Dani Goes South.

lunch

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

Dinners, Seafood, Pasta, SaladsDani Colombatto2 Comments
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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 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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Kale and Salmon Caesar with Buttery, Everything-Spiced Breadcrumbs

Salads, DinnersDani ColombattoComment
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This wouldn't really be my blog if I didn't post this recipe. I've shared it before on my previous blog, Goldwire, and it was one of our most popular recipes, and in my opinion, for good reason! Aside from toasting some breadcrumbs, melting some butter, and a little chopping, this dish is super hands-off. More than that, it's super satisfying, and I feel genuinely fulfilled after I eat it. Sure, it's not the healthiest salad on the block, thanks to copious amounts of parm, but who gives a shit? You guys know why you're here...

I've provided the kale and omegas. I've done my due diligence in the health department as far as I'm concerned. But because I also believe in trying to give ourselves our best chance at true happiness, there also just so happens to be a really, really delicious Caesar dressing with lots of the aforementioned cheese, along with mounds of buttery, toasted, everything-spiced breadcrumbs. Balance. Do you guys read italics in a creepy whisper? Because that's how I'm intending it. 

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"Taco" Salad with Cumin-Spiced Crispy Chicken + The Most Addictive Cilantro Dressing Ever

Dinners, SaladsDani ColombattoComment
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Let's talk about salads, baby. Let's talk about you and me. Let's talk about copying Trader Joe's cilantro dressing, 'cause that's EXACTLY what I set out to do (and when I get a food replication in mind, it's like a weird eye twitch that won't go away until I accomplish my mission). Not how the song goes? Aw, shucks. 

I was never one of those kids who fought salad. My grandpa actually called me rabbit most of my young life. I loved a tacky salad bar more than probably most new toys. When the server gave the go-ahead to go get myself a giant plate, while other people were still ordering, it always felt like I had inherently pulled some sort of wool over the adult's eyes, when in reality, they were probably like "Cool, you just enjoy that germ casserole, child. Now run along so we can break out the curse words."  Regardless, I was a happy camper, and to this day, the love affair continues. 

This particular salad, however, I'm ready to be my forever salad. As per previous mention, the inception of this salad was a craving I had for TJ's cilantro vinaigrette that I used to buy all the time in college. I don't enjoy the notion of being put in the box of having to go buy one pre-made item, so I love dissecting my favorite things wherever I can, and turning them into something I can whip up in minutes at home. 

This salad is the perfect balance of freshness and texture. To make it a fully rounded meal, I made a panko-crusted, chili and cumin-spiced chicken, which fortifies the taco vibes. Avo for creaminess, cherry tomatoes for a bright pop, green onions for some light heat, and finally, toasted pepitas, and freshly fried tortilla strips for the crunch factor. This salad has a lot going on, and it should probably consider booking a weekend AirBnb for a little sweet rejuv. 

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