Japanese Cucumber Salad

Japanese Cucumber Salad is a perfect side dish to sushi, teriyaki chicken, miso, and other Japanese meals! This cooling cucumber salad is a bright combination of mild vinegar, sweet coconut sugar, deep toasted sesame oil, and salty tamari (or soy sauce). It’s the perfect complement to my simple teriyaki chicken, homemade sushi, miso soup, or any Japanese food!

Eating a Japanese style meal doesn’t mean stuffing your face with white rice (though white rice can certainly be an important part of it). I’ve enjoyed reading more about the traditional Japanese food culture, which often included eating small plates of a wide variety of foods. It’s a beautiful tradition that allows a wide variety of flavors and nutrition! It was also often full of lots of veggie sides – like this cucumber one! When I take the extra time to make a simple veggie side or two, it makes the meal so much better – more satisfying and fun to eat too! This cucumber salad tastes a lot like ones we’ve been served at sushi restaurants. It has a balance of salty, sweet, sour, and umami. Yum.

I used  (#affiliate links) raw coconut vinegar in mine, which is nutritious raw fermented vinegar that is lighter than the raw apple cider vinegar I tend to use. You can use apple cider vinegar, but may want to sweeten it a little more since it is so powerful. Traditionally, rice wine vinegar was used, which is mild and perfect for so many Asian dishes. I’d recommend that as well. Also, make sure you use toasted sesame oil, not untoasted. Toasted sesame oil adds a lot of nutty flavor, while untoasted is used as a cooking oil. This is the brand I used.

If you enjoy cucumber salads, try out this cucumber and red onion salad as well.

Japanese Cucumber Salad
 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 med/large cucumber, or two small
  • ¼ cup vinegar (rice wine vinegar, coconut vinegar, raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (for gluten-free) or soy sauce
  • Optional for garnish: Toasted sesame seeds and/or nori flakes
Instructions
  1. About a half an hour before eating peel the cucumber(s) and cut in half lengthwise and seed. (Read out to seed a cucumber here.) Using a sharp knife, slice thinly into half moons. Put aside in a bowl. You should have about two cups worth.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, coconut sugar, toasted sesame seed oil, tamari or soy sauce. Pour over cucumbers, and gently toss. Place, covered, in the refrigerator, and let chill for about 20 minutes. The vinegar is the first to be absorbed by the cucumbers, but as the minutes pass, the cucumbers will pick up on the sweetness and saltiness of the other ingredients. Toss once or twice, if you have the chance, while it chills. When ready to serve, toss again, and feel free to adjust the flavors if needed. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and/or nori flakes, and serve.

 

My Favorite Gluten Free Noodle Brands

My favorite gluten-free noodles! Lots of good options here #glutenfree #noodles
We love noodles around here. We love noodles dishes inspired from Italy, Thailand, Japan, and many others as well. While not the most nutrient dense of all foods, they do provide an excellent platform for nourishing sauces, and provide extra motivation for eating soups (we love noodles soups, as those who have my book, Ladled, know!). I used to love making my own soaked whole wheat noodles, but I haven’t gotten my A game on yet for making gluten-free noodles, so the following brands are a real blessing.

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As gluten-free people know, there is some limit to what noodles you can enjoy when you are gluten-free. We started our gluten-free journey with brown rice noodles, which we enjoy. I do have two problems with them, however. First, they are a bit heavy in the stomach. I think that’s because a lot of the brands add in extra rice fiber, making them quite dense. Half of my family gets a small stomachache after enjoying a large size serving of them because of this. The second is the possibility of higher arsenic in brown rice. For those wanting to use rice noodles, I’d recommend using white rice noodle (like in this Thai noodle soup) or using Jovial brown rice noodles; (they make sure that arsenic content isn’t high, and they produce really high-quality products). You can find the white rice noodles at Asian stores and many regular supermarkets. The Jovial ones can be ordered online and found at some stores.

Another delicious gluten-free noodle option that is just perfect for Italian dishes are these quinoa and corn noodles . They are very mild, and work well for light or rich sauces. We’ve found that even those not eating a gluten-free diet enjoy these noodles. Unfortunately, they aren’t an option for those with corn allergies.

Finally, my latest gluten-free noodle discovery that I am thrilled to pieces about are the following buckwheat noodles. I’ve always loved buckwheat noodles, but the organic, gluten-free ones are typically quite expensive. The brand pictured in my photos, King Soba, can also be spend-y (I’ve seen them in stores and on Amazon for about 5-6 dollars a bag), but on Vitacost they are less than $3 a package, which is a great deal for the quality. Buckwheat is high in protein, magnesium, and has a lovely pronounced flavor that works well with many Asian styled noodle dishes. The brand has 100% Buckwheat Soba Noodles, a buckwheat and sweet potato noodles, AND a buckwheat instant ramen noodles, to name just a few of the options (some of the other flavors use rice, so watch for that if you want the buckwheat ones).

You can’t believe how happy I am to find  gluten-free instant ramen noodles! We love a lot of Asian styled soups, and these are so fun to be able to boil up in a couple of minutes to add (they also help convince my children to eat more nourishing soup!).

I do recommend that you do larger orders on Vitacost to quality for the free shipping. I don’t find that hard to do, as I buy my iron there, and a lot of grocery items are cheaper as well, so I have a system worked out for what items to buy there for cheaper, and order about once a month.

If you are grain-free, I recommend checking out this comparison of 4 grain-free noodles. I have another favorite to add to the list, so watch for an upcoming post!

Do you have any other favorite gluten-free noodles to add to this list?

Curried Tomato Soup (Simple, Creamy & Dairy-free)

Curried Tomato Soup (Dairy-free, creamy, and so simple)

This gentle tomato soup has plenty of pep with both curry powder and garam masala to flavor it, and coconut milk to make it incredibly creamy. This fast and easy soup is perfect for the spring days we are currently experiencing – a mix of spring rains, and sunny days. Some days are worthy of a sweater still, and there are lovely days where we break out our summer dresses. One way or another, this soup has been soothing our souls, and nourishing our bodies often. It reminds me of my Simple Thai Broth because it is so easy and simple to make, is incredibly soothing when under the weather, and also can easily be made into a main dish soup by simple additions.

We first discovered it at a local store and we all loved it with the exception of my youngest who found it too spicy. My version, which boosts better ingredients and is completely allergy-friendly for us, is kept flavorful without as much spice so that even my three-year-old enjoys it. I will be making this often.

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A few notes on ingredients:

  • I make my own chicken broth. It’s both cheap, and very nourishing. You can get my basic recipe here, and my bare-bones most frugal recipe here. (Both are delicious).
  • I used Pomi Chopped Tomatoes in this recipe. I love that they are unsalted (allowing me to add my own unrefined salt instead of the cheap salt usually used), that they are so incredibly rich in flavor, and that they aren’t canned in traditional cans (I always taste that “tinny” taste). You can substitute whatever brand you prefer easily though.
  • I used Mountain Rose Herbs Curry Powder. Delicious!
  • I used this brand of coconut milk, which is guar gum free (my oldest seems to get stomachaches from gaur gum). Another great gaur gum free, and delicious brand is this coconut cream. 
  • This is one of those recipes where owning a hand blender is really helpful!
Curried Tomato Soup (creamy-but-dairy-free, and Easy!)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Easy to adapt and play with, this simple recipe is flavorful all on its own, or make it a main dish with the addition of precooked rice, fresh spinach and chicken chunks (it will only take a few minutes at the end of the cooking time to reheat the rice and cook the spinach and chicken). Other possible additions include topping it with fresh cilantro, fried onions or garlic, or a squeeze of lemon juice of a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It's also perfect to serve with grilled cheese.
Ingredients
  • 1 large yellow, white, or red onion, or 2 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of fat or oil of choice (such as coconut oil or avocado oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or similar starch or flour), optional
  • 1½ tablespoons each curry powder and garam masala
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 carton of Pomi chopped tomatoes, 750g/26.46 oz (or brand of choice)
  • 1 14 oz can of full fat coconut milk
  • 3 + teaspoons of unrefined salt (unless using presalted tomatoes and broth, then salt to taste).
Instructions
  1. Heat the fat in a large pot over medium-high heat, until hot. Add onions, and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, stirring here and there, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are starting to soften. Add the garlic, and cook for about 1 more minute.
  2. Add the arrowroot, and stir into the onions. Add the tomatoes, and curry powder, and garam masala, and stir until mixed. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk, and, if using unsalted broth and tomatoes, add 3 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Blend using a hand blender (or, carefully in batches in a regular blender) for a smoother texture. I like mine with small bits of onions still left in it. Adjust to taste with salt. And serve.

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Simple Cilantro & Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

CilantroandOliveOilDippingSauce

This cilantro and olive oil dipping sauce is full of fresh and bold flavors. It is perfect to serve with a loaf of rustic bread as a starter to a meal, or to use as a garnish for meats and soups. I have spent countless times with friends enjoying homemade bread dipped in olive oil.

I first discovered this delicious sauce while shopping at a small local farmer’s market. I bought a jar along with a loaf of bread. Later while eating and visiting with friends I realized how simple it would be to make.

The key, really, is in the olive oil. Good quality olive oil can be hard to find. There are many brands out there that sell adulterated oil. It is always best to source your oil from a small privately owned farm. Chaffin Family Orchard located in Northern California, is a wonderful choice when you are looking to purchase olive oil in the States. My personal favorite it sourced in my valley and pressed just down the road from me at Rancho Cortes, located outside of the tiny town of El Provenir, Baja California. Both of these oils are so mild and buttery unlike many counterparts that I have tried over the years that leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Back to the cilantro sauce, it is very easy to make. All you need is fresh cilantro, high quality olive oil, garlic cloves, unrefined salt and a blender. It plays off the idea of pesto but there are no nuts or cheese to be found. Not only is it good with bread or meats, but is also makes a wonderful sauce for pasta.

The garlic, olive oil and salt in this sauce preserve the cilantro for much longer than it would last on it’s own. It will stay fresh in the fridge for at least a month– if you can make it last that long, I can’t.

Related Recipes on The Nourishing Gourmet:

Cilantro Olive Oil Dipping Sauce
 
Author:
 
This cilantro and olive oil dipping sauce is very easy to make. All you need is fresh cilantro, high quality olive oil, garlic cloves, unrefined salt and a blender. It plays off the idea of pesto but there are no nuts or cheese to be found. It is good with bread and meats, and also makes a wonderful sauce for pasta.
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 3 cups olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp real salt
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  2. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a month.
  3. Use to dip bread, on top of pasta and meats or in soup.