Dani Goes South.

snap peas

Loaded Cold Soba Bowls with Salmon, Mustard Greens, Watercress, Snap Peas, Sesame Vinaigrette, & All The Herbs

Dinners, Salads, Lunches, SeafoodDani ColombattoComment
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Hello, you. I hope you're feeling fresh-faced, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed. May I be so bold as to real-talk-backslash-attempt-to-encourage you for a moment, before I attempt to woo you with cold noodle bowls (haha)? Cool, thanks a bil!

Today I posted a little something on my Instagram stories about May being Mental Health Awareness Month, and yesterday being the 2 year anniversary of losing my brother, Kevin. Allow me to backtrack a teeny bit, before getting to my point. This space is special to me. I knew for a long time that I needed to start it, but really did not know what shape it would take. I knew when I started it, that if I didn't stop deliberating over every little detail, color, template, etc., then I would never do anything with it at all. I decided to just pull the trigger, and get moving. Now I'm a few months into doing this little solo mission, and I find myself confronted with a new set of struggles. Let me be the first to say, food is kind of everything to me. It's probably number 3 in the top 3 things I care about (1 and 2 being family/friends, and health), and that is said with zero exaggeration. However, sometimes, in light of events that have occurred in my life over the last 3ish years, and hell, I'll say it- the general climate of the world, food can seem, well, trite. Not that important in the grand scheme. At least, that's what the little troll voice in the back of my mind creeps in to say every so often. Do you have one of those? I call mine Madge... She has zero social graces, and she loves an elastic jean short/croc pairing.

Allow me to attempt to bring this home: I think that as creatives, in any capacity, we have the ability to give so much of ourselves and our spirits to anything we are working on. Not only can this be depleting, but it can also be a cause of internal conflict. After I lost my brother, I ended up taking what added up to a year off of social media. I was having the hardest time reconciling the "need" to post content out of fear of never getting another job, and/or becoming irrelevant, in the midst of trying to care for myself during an extremely difficult time. I made the decision that once I re-entered this space, I would do so with authenticity. For me, this doesn't mean posting every day with some sort of explanation of what was happening inside. The goal was more to be at peace and truly okay with the silences...with my lack of explanation. To know that things can be both/and: I can still be struggling with grief, battling depression, and yet, still be cooking, styling, and shooting up a storm, and have more moments than not of total happiness. I want this very space to be both/and (a phrase I fully stole from my former therapist, who happens to have an amazing podcast now). A space for fun, vibrant food, adventures in styling, this new city, and a very much needed dash of earnest honesty. At least, for this girl, it's a much needed dash. I can't speak for others, but I've heard rumblings I'm not alone.  

Life is complicated. We can be sad, and still swoon over gorgeous floral arrangements. We can harbor intense emotional pain from trauma, and ugly-laugh at a good cat video. We can have moments of questioning our worth, and make a salmon soba noodle salad packed with veg, because at the end of the day, we know we owe it to ourselves to practice a little love and care. How's THAT for a segue?!?!? So graceful, like slowly tripping down stairs, am I right? Onto salmon and carbs, because I know that's really why you're here. Thanks for hanging in, and allowing me to dupe you with my emotions for a few.

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I love a throw-everything-into-a-bowl situation- especially, when it leaves you feeling light, and totally fulfilled at the same time. Something about the combination of sesame-sambal glazed salmon, spicy greens, fresh snap peas and cucumbers, light soba noodles, and bright vinaigrette just keeps me coming back for more. Toasted, chopped peanuts, lime juice, and fresh basil, garlic chives, and cilantro are welcome additions to this guest list and just set things over the top. Frankly, the ways you can customize this baby are infinite. A great totally veg option would be to swap the salmon for sambal-marinated mushrooms, and maybe grill up an avocado to throw in there. When I typed that last part, I became instantly regretful I hadn't thought of that in the moment for this, because that would be next-lev. 

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Preheat your oven to 375F, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Make your vinaigrette: whisk together your rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic clove, 1/2 your lime juice, honey, and sesame oil. Taste for seasoning, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Cook your soba noodles until tender but still al dente, drain, and add to a large bowl. Add about 1/3 cup of your vinaigrette to your soba noodles, and toss together. Reserve in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble your bowls. 

In a small bowl, whisk together your sambal, hoisin, soy sauce, lime juice, allspice, and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chop your veggies, adding your snap peas to a small bowl, and seasoning with a scant drizzle of sesame oil, and sprinkle of salt. 

Season your salmon with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and drizzle over your marinade. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is just barely cooked through.

Here's what I added to our salmon soba bowls:

  • 1 cup each mustard greens, and watercress

  • 1/2 a cucumber, cut into 3" matchsticks

  • The reserved snap peas

  • 1/2 cup toasted peanuts

  • 1/2 cup each chopped basil and cilantro

  • 4 garlic chives, minced (you can totally sub regular scallions)

  • A healthy drizzle of the reserved vinaigrette

Again, like I said before, these are so customizeable. You do you, boo!

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Well, friends...This little site is about to get a lot more both/and-y, and maybe even a little re-brand-y. Additionally, this probably will not be the last time I weave a seafood recipe into an unsolicited emotional pep talk, so I hope you're on board. If not...Something about plenty of fish in the sea? *shrugging girl emoji* 

Have a beautiful day. 

Salmon Soba Bowls

For the salmon:

1 lb. salmon vilet

1 tbs sambal olek

1 tsp hoisin sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Dash allspice

1 tbs sesame oil

Salt to taste

For the bowls:

1 package soba noodles

1/2 a cucumber, cut into 3" matchsticks

1/2 cup toasted chopped peanuts

1 cup snap peas

1 cup each mustard greens and watercress

1/2 cup each chopped fresh basil and cilantro

For the vinaigrette:

1/3 cup rice vinegar

2/3 cup sesame oil

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp honey

1 garlic clove, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Springy AF Broken Lasagna with Sausage, Fennel, Rainbow Chard, Mushrooms, Peas, Lemony Pan Sauce, and Parm

Dinners, PastaDani ColombattoComment
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Tis the season where the veggies all seem to have an Oprah voice. Chard is poppin' off, sweet peas are earning their namesake, and fennel has taken the throne as spring's official mascot. I love this season so much. The air is sweeter, and everything is in bloom. It just makes me want to take a big, fat, deep breath before my hair is all, "Hai, humidity!". This is the season that made me fall in love with Austin- I can't believe I'll have been here a year this month! Truly, fastest year of my life. 

Since I've been frequenting Agua Dulce Farms - AKA - the thing I can't shut up about, we've been #blessed with all the greens we could hope for. Honestly, I look like a total zombie in that greenhouse because I'm just all heart eyes emojis over lettuces. That being said, we've been throwing them in everything humanly possible. We also got some really delicious fennel from them, which immediately makes my mind go to Italian sausage. This pasta comes together in about 30 minutes, and is packed with nutrient-dense veggies. It's equal parts hearty, light and herbaceous, with extra chopped fennel fronds, micro arugula greens, and a simple basil oil that isn't mandatory, but highly recommended. You could even go fully veg, and forego the sausage, which I guarantee would be equally delicious. 

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat a scant amount of olive oil on medium-high, and add your sausage. Allow to brown for a couple minutes before beginning to saute. Add your mushrooms, and chopped thyme, and cook until golden brown and sausage is fully cooked through. Season with a sprinkle of salt, and spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil, and set aside. 

Add your broken lasagna to your boiling water, and cook until al dente. 

Heat the skillet you cooked your sausage in on medium. Add your butter, and once melted, your fennel. Saute until translucent, and add your garlic. Deglaze your pan with your lemon juice, and add your chicken stock. Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes. While this is simmering, grab a second skillet, add a tablespoon of butter, and a drizzle of olive oil, and heat on medium. Add your swiss chard, snap peas, red pepper flakes, salt, and saute for just a minute or so. 

After your sauce has simmered for about 3 minutes, cut the heat, and taste for seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add your pasta directly from the pasta water to your sauce, along with your sausage and mushroom mixture, and your chard/snap pea mixture, tossing to coat everything. 

To serve, top with chopped fennel fronds, and any microgreen you can find! I happened to get some arugula micros from the farm, and they were such a great addition. Imagine the spiciness of arugula packed into a tiny vehicle so it's intensified. I'm v into it. If you can't get your paws on those, some freshly chopped parsley would be perfect. Lemon zest for extra tartness, and as mah girl Ina Garten would say, so people know what's going on inside the pasta, is an excellent choice. Basil oil is delicious, and easy, and everyone should just make some and throw it in their fridge because...self care? I don't know, just do it. Simply grab a handful of basil leaves, drizzle in about 1/2 a cup of olive oil and blend the hell out of it with some salt and pepper. It's like the bright lipstick of this pasta. Necessary? No. But it really makes your eyes look pretty, so we do it. Extra parm is the obvious final move for serving, because isn't pasta just a parmigiano vehicle? 

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I don't know why lasagna has always been this like, one-purpose pasta. Sure, those lasagna roll-ups that have been circling the internets look downright delicious, but why isn't it used more in just every-day pasta applications? The texture is amazing, it has great surface area, and it kind of automatically makes whatever you're pairing it with somehow heartier. I'm into it. That being said, all of these things would make one helluva delicious spring lasagna. I'm a complicated lady. 

Broken Lasagna with Sausage, Fennel, Rainbow Chard, Mushrooms, Peas, Lemony Pan Sauce, and Parm

(Serves 4)

1 box lasagna, broken into about 2" x 3" pieces

1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed

1 bunch swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves roughly

1 cup snap peas

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds chopped

1/2 lb. container of mushrooms (I used baby bellas)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped 

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 cup chicken broth

Juice + zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, to serve

Basil oil, to serve (optional)