Thermos 3-Tier Bento #26

My version of the Cucumber Salad with Spicy Dressing in American Wholefoods Cuisine (my recipe below), some orange slices surrounding a piece of British chocolate from my friends in England, and a soup I improvised with some frozen vegetable dumplings in my freezer.

These veggie dumplings are not wrapped in the usual wheat-based wrapper, but a soy-based one; they're gluten free and have more protein. I picked them up from a local Asian market a while ago. Turning dumplings into soup is a quick, comforting meal. I just made the soup broth out of some Better than Bouillon vegetable stock, soy sauce, a bit of garlic infused hot sauce, and a bit of sesame oil, boiled the dumplings in it, and added matchstick-cut carrots and mushrooms and sliced scallions to it during the last minute of cooking time. I topped the finished product with some green tops of the scallions. I would happily make this soup again.

As for the cucumber salad, you'll see me using more of my cookbooks now, I hope; I realized I have a lot of cookbooks and I'm becoming a lot more comfortable with tweaking recipes to make them vegan. I still love online recipes and the ingenuity of so many vegan cooks out here, and I've loved checking out the vegan cookbooks from my public library, but there's still a lot of appeal in the old volumes I have at home. It may be because I'm a historian, but I find old recipes oddly comforting. Hardly anything is new and trendy in my home library--I generally pick up old cookbooks for super cheap at my public library's periodic sales, often for 10 cents each or so. That's where I picked up the 2003 edition of 1983's classic vegetarian tome, American Wholefoods Cuisine.

Many old recipes tend to use basic ingredients sold at any grocery store, and fewer pieces of specialty equipment, so they're ideal for someone in my situation. A lot of the recipes aren't vegan so they need help, though. And I usually cut them down to a more manageable size for me. So here we are: a 1980s-inspired salad that goes really well with Asian meals.

Cucumber Salad with Spicy Asian Dressing
Serves: 2

1 medium cucumber
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of your favorite honey substitute (I used Bee Free Honee but you could also use agave nectar)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Zatarain's Cajun hot sauce, which adds a nice garlic flavor, but any hot sauce will work)
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Slice or dice the cucumber. You can peel it first if you like, but I just left the peel on and it was fine. Set aside.

Mix all remaining ingredients well except sesame seeds. Make sure you've dissolved the sweetener and salt. Add cucumber and toss to coat. Allow to sit for a bit to allow flavors to meld. When plating/packing, garnish with sesame seeds.


  1. I love that sort of cucumber salad (minus the spicy for me), it is so refreshing!
    I don't know why, but I have never thought to add dumplings like that to a soup. I can get vegan gyoza fairly easily, so I should definitely try that.

    1. Gyoza work, too! I used to make soup with mini wontons, too. You can make almost anything into a soup.

  2. That soup looks amazing! I love throwing stuff together to make a soup and dumplings in broth with veggies is a perfect easy dish that tastes like it took way more effort. The cucumber salad is a perfect side, I'm sure it added a lot of freshness to the meal. Yay for more British chocolate!

    1. It's funny--I never cared much for cucumbers growing up and now I eat cucumber salads in practically every iteration.

  3. Oooh, i love love love cucumbers! I make something similar at least once a week, usually called chinese or Szechuan cucumber salad- although the version i make uses a bit of black vinegar which is like chinese basalmic, has a very specific slightly sweet flavor so I don’t add any sweetner.
    The soup sounds really easy and delicious! Those dumplings sound like a great find, i’ll have to look more closely at frozen dumplings at my favorite asian grocery to see if i can find some.
    I actually just learned today that it’s traditional to eat vegetarian buddhist style meals on the actual day of chinese new year, feb 5th this year. Thinking i’ll make myself a new to me dish to celebrate ;)

    1. I've seen Chinese vinegar in some recipes but I don't know where to buy it. I'll look out for it next time I'm at an Asian market.

      That's cool about Chinese New Year! What are you going to make?


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