It's hard to swallow the idea that the Olympics will be over on Sunday. What did I do with myself before they began? I know I wasn't twiddling my thumbs, so what was it? What inspired me to exercise? How can I possibly stay motivated to get rid of my love handles without seeing Michael Phelps in his Speedo, or the women volleyball players in their itty bitty bathing suits or Nastia Lukin in her sassy pink leotard? The only possible advantage to the ending of the summer games is the return to my normal sleep pattern.
I've created an Olympic "closing exercise" dinner, loosely Asian themed, with lots of bold flavors and fresh vegetables. There's a noodle salad (one of my recipes that was published in Bon Appetit), with crisp fresh veggies flavored with sesame and honey and a peanut ginger slaw with a zingy peanut butter dressing. I suggest that you also make my soy and lime tri tip. I'm convinced that tri tip is the frugal fillet mignon. It has a little more bite, but the flavor and juiciness belie its reasonable price. For dessert, ginger cookies (try this recipe from the fabulous Del sisters) and sorbet would hit the spot.
Money Saving Tips: Use vegetables and herbs that you can find for a reasonable price. You can swap cilantro for mint or basil in either of these dishes with excellent results. Sesame oil is pricey, so if you don't have some on hand, you can use vegetable oil. Chop your own cabbage if the bagged mixes are overpriced. Don't pay extra for special Asian noodles; plain dried pasta works well here. The pasta salad is delicious cold, warm, or room temp, so plan on packing leftovers in your lunch this week.Spicy Asian-Style Pasta Salad
Estimated Cost: $5.00
Notes: My original calls for honey roasted peanuts to be scattered on top. I swapped them for sesame seeds, since it would be nutty overkill with the slaw. You can easily make this a main dish by adding cooked shrimp, chicken, or beef.
1/2 lb. linguini or other pasta,
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 and 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
generous pinch of cayenne
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup edamame, or snow peas (frozen and thawed is fine here)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or cilantro
1 tablespoons sesame seeds
Cook pasta according to package directions. (Don't wash the pot yet.) Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon sesame oil, honey, vinegar, soy and cayenne in a small bowl. Add remaining sesame oil (about 2 teaspoons) to pasta pot and heat over medium heat. Add pepper, carrot, onion, and edamame and cook for one minute. Mix with pasta and dressing. Toss with basil or cilantro and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.
Peanut Ginger Slaw
Estimated Cost: $5.00
Notes: This slaw is best about 10 minutes after you mix the ingredients together. Only make as much as you will eat in one sitting.
1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, very finely chopped (Use 1/2 teaspoon dried, in a pinch)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (10 ounce) bag angel hair cabbage (you could also buy cole slaw bag)
1 cucumber, peeled, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts
In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, sugar, ginger, garlic, and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste the dressing. You may need to adjust the sugar a bit, depending on the peanut butter you use. You want the dressing a little on the sweet side. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, cucumber, cilantro,scallions, and peanuts. Serve within 10-30 minutes.
Coming this weekend: