Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Laotian Vegetable Laab

My husband was recently complaining that we eat the same thirty or so meals over and over again.  We have some unique dishes that we really love, and some simple classics like spaghetti as well.  However, he was getting bored with our menu so we searched for some new recipes online.  In our research, we discovered online meal delivery services.  Meal delivery services are an interesting concept.  Each week, the company delivers to your doorstep a box filled with every ingredient you need to create a meal along with a full-color recipe card.  All of the ingredients are wedged between two giant ice packs and stuffed into an insulated foil bag.  It's a truly odd concept, but one we have really enjoyed.

There are several meal delivery service options, but we have only tried two: Hello Fresh! and Blue Apron.  Hello Fresh! was simple and didn't expand our menu beyond burgers and pasta, so we only tried it once.  Blue Apron has been a better fit for our family.  We have chosen the two person option with three meals each week.  We've found that the serving sizes are huge, so we can actually feed all three of us and even have a bit left over for my lunch the following day.  Some of the meals have been a little outside of our comfort zone, while others have been interesting, delicious, and expand our culinary skills.

Tonight, I made Laotian Vegetable Laab from Blue Apron.  Laab is a type of chopped salad, a staple in the Laos diet.  The Laos are native to Laos and Thailand.  Thai food is my absolute favorite food in the world, so I was really excited to try this dish.

Step 1: always wash produce and prep ingredients in individual bowls.  Pictured here is broccoli, carrots, savoy cabbage, cremini mushrooms, lime, serrano pepper (so spicy!), coconut milk, cilantro, and mint.  Also pictured is chicken breast, which was not called for in the recipe.  My little girl needs protein after soccer practice!

Step 2: marinate the carrots and serrano peppers in coconut palm sugar mixed with water and lime juice.

Step 3: cook rice in coconut milk.  I don't like the taste of coconut at all, so this made me nervous.  However, I do love the smell of coconuts, so I enjoyed cooking the rice this way.  

Step 4: Whisk together soy glaze, peanut butter, and water to make a sauce.  I'm also not a huge fan of peanut butter, so at this point I was convinced I would hate this meal.

Step 5: Cook mushrooms with olive oil over medium high heat.  The steam was clouding my camera lens!  Remove the mushrooms and add to the sauce.  Repeat with the broccoli.

Step 6:  Toss the mushrooms and broccoli with the peanut sauce.

Step 7: Assemble like a taco!  Spread rice on a cabbage leaf, add mushroom/broccoli mixture, top with marinated carrots, and garnish with mint, cilantro, and lime juice.  The recipe doesn't call for it, but we added chicken to half of our Laabs.

This dish was delicious!  The cabbage, which I also don't normally enjoy, was so crunchy it felt like eating a taco.  I couldn't even taste the coconut milk, but could smell it!  Surprisingly, I didn't notice a peanut taste at all even though the mushrooms and carrots were coated in peanut sauce.  The serrano peppers were so spicy and delicious!  Some changes I will make the next time I serve this dish include dicing the carrots into smaller cubes, using bigger cabbage leaves, and serving the chicken on the side.  I couldn't even taste the chicken, so including it was just added calories.  My Sophia needs the protein after soccer, but I could go without it in this dish.  Laotian Vegetable Laab was tasty, filling, and very nutritious.  This recipe is a keeper!         

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