Sunday, August 21, 2011

Crunchy Heartland Salad

A crunchy taste of the Midwest!
This past week our family was able to get away for a few days to Lake of the Ozark, Missouri.  Lake of the Ozark is about 7 ½ hours southwest of Chicago (unless you take a detour to the Kosher Krispy Kreme donut store in St. Louis…the extra hour detour is definitely worth it!).  The drive is through the heartland of the US, miles and miles of Midwest farmland.  Corn growing on the right, soybeans growing on the left.  Soybeans on the right, corn on the left.  Corn on the right and left…you get the idea. The Midwest is one of the primary suppliers of corn and soy worldwide, and driving through Illinois and Missouri you can see why.  We also spotted some sunflower fields which were a sunny burst of color amidst the blanket of green.  

Corn on the left...
Soybeans on the right...

Soybeans on the left!
Corn on the right!

Additionally, we saw a lot of livestock – cows, horses, and goats, grazing happily in the summer sun, and made sure to shout “COW!” every time we saw one (yes, we did shout “HORSE” and “GOAT” too).  With so much time in the car, and nothing but miles and miles of corn and soybeans as far as the eye could see, it shouldn’t be shocking that my husband and I started to talk about possible recipes that would incorporate all the crops that are harvested in the Midwest.  The recipe would include corn, and soybeans (a.k.a in fancier circles as edamame) of course, but could also include some of the other crops we saw like sunflowers.  We figured that some sort of salad could incorporate all of those healthy ingredients, in a colorful and delicious way – and so Crunchy Hearland Salad was born.  (No fish in the recipe because all the fish we caught when we went fishing on the trip were too small to keep!)  You can even top the recipe with some tangy feta cheese, made from either cow or goat milk (COW!).  

So that's where Feta comes from...

This recipe is super simple to make. You just go to the nearest corn, soybean and sunflower farm, pick what you need for the recipe, mix with the other ingredients and serve to your friends and family.  Ok, so it’s even easier than that, with frozen corn and edamame, vegetable oil (which is really soybean oil), scallions that I grow in the backyard (or that you can buy at the store), toasted sunflower seeds, a little vinegar, and ramen noodle soup mix all tossed together in a bowl.  It’s incredibly crunchy and yummy.  We also came up with the idea of using cooked orzo pasta with the corn, edamame, and sunflower seeds and making a fresh “pesto” with basil, parsley, garlic and a little soybean oil (sticking to the Midwest theme), but given the fact that we got back and found my poor basil and parsley didn’t survive the lack of tlc while we were gone, that version will have to wait for a later update.  

Now if I only had a good recipe using Krispy Kreme donuts…I guess I’ll just have to sample them all to come up with a good one!  Sigh…

No fish tale here...too small -
back into the water...even the bigger one!!
(BTW, it was 4 of 5!)
16        ounces frozen   corn niblets, defrosted
12        ounces              frozen shelled edamame, defrosted
½         cup                   toasted and salted sunflower seeds
2          tablespoons      vegetable (soybean) oil
1          tablespoon        rice vinegar
2                                  green onions, sliced diagonally
2          packages          oriental style ramen noodle soup mix
½         cup                   feta cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Set aside.  Open the ramen noodle soup mixes and remove the seasoning packets.  Place the ramen noodles on the prepared cookie sheet, then break into small pieces.  Toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until the noodles are crisped. 
Place the corn, edamame, sunflower seeds, and green onions in a large bowl.  Toss in the vegetable oil, rice vinegar and contents of the two seasoning packets making sure to evenly coat the vegetables, then add the toasted ramen noodles and toss to evenly distribute.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.  Serve topped with feta (optional) for a complete Midwest experience!
  1. You can make this salad in advance, just don’t add the toasted ramen noodles until 30 minutes before serving.
  2. Alternate method #1: Use the same amount of vegetable oil, corn, edamame, and sunflower seeds.  Add ½ red onion, finely diced, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, chicken or vegetable flavored ramen noodle soup mix.  Proceed as directed above.
  3. Alternate method #2:  Cook 16 ounces of orzo according to package directions.  Drain and cool.  Blend ½ cup basil, ½ cup parsley, and 2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional), and ¼ cup vegetable oil in a food processor.  Combine corn, edamame, and sunflower seeds in a bowl.  Stir in orzo until thoroughly combined.  Toss in blended basil mixture until orzo is completely coated.  Served chilled.
 All the ingredients...
Salad all mixed together in a bowl! 
SO yummy topped with Feta!

Don't forget to get your Krispy Kremes hot...look for the light!

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