Szechuan Noodle Salad

This past weekend, I went home.

Home being the town I grew up in for 18 years, Campbell River. I returned for an unprecedented event in any good students life, the high school reunion. This was our first, the ten year. I even helped organize, despite my natural inclination to run as far and as fast as I can from anything to do with high school.

I hated high school. It was the bane of my existence. All my friends were either a grade behind or ahead of me and therefore not in any of my classes, I was 60 lbs. overweight, I had zero fashion sense and I was utterly and debilitatingly shy (I think I made up a word there…).

I did everything I could to avoid school, taking the bare minimum of classes to pass and get into university. By my last year in school I was only carrying two classes a day. I was depressed and I wanted out.

The minute I graduated, I felt a freedom I had never known. I broke up with my boyfriend (who was from another high school), packed my bags and moved to Victoria, BC. I was finally free from under the thumb of that horrible institution.

So after ten years, why would I go back and face all those people who I hated the most? Because I know now that a lot of my resentment came from within. Yes, there was a certain amount of bullying and hardship brought on by others, but mostly it was my own inability to overcome my feelings of inadequacy. So I returned to face my demons, and man was it a good time.

Returning to the city where I grew up with my own family in tow was just awesome. I got to show them all the great stuff and amazing beauty in my little town. All my relatives have moved away from there, so we stayed in a beautiful condo by the beach. It was just beautiful. We ate seafood every night and downed some of the best cheesecake I’ve ever had in my life.

I know a lot of people don’t often go to their 10 year high school reunions, or even any of them for that matter. But it is something everyone should do in my opinion. You might actually meet someone you never knew, or they quite possible have changed into much greater people (we all have growing up to do between high school and adult hood).

My favourite thing of all was waking up every morning to the site of a huge group of adolescent bald eagles feeding on the beach right in front of our condo. The last morning we were there, I snuck down to the beach at 5:30am and snapped some shots.

 

After a weekend of seafood and cheesecake, i was ready to get back on the health (and budget) bandwagon. So I decided that we will be having vegetarian week. Mostly salads, given my penchant for them. I am trying a clean eating sort of plan. Lots of fibre and healthy vegetables and low in calories. This salad (including dressing) clocks in at less than 300 calories. Perfect for those who eat six meals a day. If you aren’t one of those people and you need a to fluff it up a bit, any protein would be a great match with the flavours going on here. For less of a kick, reduce the sriracha to 1/4 tsp.

One Year Ago: Fresh Dolmades with Tangy Yogurt Sauce

Two Years Ago (My first post! Be nice…): Chewy Tarts with Orange Vanilla Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

Szechuan Noodle Salad

Yield: Two servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 minutes

For the Dressing:
1 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1/2 tsp sriracha chili sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
juice of one lime
1 tsp fish sauce
1/4 cup minced cilantro

For the Salad:
1 cup shelled English peas, fresh or frozen
14 oz shirataki noodles, drained
2 cups spinach leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 an avocado, cubed
4 radishes, chopped

Optional toppings for those that would like a little more “oomph”:

Chicken breasts
Flank, skirt or hanger steak
Pork shoulder steak
Prawns or shrimp
Crab
Tofu

1. For the Dressing: Mix all of the above in a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes to mellow and allow the flavours to come alive.

2. For the Salad: If using fresh peas, steam or boil them for about 3 minutes or until just barely done. Cool and set aside. If using frozen, simply run under hot water until completely defrosted.
3. Rinse the drained shirataki noodles for 2 minutes under running water (Do not skip this step, it eliminates that “funky” smell they have). Cook in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and drain. Run cold water over until they are just warm. Toss half the dressing with the drained noodles.
4. On two plates, arrange the spinach and arugula. Divide the dressed noodles between the two plates.
5.  Top with the remaining salad ingredients and the remaining dressing. Serve immediately.

Similarly delicious food from other fabulous food blogs:

Szechuan Roasted Chicken on Rasa Malaysia
Szechuan Spice-Rubbed Pork on Leite’s Culinaria
Homemade Szechuan Chili Oil on Almost Bourdain
Grilled Szechuan Shrimp and Vegetables on Kalyn’s Kitchen
Szechuan Fry Bread on Weird Combinations

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