entertaining

Tangy Purple Cabbage Slaw

sweet and spicy red cabbage slaw

So I get it, this recipe might not look like the most interesting thing I've ever made but hear me out for a minute! I think I solved an age-old problem that I used to run into constantly - the leftover cabbage dilemma. 

Purple cabbage adds the most insanely beautiful pop of color to just about any dish you can imagine. Personally, I think fish tacos and peanut noodles practically scream for it, but it also goes well diced up in a summer salad and helps step up a burrito bowl. 

The problem is and always has been, what the heck do you do with the rest of the cabbage after you use exactly 1/8 of the head? One of my favorite ways to "clean out" the fridge, is to start by pulling everything out that still has some life left, then figuring out a way to food prep it into something that we can eat for lunches during the week. The cabbage was turned into this tangy slaw and it turned out so well (and was so incredibly simple) that I had to share!

red cabbage and carrot slaw

I almost always have carrots on hand (because they last forever), so I just cored and chopped up the cabbage, shredded a couple of carrots and added some dates for sweetness and texture. Using some pantry staples, I whipped up a sweet and tangy dressing that pulled everything together.

We ate this as a side dish for dinner, then as a lunch for the week but I could not help but wonder how perfect it would be on top of some pulled pork sandwiches (one of my favorite summer meals!). Or, if you need a side dish for a pot luck in a hurry, I'm sure this would be a welcomed addition to any spread. Give it a try and make sure to let me know when you do!


Tangy Purple Cabbage Slaw 

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: Serves 6-8 | Prep time: 20 minutes 

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 small head of red cabbage, cored and chopped into small pieces

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated

  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates (about 10)

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

instructions

  1. Add vinegar through brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk until well combined, then slowly stream in olive oil while mixing to emulsify.

  2. Add cabbage, shredded carrots, and dates and toss with tongs until totally coated in dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Stupid Easy Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

summer rolls with spicy peanut sauce

If you get my Healthy Dish emails, you are well aware of the {overly dramatic} story of when I made summer rolls for the first time. And I have to tell you, I've made them at least three times since! In case you missed it, the basic gist of the story was... For some reason I always thought they were way harder than they actually are.

In reality, they are stupid easy - hence the title of this post - and a new favorite summer dinner in a hurry. Plus, once you have the rice paper on hand, you can throw these together with any fillings that you need to use up, super fast. I might even get really adventurous and try using fruit as the filling.

As a bonus, the peanut sauce is a combination of pantry staples that is worthy of being eaten straight from the spoon (not that I would know). The leftovers would also make a fab addition to some soba noodles!

Did I mention that these are also an amazing vehicle for all of your fresh summer vegetables? To add a fun twist you could use julienned radish, cucumber, zucchini and cilantro all straight from the garden if you wanted. Customize the protein or leave it out completely to make these vegan.  Regardless of what variation you choose, the next time you have friends over, I think you should set these beauties out as an appetizer for something a little bit more creative than the standard chip bowl. Or better yet, set out all of the toppings and let everyone build their own. 


Stupid Easy Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: Serves 2 for an entree, 4 for appetizers | Prep time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

  • 2 Tbsp warm water (you might need more if your peanut butter is thick)

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar

  • 1 tsp ginger paste (could also use fresh grated ginger)

  • 1 tsp hot chile sauce (like Sriracha)

  • 1 tsp brown sugar

  • 10 rice paper wrappers (mine were 6" in diameter)

  • 3 pieces of leaf lettuce

  • 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped into matchsticks

  • 1/2 avocado, peel removed and sliced thin

  • 8 oz pre-cooked shrimp, tails removed and cut in half lengthwise

  • Basil leaves

  • Mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Add peanut butter through brown sugar in a mason jar and shake until well combined. Set sauce aside.

  2. Fill a shallow bowl with water (for dipping the rice paper), then build an assembly line with all of the other summer roll ingredients.

  3. Dip rice paper in water for about five seconds, then layer the ingredients in a line just below the center of the wrap (being careful not to overfill). Fold over the top (away from you), fold in the sides, then roll up like a burrito and place on a cutting board or plate seam side down. You can drape a wet paper towel over the top to keep the rolls moist while you finish building the entire batch, but as long as you eat them right away I don't think it's necessary.

  4. To serve, arrange the rolls on a serving platter with the peanut sauce.


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Entertaining Made Easy: Build-Your-Own Pita Pizzas

It's something that happens all too often. You decide to host friends for dinner but have no idea what to make. You consider attempting a new recipe for the first time but panic at the thought of messing it up and having to throw everything away. Even worse, by the time you get home from work and get a fancy meal prepped and ready, you worry that you might not be eating until 8:00pm. I've been there! As tempting as it is to throw all plans of cooking out the window and call up Papa John's, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way.

Your solution: Build-Your-Own Pita Pizzas. And before you say this is totally kid-ish or unfit for hosting guests, just keep reading because there are ways to make this more interesting. Jacob and I had some overnight guests on Friday night and decided to keep dinner easy with the BYO Pizza plan. I'm happy to say that it was a hit! 

There's a few reasons why this could possibly be the best entertaining meal ever...

Pizza Ingredients.JPG

Customizable based on taste preferences and/or allergies.

These days it seems like everyone has at least one thing they avoid whether it's for allergy or intolerance reasons or just a pure dislike. This can make finding a crowd-pleaser totally stressful but by serving something that's customizable, everyone gets to choose what they want for toppings. If you have vegan friends coming over, you might pick up some non-dairy cheeses. For the non-meat eaters, have mushrooms on hand for a viable replacement (and because let's be honest, mushrooms are the best pizza topping there is). If someone is gluten-free, you could offer zucchini rounds or portabello caps as a replacement for the pita. 

See also | The 10 Healthy Foods I Always Have at Home

Inexpensive.

Entertaining is fun but if you're on a tight budget, it can also get pricey depending on what you decide to make and the number of people. The nice thing about this meal is that you can go as simple or adventurous as you want. I sprung for things like anchovies and artichoke hearts to add a little bit of spice but most people are just as happy with a basic pepperoni or cheese pizza too. 

Fun and experiential. 

All right this one is obvious, but how fun is it to go to dinner at someone's house and actually get your hands a little messy in the kitchen? I love the idea of getting creative and turning a typical weeknight dinner date into an experience. Plus, I'm a huge fan of casual food with friends and this fits the bill perfectly. Who needs a cooking class when you can pita pizza instead? Yes I used that as a verb. 

Just plain delicious because who doesn't like pizza?

Going back to that whole thing about people having different taste preferences, you can't really find more of a crowd-pleaser than good old fashioned pizza so it tends to be a great choice all-around. If you want to jump on the build-your-own pita pizza train, here's what you need to get started:

  • Pitas (I offered white and whole wheat so each person could choose)
  • Sauces/Bases: tomato sauce and/or pesto, olive oil
  • Meats: pepperoni, calabrese, sausage or shredded chicken
  • Cheeses: mozzarella is a must, but add variety with feta, goat or parmesan 
  • Other Toppings: sliced mushrooms, artichokes, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, thinly sliced red onion 
  • Spice it Up (the fun stuff): crushed garlic, anchovy filets, capers, cream cheese, red pepper flakes, jarred roasted red peppers or fresh jalapeños 

How-to: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and ask everyone to assemble their own pizza. Place each one on a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or sprayed). Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly! 

I also threw together a quick salad to add some green, but of course this part is optional. I kept this simple too by grabbing a bag of greens and adding carrot shreds, an avocado, dried cherries and sunflower seeds. As long as there's ranch, you're golden. 

What's your go-to when hosting people for dinner?