Ronnie Paul: A hard-fought lunch | TheUnion.com

Ronnie Paul: A hard-fought lunch

Ronnie Paul
Columnist

I craved a salad for lunch, so I took a bag of Romaine lettuce from the veggie bin. Prying the bag apart proved fruitless. I imagined that my futile struggle might end in a burst blood vessel and a dislocated jaw, so I grabbed scissors and jabbed a hole in the bag.

The Gorgonzola was in a plastic-windowed box. I clawed at it, but the plastic resisted tearing like it was made of kevlar. It wasn't until I resorted to reading glasses, that I saw the "Lift Here" label. Easier said than done. A winch would have come in handy, and I vowed to do more bicep curls at the gym.

I had to engage my core to pry the lid off the sprouts container, and wrestling the celery from its two bands of sturdy yellow plastic required a martial arts "Ho!"

Wanting to add a sliced apple, I ended up ruining my manicure when I peeled off the three labels glued to its skin.

After this hard-fought lunch, I deserved a lush dessert, so I retrieved the Pepperidge Farm Milanos I hid three months ago. Drooling, I unfolded the foil top and tried yanking the bag apart. No luck. I put the bag back on the shelf, vowing to find a strength-training class that builds muscle by opening food containers.

We may suffer from wrap-grappling, but these recipes should easily open doors to fun cooking.

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Wakame-cabbage salad

Serves 3-4

2 cups finely chopped Savoy or Napa cabbage

.2 ounces dried Wakame (one-fifth of an ounce) Look for this seaweed in the Asian section of most food stores.

1/4 cup torn cilantro leaves

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Dressing

Whisk together:

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons Mirin

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

To soften and flavor the cabbage, mix it with the dressing and cover tightly. Toss it occasionally as it marinates in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Put the Wakame in a bowl and cover it with cold water. It will soften and fluff up in about ten minutes. Squeeze out every drop of water. Separate the pieces as you add it to the salad.

Finally, toss all the ingredients together and serve.

Rice medley with butternut squash

Serves 4

Anything with Butternut squash turns into comfort food for me.

1 pound butternut squash cubes. (I buy packaged cubes. Fortunately I remained unscathed while opening the package.)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups raw wild rice blend

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 apple, chopped

Toss the squash with the oil, garlic, and salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the squash is tender. Toss the squash around once during baking.

Cook the rice according to directions, but use veggie broth instead of water and add the butter to the pot.

When the rice is done, combine all the ingredients and serve.

Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer.