To make this recipe strictly Paleo, omit the miso. And, depending on who you listen to, probably the rice vinegar.
But then you’ve got no dressing. And definitely no umami. So…nah.
This recipe is a perfect illustration of my on-again, off-again relationship with the Paleo diet. I love its emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods. But I won’t blindly follow its every rule against my better judgment. And my judgment tells me that the highest concentration of 100-year-olds on the planet living in the Blue Zone of Okinawa, Japan can’t be wrong. Of course there are many lifestyle factors at play. But miso soup is a staple in their diet, and has been for centuries.
So. Sorry, not sorry.
What’s good for the centenarians of Okinawa, is good enough for me. Until further notice, this miso dressing is happening. Not every day, of course, but whenever I get that umami urge which miso satisfies so well.
Looking for the perfect dressing to my asian salad bowl, I adapted this from Tal Ronnen’s cookbook The Conscious Cook. As I mentioned before, I’m no longer vegan, but I still own a shipload of vegan cookbooks that I turn to when I want to crank up the flavor on the many plant-based foods I love to eat. Tal’s book is one of the best out there, owing to his background as an accomplished chef with training in fine French cuisine and, I suppose, his status as a former meat eater determined not to sacrifice rich flavor when he made the switch to being a vegan. He became known nationwide as the chef who prepared vegan meals for Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day vegan cleanse.
The original *vegan* recipe calls for using light agave nectar as a sweetener, but since I prefer honey (which is strictly prohibited in a vegan diet), that’s what I list here. Use whatever you’re comfortable with. Also, I give the option to add roasted instead of fresh garlic, for those looking to play around with more depth of flavor.
Chef Ronnen served this over a bed of arugula, cooked fingerling potatoes and blanched green beans, but you can pair it with almost any side dish, or asian-themed salad. If you want extra for leftovers, I recommend doubling the recipe.
*Non-vegan/Non-Paleo* Miso Dressing, adapted from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen
- 2 tablespoons yellow miso paste
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced (or 1 whole roasted garlic clove, see below)
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
Directions: Combine all ingredients except oil and chives in a blender, then pulse. With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Fold in the chives.
How to roast garlic: Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil. Slice the top off a bulb of garlic, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on top of the exposed cloves and rub it in. Wrap the bulb in foil and roast on the lined pan for 40 minutes. When cooled, squeeze the whole cloves out of the garlic skin intact. Use as needed. Note: It’s more cost-effective to roast several bulbs of garlic at a time, and keep them stored in a glass jar in the fridge. You can use them all week long in soups, stews, sautées, spreads, sauces, and dressings, to lend a sweeter and creamier garlic flavor to any dish.