Here’s a classic, cross-cultural recipe that was a staple in our Chicago home during the unbearably hot and humid summer days of my childhood. While it doesn’t get quite as hot or humid here in Southern California, there are days when this recipe will be just what you want to eat.
Farmers’ Chop Suey, influenced by Jewish descendants of Eastern Europe who also famously love Chinese food, is a mixture of seasonal, raw vegetables in a sour, creamy dressing. Use whatever fresh, crunchy, and colorful vegetables you have on hand or are inspired by at the market. Cut up the veggies, as much of each as you like. Mix the vegetables together and combine with generous dollops of the cooler-than-a-cucumber dressing.
Traditionally the dressing was simply sour cream, but since I’m minimizing the dairy in my diet I made a really delicious soy sour cream instead. You can also use plain yogurt if you prefer. Season the suey with salt and pepper (white if you have it), then garnish with a spoonful or 3 of chow mein noodles, and you have a refreshing, very tasty salad for lunch or as a first course at dinner on any warm summer day. Maybe even today?
(Serve in Chinese food take out containers with chopsticks for extra presentation flair.)
Farmers’ Chop Suey
Baby heirloom tomatoes
Green Bell Pepper
Soy Sour Cream
1 package soft tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon agave
4-5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
Blend all the sour cream ingredients together until completely smooth and creamy. You can add a bit of fresh dill and garlic if you’d like, then refrigerate for at least one hour to thicken.
Nancy Eisman is a member of the culinary team at Melissa’s Produce Company (www.melissas.com).