Friday, January 28, 2005

The Odd Couple

There are times when your cupboards and refrigerator are looking a little bare, and your paycheck is stretched a little thin. On days like that, you realize it's probably not a good idea to go out to lunch repeatedly, so you scrounge around at home for something that will keep you going, at least until you get groceries in a day or so.

So there I was last night, knowing that I would not have a chance to go home for a hot lunch today and wondering what on earth I could make to bring in to work. Thus began the kitchen inventory...

Well, let's see... there's bread. Good, I can make a sandwich.

And there's peanut butter. Fine, make that a peanut butter sandwich. But I know that won't be enough. I'll really want some kind of vegetable to go with that.

OK, so I could peel a carrot and have that. But wait! Hey... what if... you know, that Uzbek carrot salad I made for Dinner Club this week wasn't hard to make, so what if I just shred one carrot and make up a small amount of the dressing and have that to go with the peanut butter sandwich?

Or....

Better yet...

What if I put the carrot salad ON the sandwich with the peanut butter?????

Now, I know there will be some among my faithful readers who may think I have just slipped into a culinary hell of my own making, and it serves me right. But I beg your indulgence for just a moment.

If you have had Thai food, you have probably had some sort of dish that had carrots among the vegetables, soy sauce and sesame oil and garlic in the sauce, and peanuts on top. Perhaps you've had pad thai and enjoyed it, or maybe you've had rice paper rolls with a spicy peanut dipping sauce.

So it's not that random a leap to putting this fabulously flavored carrot salad on a peanut butter sandwich. (I even added a little cilantro.) And please believe me when I tell you that not only was it an amazing combination, but I think I've developed a new craving.

We all have strange and unusual food cravings that make other people raise their eyebrows or turn away in disgust. (I've read some very interesting ones of late, courtesy of another blogger, The Food Whore.) Clearly some of these cravings (if not all) address certain dietary deficiencies for each of us. (Most of my cravings have to do with salt, and since I'm blessed with low sodium levels, I can go ahead and indulge them as needed.)

So don't turn up your nose at my unusual peanut butter sandwich. Or as the Chef Mother would always tell me, "Don't knock it if you haven't tried it."

Go on. Try it. I dare you.

Uzbek Carrot Salad

1 lb carrots, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T light soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar (ume plum vinegar is also good)
2 T toasted sesame oil
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp chili paste (crushed red pepper also works)
2 T toasted sesame seeds
2 T chopped fresh chives (fresh cilantro is a nice substitute)

Place carrots in serving dish. Mix remaining ingredients for the dressing. Pour over carrots, toss well, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Serves 4

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