When I was a kid, “Ten Treasure Salad” was my dad’s go-to summertime potluck dish. He cut the recipe out of the paper and it became, along with his tacos and spaghetti sauce, one of his signature dishes. I really don’t know how he came to be the one to come up with what we brought to cookouts, I imagine he got tired of all the potato salad and wanted something different. He also really liked to cook when he had the chance.
I loved this dish as a kid. I realize now it was because it was all my favorite things thrown together – snow peas, mushrooms, shrimp, broccoli, cauliflower and red bell peppers in a ginger soy dressing. Somehow my version has never quite tasted like I remember it, in part I know, because I throw tofu in for the chicken, although my marinated tofu has more flavor than the chicken ever could. I have played around with this recipe over the years and I think I finally came up with a version that rocks it. Among my substitutions:
Rice noodles for the rotini pasta
Teriyaki marinated tofu for chicken
Ginger soy salad dressing instead of the called for 1/4 cup soy sauce with 1/8 teaspoon ginger
Adding cilantro for an extra kick
Adding garlic, ginger and soy sauce when I saute the veggies
I whip up my own teriyaki sauce sauce based on a recipe from The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons sesame oil
I have learned that if you boil tofu for about 10 minutes or so, it firms up and holds marinades beautifully.
I use Twin Oaks tofu, which is pretty firm to start with. The longer it marinates, the more flavor it holds, so I will prep this in the morning or even sometimes a day ahead of time.
The Ginger Soy salad dressing is based on one I used to eat religiously at a restaurant that sadly, is no longer open. It was primarily a vegetarian smoothie place that had a nice salad bar I’d grab lunch from a few days week back before we had a kid and a mortgage and I could eat out every day. I loved their ginger soy dressing, I swore it was sprinkled with fairy dust that made it addictive. Here’s my version of it.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
pepper to taste
Now, for the salad. I throw in the following:
Snow peas or sugar snaps
Red Bell Pepper, cut into small strips
Scallions or Chives, chopped
Cooked noodles (I like pad thai type rice noodles)
I saute some of the vegetables in sesame oil with ginger and garlic. I start with the mushrooms and when they are slightly cooked I add the broccoli and cauliflower, also adding a touch of water/wine/broth to steam as well as soy sauce or salt. I stir fry that for a few minutes, then add the snow peas and shrimp. When the shrimp are done, I combine this mixture with the tofu, noodles and the remaining veggies (I like my carrots and peppers raw for a nice crunch), cilantro and about half of the ginger soy salad dressing.
This salad is good hot or cold. I find myself making early in the day during the summer, especially when I know it’s going to be hot out there. It keeps well for a few days, is a great addition to a potluck and you can mix up what you put in there. I’ve been known to substitute zucchini for the broccoli, regular peas for the snow peas, sometimes I’ll use a variety of mushrooms, sometimes I’ll just use regular button mushrooms. I imagine marinated chicken would be great in it as well.
Happy Summer Eating!