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With all due respect to the summer solstice, Memorial Day undeniably heralds the beginning of the American summer, and for those of us in the northern states this is a particularly joyous occasion. Which is why we look forward with great relish to the traditional backyard barbecue, complete with sizzling grill, ice cold homemade lemonade and good friends gathered in the out of doors, free at last of coats and sweaters and snow blowers. What’s not to love? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m a little tired of the sides - cabbage, potatoes and elbow macaroni covered with mayonnaise. So here are some alternative versions of the standard picnic-table favorites. They taste great, and as an added benefit they free you from the worry of said mayonnaise spoiling in the sun and sending your guests home looking green.
1 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and light green parts)
1 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons chili oil (or more to taste)
Toss all slaw ingredients together in a large bowl. Blend all dressing ingredients in a blender of food processor until smooth (a few seconds) and toss with slaw. Can be served immediately but best if covered and refrigerated for an hour or two.
Don’t be frightened by the exotic-sounding ingredients. Most big supermarkets these days carry all of them. And if not, white wine vinegar can be substituted for the rice wine vinegar, a generous pinch of red pepper flakes can be substituted for the chili oil, and you can omit the toasted sesame oil.
Don’t substitute sugar for the honey. The honey helps emulsify the dressing and keep it from separating.