Late last night I found myself pondering, what do I have in the fridge? What could I possibly do with it? How can I jazz it up so that it tastes halfway decent? Lack of foresight and dubious food planning can sometimes force you to be creative. This yummy salad was the fruit of just such an occasion. Work lunches can be a challenge. Getting yourself organised in advance and following through on all your wonderful intentions can be the hardest thing. I’ll stock up my fridge, and I mean seriously pack it to the gunnels full of delicious ingredients in anticipation of the countless recipes I want to try, but my commitment wains as the days go by and the overwhelming temptation to pick something up en route takes control. I’m ashamed to say that often through nothing but sheer apathy I have wasted serious amounts of food. No more. I’ve decided to tackle my budgets and stop throwing money out with my kitchen bin.
After six months of a painful double whammy, namely seriously large food shop bills and money trickling away daily on the lunches or snacks I buy on the go, I’ve distilled it down to one key learning. Over ambition is the death of my success. I must come to terms with the truth and recognise that I will not cook with new ingredients every night. Rather, picking one new recipe, or tweaking something I already make, day in, day out, is the way to keep things interesting and to keep from tossing food in the bin at the end of the week. To this end, I’m trying to reduce my shop and create a variety of recipes around one or two key fresh ingredients. This week was the turn of the infinitely fashionable kale. A regular feature on any self-respecting health conscious menu, this ‘it’ leaf is a novelty in my kitchen. I’ve eaten it time and again out and about but with a bag in the fridge I began to think up what I could realistically use it for myself. In the spirit of eating up, I clocked that I’ve got a glut of carrots at the minute too, and some chicken breast so I improvised and this salad was the result. I’m quite pleased with it. The components are pretty cheap but the result is definitely one to add to my list of go-to packed lunches. Kale and Carrot Salad with Spicy Peanut and Ginger dressing (Serves 1)
- Kale, washed
- 1 carrot, chopped into fine sticks
- 1/3 tin chickpeas, drained
- 100g cooked chicken breast, chopped into chunks
- 30g cashews (salted/honey roasted are extra tasty but are, sadly, less healthy)
- Heaped teaspoon and a bit of peanut butter
- Small thumb size piece of ginger (depending on how much of a punch you like)
- 1½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Glug sesame oil
- ½ tbsp reduced salt soy sauce
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Chilli flakes to your taste (fresh would be better but I didn’t have any to hand)
- Liberal sprinkling of sesame seeds and any other seeds you if like (I used pumpkin)
Method Trim any chunky stems out of the kale leaves and chop very roughly. If you’re lucky enough to have a julienne peeler to hand use that, or if not, peel and chop the carrots into fine sticks. Roughly crush the cashews being sure to leave some chunks for added crunch. Add kale, carrot sticks, chickpeas to a bowl. Chop the ginger finely. Add all the condiments to a bowl with the ginger and peanut butter. Whisk with a fork until combined. Add the dressing to a bowl with the seeds and toss to coat evenly. P.S. You could very easily bump up the quantities to stockpile for a few packed lunches, that’s certainly what I’ve been doing.