My Mom Told Me To

November 15, 2012

My mom is relatively new to my blog.    She has always enjoyed my writing.  Back in the days when we used to write letters (remember those?), I sent a lot of mail home.  Whether I was in camp, on a bike in France while in high school, in college, or studying in Paris, she and my dad got a lot of letters from me.  She always said I was a good writer.

When I first starting writing this blog, I think my mom might have been perplexed.  Most people I knew were perplexed, including my own husband.  This was way back in 2008 and the idea that someone might want to write about the food they were cooking, take pictures of it, and put it out there to the general public seemed a bit strange in my circle.  One by one, friends and loved ones starting reading, commenting, requesting recipes.  But not my mom.  I know she loves me, loves my writing, loves my food – but I also know she does not love technology.  It took her getting an iPad to finally realize how easy it is to get online and read my blog and lots of other things.  Now she has joined the chorus of, “is this going to be on your blog?” when she eats something in my house that she likes.

My parents came to visit us in the beginning of October.  I was so excited to see them, to show them our new home, our neighborhood, the beauty of where we now live.  I was also anxious to show my mom a good time and feed her well because she had a big operation looming when they returned home.  My mom is young and vigorous and healthy but she has the bad luck to also have terrible joints.  She has been having pain in her hip and the time had come to have it replaced.  A hip replacement, as I’m sure you know, is a big deal with a long recovery.  She has been unable to bear weight – i.e.- stand – for the past month.  That means many things not the least of which is no cooking.  When she first told me about the operation, I immediately thought that I would cook for them.  That would be how I could help in a difficult situation.  Bring them food each week so that they could still enjoy dinners.  And then I remembered that I was moving and that would be impossible.

I’m the first born and the only daughter and I felt so guilty that I would not be able to help them in my way during a rough time.  So, before we moved, I made a huge amount of soup and a ton of freezer burritos, and stocked their freezer as best I could.  I also wanted to make them a special meal while they were here in Oakland.  I made a Thai green curry with the best of the end of summer and beginning of fall produce (recipe coming), and I made this delicious salad.  I didn’t take pictures because we were too busy eating and drinking wine and watching the sun go down.  At the end of the meal, my mom said, “You should really post that salad recipe because I think your readers would really like it”.  Oldest children do as they are told.

So, I made the same menu the next week.  The salad originally called for asparagus and I made it that way when my parents were here, but asparagus is so spring and it is so not spring, so I decided to swap out green for green and go with brussels sprouts.  I like brussels sprouts, Randy tolerates them, but I will admit they weren’t quite right in this salad.  They are terrific roasted and the marinade made them taste extra awesome but truthfully, they just didn’t go well in this salad.  So I’m giving you the recipe as originally written, with the asparagus.  If you don’t want to pay $7/pound for asparagus coming from Chile, I think zucchini or green beans would make a good alternative green vegetable.

One Year Ago:  Bulghur Salad Stuffed Peppers, Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney, Perfect Pumpkin Bread
Two Years Ago:  Roasted Mushrooms and Shallots with Fresh Herbs, Romaine Leaves with Caesar Dressing
Three Years Ago:  Creamy Artichoke Dip, Holly B’s Gingersnaps, Gianduja Mousse
Four Years Ago:  Spinach and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Bulghur and Green Lentil Salad with Chickpeas

Roasted Sesame-Giner Asparagus and Portobello Salad with Napa-Spinach Slaw
Adapted from The Fresh and Green Table
Serves 4

This recipe instructs you to grill both the mushrooms and asparagus which I think is a brilliant idea.  Our grill is propane-less at the moment, so I just used the oven to roast the vegetables.  In addition to that, I made a lot of little changes to the recipe.

¼ cup peanut or canola oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed
¾ pound thin asparagus, trimmed
Kosher or sea salt
2 cups sliced Napa cabbage
2 cups baby spinach
¼ cup sliced scallions, white and pale green parts only
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  In a glass liquid measure, combine the peanut or canola oil, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.  Whisk until well combined and transfer 3 tablespoons of the mixture to a separate bowl.  Put the portobello caps, stem-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the remaining marinade into the four caps.  Let sit for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.

Have the mushroom caps at one end of the sheet, place the asparagus at the other end.  Season the asparagus with a pinch of salt and roll the asparagus around in any of the marinade that has dripped off the mushrooms.  (Tilt the mushroom caps and pour some of the residual marinade over the asparagus.)  Make sure to rub the bottom of the mushroom caps in the marinade as well.  Remove the asparagus to a plate.  (They will not take as long to roast as the mushrooms.)

Place the mushrooms in the oven and set a timer for 8 minutes.  Pull them out, flip them over, and place the asparagus on the other end of the sheet.  Roast for another 8 minutes.  The asparagus should be bright green, crips tender, and browning in places and the mushrooms should also be soft and browning in places.  Put them back in the oven for a few minutes if they do not seems done.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, spinach, half the scallions, half the cilantro, and half the sesame seeds.  Add the lime juice and sugar to the reserved marinade.  Whisk until well combined.  Pour in the marinade and toss well to coat.

Slice the mushrooms into ½-inch thick strips and slice the asparagus diagonally into 1-inch pieces.  Gently toss the mushrooms and asparagus into the rest of the salad.  Garnish with the remaining scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds.



  1. You have to love moms and their advice. Even if I argue with my mom for hours about doing something…I still end up doing it. You’re right – it’s a first child thing. I hope your mom is doing alright!! And it sounds like you did take care of her as much as you could, which I’m sure she appreciates. This salad does sound delicious. I might hold onto it until asparagus comes back in season but when it does…it’s ON.

    Comment by Joanne — November 16, 2012 @ 1:35 am

  2. This salad looks SO delicious!

    Comment by Jackie — November 16, 2012 @ 2:37 am

  3. That is a big bowl of yum.

    Freezer burritos also work well with eggs for breakfast. Eggs, tons of mixed greens, peppers or whatever else you have on hand, and some potato and cheese for binder. These are my standard new baby food delivery and not they a the main reason I really wish I had a microwave in our new house’s to-be-remodeled-eventually kitchen.

    Comment by Melora — November 16, 2012 @ 4:05 am

  4. Thanks Dana. This was so good! I will have to make it soon! It’s always fun to be included in your blog!

    Comment by Barbara Wassermamn — November 16, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  5. loved this post! bookmarking this for when asparagus is around–it sounds delightful!

    Comment by natalie@thesweetslife — November 16, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  6. I can’t wait to make this salad!

    Comment by Maria — November 18, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  7. oh this looks delicious! I’m always up for new brussels recipes and I like them in a salad. You are SO right. Ha. First borns do what they’re told :)

    Comment by sara — November 19, 2012 @ 12:21 am

  8. husbands side of the family still doesnt “get” my blog.

    your salad looks FAB!

    Comment by leslie — November 19, 2012 @ 1:24 am

Leave a comment