Days like today make it hard to be productive. Things I had planned, like cleaning my pots and pans and sewing my yukata, quickly fell by the wayside in favor of ice tea and walking outside with friends. It's that beautiful time right before it gets too hot to enjoy being outdoors, and I need no arm-twisting to get outside.
The sunshine also makes me not want to spend much time in the kitchen. Specifically, I want to avoid any and all heat that might ruin the perfect windows-open breeze I've got going on up in here. These early summer days are just begging for a little something I've dubbed the Matchstick Salada (which is, literally, how you say 'salad' in Japanese. Sa-la-da. except the "l" kind of sounds like an "r." Sa-ra-da).
It requires no heat (provided you are like me and keep a couple hardboiled eggs stashed in your fridge) and takes all of 5 minutes to make, which is important, as my first order of business after making this is to sit on my balcony and watch the clouds move. This salad is fresh and light, and tastes fantastic with mugicha, which is my drink of choice. Don't take my word for it though. Given the weather, I think you should try it out for yourself.
Ja-mericanized* from Smitten Kitchen's Broccoli Slaw and Harumi Kurihara's Mixed Salad with Sesame Dressing
You can use any fresh, hearty vegetables you'd like for this salad. I've been relying on carrots and broccoli, though I think bell peppers, red onions, or radishes could work quite nicely. Sometimes I do all broccoli, sometimes all carrots, sometimes almonds, sometimes sesame seeds. This is my favorite type of salad because it seems to taste great no matter what I throw in it.
I use a bottled sesame seed dressing, only because my little grocery store doesn't seem to carry tahini. I've included Harumi's recipe for the dressing, simply because I don't think most 'sesame dressings' in the West are very good. This is a thick dressing, not a vinaigrette, m'kay? And it's awesome. On everything.
For the salad:
2-3 good sized carrots
1 small head broccoli
Big handful of craisins
Big handful of sesame seeds
Good helping of sesame seed dressing
2 hardboiled eggs (optional)
For the dressing:
2 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (or sugar)
salat and chili pepper to taste
Wash and peel the carrots. Using a sharp knife, julienne and place in a medium sized salad bowl. Wash broccoli, chop off the stem, and slice thinly. The florets will crumble and be a right mess. Totally okay. Toss into the salad bowl with the carrots. Take a handful or two of craisins (or other dried fruit) and toss on top of the vegetables, along with a good amount of sesame seeds or sliced almonds (or both if you are really living on the edge). These are your 'crutons,' so don't be stingy. If this salad is going to be a main dish on it's own, peel the eggs, and add to bowl.
If you are making the dressing by hand, simply mix all the ingredients together. If it's too thick, add water to adjust. Drizzle sesame dressing on the salad, and gently toss. Each carrot stick should be lightly coated, and there should be enough seeds for crunch and enough fruit to slightly sweeten. You can eat it straight away, or let it mellow in the fridge for a bit. This salad goes great as a side dish, or scooped onto a piece of toast with mustard for a open-faced sandwich of sorts. It also works well in a bento or eaten on a picnic with a nice glass of white wine. Awwwww, yeah.
* Jamerican = Japanese + American. Also related: Westernese (Western + Japanese)