Napa Cabbage Salad + Peanut Dressing

Napa Cabbage Salad Mise En Place |
Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing |

Well, we did it. Cut the cord. Cable television is no longer taking up residence at Chez Nichols. Good riddance Guy Fieri, Sister Wives, and Dance Moms. So shameful, yet so addictive. This isn't the first time we've abstained from cable. It's been an on-again, off-again saga. Regrettably we've always come crawling back for the one fix Netflix and Apple TV can't deliver: live sports. With the Patriots playoff game only days away, I'm reminded why relapse is an ever-present threat.

Now, I know we're not alone in this camp. As I've learned it's actually quite a trendy move. So trendy in fact that some big wigs have figured out how to capitalize on our situation. Apparently ESPN is leading the charge to unbundle a sports package that you can buy a la carte. I think we're about to enter a new era, my friends.

But in the meantime I've been looking for ways to fill the time House Hunters marathons used to occupy. This salad on repeat is one of them. I think this is our third go round in two weeks. I have to say it's far more satisfying than even the most tempting reality TV.

Peanut Dressing or Sauce |
Napa Cabbage Close Up |
Napa Cabbage Salad Mise En Place |
Napa Cabbage Salad + Peanut Dressing |


Napa Cabbage Salad

  • 1/2 head napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage, napa is much more delicate than regular green cabbage and thus better suited for salads like this)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped 
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 Thai chiles, finely diced (if you don't like heat, leave these out)
  • 3 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 package ramen noodles, crushed and lightly toasted in a dry skillet (discard the seasoning packets)
  • 2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds

Peanut Dressing

  • Juice of one lime
  • 3 Tbs. peanut butter
  • 3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. siracha
  • 1/2 sesame oil



  • To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Cut the cabbage into thin strips: lay the half cabbage head on a cutting board and cut in half lengthwise, leaving the root end in tact. Then cut the remaining halves in half again lengthwise. Now cut all three sections crosswise into half inch strips until you reach the root end.
  • To prep the ramen noodles, crush lightly while still in packaging. Open package and discard seasoning packet. In a dry skillet over medium heat toast noodles until lightly browned, about 4-6 minutes.
  • Toss cabbage, cilantro, bean sprouts, green onions, chiles, ramen noodles, and sesame seeds with peanut dressing and serve. Tofu, chopped nuts, shredded chicken, or grilled salmon would all be top notch adds.


Lemon Tahini Dressing (+ Veggie Bowl)

Veggie Bowl and Lemon Tahini Dressing |
On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.

That night he had a stomach ache.
— The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My office has a lovely tradition whenever one of our colleagues welcomes a new baby. Everyone brings a favorite childhood book to build the baby his or her very own library. It was for this reason that I found myself holed up last week catching up on a few classics: The Snowy Day, Old Bear, and that imperishable favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (No need to fret, mom, I was simply the designated book collector, not the parent-to-be). 

Sifting through children's books is a first-rate way to spend an afternoon. I need to pencil it in more often. Sure there's the nostalgic value and the dreamy illustrations. But it's the simple, headline-free instructions for daily living that I need more of. For instance, if you're not familiar with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, (or if it's been a while), the book is about a wee caterpillar who is born with an insatiable appetite. As if programmed he chomps through everything in front of him. See? We can identify already. Within a week our caterpillar friend learns that good things upon good things will eventually produce diminishing returns in the form of a belly ache. With the parade of holidays and parties, parties and holidays I've endured over the last month I'm right there with the little guy. This is a meal to counteract the indulgence. Vibrant, crunchy things drenched in rich tahini sauce is atonement in a bowl, and it's not even January yet.

Gosh, I think I've earned myself a cookie.

Lemon Tahini Dressing |
Veggie Bowl with Tofu |
Veggie Bowl + Lemon Tahini Dressing |

Lemon Tahini Dressing


  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed into a paste
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 4 Tbs. warm water
  • Dash cayenne
  • Salt + Pepper


Whisk or puree all ingredients until smooth. You may need more water (add 1 Tbs. at a time) to achieve a pourable consistency. Let sit for a bit for the flavors to meld.

Use as a dressing for salad or vegetables of your choice. This veggie bowl contains roasted sweet potatoes, shredded cabbage, blanched broccoli, diced tofu, spanish peppers, and sesame seeds.