Reaching way back to my mental filing cabinet from sophomore year of college, I remember my Biological Psychology professor, Dr. Best, emphasizing the brain's role in determining cravings. Specifically, he would consistently bring up the fact that sweet, salty, crunchy, and greasy foods are addicting because they trigger our brains to release oodles of serotonin (aka The Happiness Neurotransmitter). While I believe 25% of his brain brought this up because he wanted us to be prepared for his excruciatingly difficult exams, I'm certain that the other 75% just brought it up because it gave him an excellent excuse to lecture about his love of ice cream, Cheetos, and pizza. This tidbit is among the 10% of information I retained from class. The other 90% of information was likely repressed due to the stress of studying 25+ hours for each of four very comprehensive exams. Despite the immense amount of content covered, this was still one of my favorite undergrad psych classes. Lectures about snack foods and the brain = an undergraduate psych major's dream come true.
So, what does all this talk about psychology and cravings have to do with this post? Well, this Pea Shoot and Pear Slaw is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, crunchy, and greasy. Hence, it could be deemed "The Happy Slaw" due to the likelihood of it inducing the release of serotonin. If nothing else, it tastes awesome. Each bite packs a balance of sweet, salty, crunchy, and slightly "greasy" (from the sesame oil) that will lure you back in for more. Most importantly, this is a much healthier serotonin-enhancing alternative to Cheetos and ice cream.
Pea Shoot and Pear Slaw with Sesame Dressing (Serves 2-4)
* 4 oz pea shoots
* 9 oz snow peas
* 1 oz fresh chives
* 2 firm pears
* sesame seeds
* 2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
* 3 tbsp sesame oil
* 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
* 1 tbsp rice vinegar
1. Wash and drain the pea shoots. Chop the chives into 1-inch pieces. Cut the snow peas into thin matchstick strips. Peel, core, and cut the pears into thin strips.
2. To make the sesame dressing: combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until emulsified.
3. Combine all slaw ingredients in a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss lightly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.