A mallard duck made her nest just under my office window aside our delphiniums. She sat patiently for a month. We only saw her move to adjust her position. Each day I would stop and look. Not wanting to disturb this diligent mother hen I didn’t dare get too close or even stake the tall flowers. Just when we were most concerned that her work was for naught, I noticed a broken egg shell. When I bent down to take a closer peek before beginning my morning walk, she hissed at me to let me know that major work was afoot.
An hour later, she was still sitting. Two hours later, she was gone. Yet, a just-hatched duckling looking very wet and bedraggled was still in the nest. A few hours later the adorable duckling was dry and fluffy and chirping, though still without its mother. And no mother returned.
Long story short, we rescued this sweet duckling and it now lives close by on “The Lucky Duck Ranch” with other ducks, chickens and geese and a year-round creek and a 7-year old girl as its guardian. This lucky duckling is eating food, drinking water and gaining strength daily. May its life be rich and continue to touch hearts—as it truly touched ours.
“I am President of the United States and I am not going to eat anymore broccoli.” President George H. W. Bush
When people tried to convince the President of broccoli’s exemplary nutritional benefits and role in disease prevention, the President responded that all this just gave proof to his insistence that “broccoli tastes like medicine.”
Makes me wonder if he ever tried freshly picked broccoli. For me, the taste and texture and color are all fabulous. Sometimes I make a meal of just blanched or steamed broccoli dressed in a favorite salad dressing or Spicy Peanut Sauce—flavorful, satisfying and healthy. By the way, Spicy Peanut Sauce also makes a great dressing for Jade Salad.
My kind of pasta salad
I’ve been waiting for broccoli to show up at our farmers’ market. It did just last week, beautifully green and tender. Along with the broccoli, fresh snow peas and sugar snap peas have also arrived—the perfect time to prepare and enjoy Jade Salad. I created this salad about a dozen years ago while chef at a local natural foods deli. Then just last year I added soba noodles to the mix—this is my kind of pasta salad.
For those of you following my blog for awhile, you know I love these brown Japanese buckwheat noodles. They go wonderfully with this Asian inspired dressing—so smooth and never starchy, they easily take on the flavor of the dressing and provide a color and textural contrast to the vegetables.
Here are some other recipes you might enjoy that feature soba noodles:
- Mint & Scallion Soba Noodle Salad w/ Cucumber, Carrot & Green Bean Threads
- Creamy Miso Soup w/Veggies, Greens & Soba Noodles — Home Version
- Miso Soup with Vegetables and Soba Noodles – Camping Version
Jade Salad can easily be prepared with or without Soba Noodles. Either way this is a gorgeous and great-tasting salad. For Jade Salad without sobas, reduce the dressing ingredients by half and proceed through Step 5 below. Stir in the toasted sesame seeds just before serving.
Yield: 4 servings as an entrée, 6+ servings as a side salad
12 cups broccoli florets and julienne stems (2–2½ pounds broccoli )
1½ cups snow peas
2 cups sugar snap peas
2/3 cup very thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons “lite” seasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
8 ounces soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles), cooked according to package directions
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, wash the broccoli and cut it into medium-sized florets of approximately equal size. Peel the stems and cut them lengthwise into quarters about 1¼ inches in length. All together you should have about 12 cups of florets and stems.
- Remove and discard the stem and the strings from both the snow peas and the sugar snap peas; set aside. Wash the scallions and very thinly slice both the white and green parts; set aside.
- In a small sauté pan, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat. Once toasted, immediately remove them from the pan and onto a plate.
- Blanch the broccoli by placing it into the rapidly boiling water. Once the water returns to a full boil, count slowly to 15. Use a slotted spoon or small strainer to remove the broccoli as quickly as possible to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Remove the broccoli from the cold water to a colander to drain. Next blanch the snow and snap peas in the same rapidly boiling water. As soon as the water returns to boil, remove the peas and place them in ice water. When the peas are cool, drain them well.
- Place the broccoli and snap and snow peas in a large bowl. Add the scallions and the soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Toss all together and let the salad marinate at room temperature for at least a half hour, tossing occasionally. (For a Jade Salad without sobas, stir in the toasted sesame seeds and serve.)
- Cook the soba noodles in lightly salted, boiling water according to the package directions. Place the corn and the peas in the bottom of your colander. As soon as the sobas are perfectly cooked, pour them into the colander over the peas and corn.
- When well-drained, toss in the noodles, corn and peas with the broccoli mixture along with the cilantro.Let the salad sit at least 15 minutes before serving so the noodles absorb the dressing. You can also prepare this salad up to four hours in advance.
- Serve the salad chilled or at room temperature. Toss with the sesame seeds just before serving.
Click Jade Salad for a printable version of this recipe without images