It can be a bit embarrassing when I look at what motivates me to seek out a new recipe. This week it was abundance, which is really never a bad thing. But an abundance of bok choy? I definitely need a couple new recipes for this one.
And why do we have so much bok choy? I wish I could say it was because I was striving to introduce new and interesting vegetables to our family’s diet. I’ve cooked bok choy a couple of times and love its texture but growing it never really occurred to me until I found myself with some free packets of seeds from High Mowing Seeds out of Wolcott. It was early May, the weather was gorgeous and I had a little time, so I decided to plant my free seeds, whatever they were and now find myself with very happy and healthy crops of both arugula and bok choy. The arugula we know what to do with -- easy in salads and delicious on grilled pizza for a bit of contrast -- but the bok choy is another story. I do have a great recipe for Lion’s Head Meatballs with bok choy, a delicious Chinese specialty, and another one for braised bok choy but somehow late spring just doesn’t seem the right season to be making those.
I began by asking my neighbors if they had any favorite recipes and while one of them loves bok choy and its texture as I do, she didn’t have a favorite recipe. Our other neighbor was thrilled to be shown the rows of creamy white stems with their light green leaves and promises that he will be back to pick some to use in stir fry. While that sounded good, it happened to be perfect weather for grilling and eating outdoors and I wanted to take advantage of that. I knew I had come across recipes using bok choy in salads so I decided to see what I could find.
Sure enough, the trusty internet was full of applicable salad recipes. The range was astonishing. One amounted to chopped bok choy topped with what I can only describe as candy brittle made of sugar, ramen noodles and sesame seeds. Others used it simply as a green topped with a variety of dressings. I found one that looked just right -- a grilled salad that seemed like it would be a nice mix of flavors and colors and would accompany our teriyaki chicken beautifully.
This recipe is based on grilling genius Bobby Flay’s recipe as found on foodnetwork.com. It is a great mixture of textures and flavors and is absolutely gorgeous visually with its bright greens, purple and orange. In fact, next year I will be adding orange poppies for a burst of color in my very green and purple front flower beds, now full of purple iris and baptisia. Also keep in mind that this doesn’t make a huge amount -- it serves two as an entrée or four as a side dish.
Grilled Bok Choy Salad adapted from Bobby Flay at foodnetwork.com
1 medium head bok choy (I used three of our adolescent bok choy)
1Ž4 small purple cabbage, cut into 2 wedges
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
1Ž4 cup cilantro leaves
1 package ramen noodles, broken up and dry toasted in a skillet (discard the seasoning pack)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1Ž4 cup orange juice
1Ž4 cup balsamic vinegar
1Ž4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Wash bok choy and shake to remove excess water. On a preheated grill over medium-high heat grill scallions, cabbage and bok choy until just beginning to show grill marks and color, about one minute. Cut bok choy finely and chop cabbage and scallions. Toss in a large bowl with cilantro and oranges; season. Prepare dressing by whisking ingredients well; pour over salad and top with ramen noodles. Serve immediately.
The ramen noodles might seem like a strange touch but they compliment this salad perfectly adding a nice nutty crunch -- and the kids thought that they were great! If you wanted, you could substitute toasted slivered almonds. And if you are planning on eating any as leftovers, leave off the ramen noodles as they get really soggy.
Another great summer salad found while trying to creatively solve my bok choy "problem." Certainly a nice problem to have! And if you have any other favorite suggestions for using bok choy, I’d love to hear them -- there is still plenty left in the garden!
Julie Potter is a wife, mother of two, avid gardener and passionate cook who believes good food doesn’t have to be complicated. Share your thoughts with her at email@example.com.