-modern “unmake(over)”, I don’t know what is. But I’ll let you decide.
Un-Stir-Fried Broccoli Slaw Salad
Fill your bowl with:
a fistful of broccoli slaw
another of chopped green cabbage, any kind
another of chopped red cabbage
another of julienned carrots
and a final one of something dark green (I used baby broccoli leaves from the plants in my garden, baby kale leaves, baby arugula, broccoli rabe, nasturtium leaves)
a quarter of an apple, sliced
other add ins:
sliced green onion
chopped cilantro or mint
some cooked diced Japanese sweet potato
The “un-dressing”* ingredients:
lime juice (a generous tablespoon)
(I do two capfuls from the bottle of organic lime juice since fresh organic limes are quite expensive here, and usually not very juicy by the time they arrive in northern Idaho)
1 tbs of white wine vinegar, or white balsamic or rice vinegar
(I used nasturtium infused white wine vinegar I made earlier in the summer)
1 teaspoon of Hoisin Sauce
a splash of red chili sauce
a shake of garlic granules
a shake of onion granules
*I didn’t bother to mix these ingredients up together. Instead I put them each in turn on top of my bowl full of veggies, then tossed it all together. And then I followed an admonition our local now famous “Farm Girl” Mary Jane Butters gave in the co-op newsletter long ago: “Eat your salad with a spoon.” It is the best way to get all the crunchy bits in their “undressed” glory.
And to unmake even my unmake a little further: a few days into eating this I realized the Hoisin Sauce has soy as primary ingredients. So I came up with a substitute that’s “almost” Hoisin sauce, at least in the neighborhood of taste. In a tiny bowl I mixed 1 tsp of date syrup, 1 tsp of coconut aminos and 1/8 tsp (or less) of peanut butter, and sprinkled that over the top instead of the “real” Hoisin Sauce.
And, as always, I add a teaspoon of ground golden flax to finish off the bowl.
So if you hear the Call to Crunch, “unmake” yourself a salad from that package of broccoli slaw waiting to get stir fried. And “unmake” the dressing by sprinkling each ingredient over your slaw.
Epilogue: a step back toward formalism (with a twist).
These last days of the year feature inches of snow on the ground and more falling. In early November the temperature dropped considerably and stayed below freezing with little to no snow. On the day I should have made an extra fire in the masonry stove, even I was forced to stir fry my salad, ever so slightly, until all the colors turned bright, but the texture still crunched. And I mixed the undressing together into a dressing before I poured it on the warm veggies. And I added rice. And sweet potato cubes. And I ate it all. Romeo is my witness.
A close reading of this bowl, and subsequent bowls of tossed or barely stir fried slaw through December, demonstrate a consistent post-modern contradiction: broccoli slaw has disappeared completely as an ingredient in the Broccoli Slaw That Never Got Stir Fried–But Sometimes Gets Ever So Slightly Warmed Up. Despite the absence of this originally essential ingredient, I still relish the unmade, remade crunchy goodness in every deconstructed bite. Once again, absence makes this salad-lover’s heart grow ever fonder.
Happy New Year!