Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In season: Beans

Green beans, to be exact. I bought a huge number of them at the farmer's market this weekend. So I blanched most of them so I can freeze them, and the rest get added to this pasta dish.

1. Boil some water for pasta. I used 1/2 a package of whole wheat spaghetti.
2. Trim green beans, dice a small tomato and cut a half a red pepper into slices, then halve those. (Can be substituted to something else handy, but preferably sweet.)
3. Cook the pasta.
4. Sautee the beans with olive oil and garlic until almost soft, about 3 or 4 minutes. Next add the pepper, and give it a minute to soften up. Deglaze the pan with a little wine (and I do mean a little-- a tablespoon or two!) before adding the tomatoes and letting it reduce even further.
5. Drain the pasta. Add a little butter or olive oil if you're feeling indulgent. Toss the pasta with the veggies, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese or fresh grated parmesean.

Yum.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Twice Fried Tofu

Confucious says:
Anything good fried once is even better fried twice. 
Oh. That wasn't Confucius? It was something of a motto at the Big E? Huh...

Ok, so maybe this dish is better called "Stir-fried Fried Tofu".

1. Cut thin strips from a half a block of tofu. I prefer firm or extra firm for frying. Dry them with paper towels before liberally coating all sides in flour.
2. Heat some oil, preferably peanut, in a wok. When it gets nice and hot, fry those tofu strips until they are a lovely golden brown. You have to do it in batches, but that means you can use a lot less oil.
3. Choose veggies for your stir fry, and cut to appropriate size.
4. Clean the wok, when it has cooled slightly, so that the blacked flour goop on the bottom doesn't cloud your dinner. Add more oil and heat it back up.
5. While it heats, make the sauce. In a small bowl combine:
  • 1 part chili oil (to taste)
  • 1 part sesame oil
  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part rice vinager
  • 1 part sherry or Chinese cooking wine
  • 4-8 parts soy sauce
6. Stir fry garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds. Add onion, cook until translucent. Add other vegetables. Finally, add tofu, then immediately, the sauce. If you want it thicker, add some corn starch or flour dissolved in a little water.  Serve hot, over rice. Eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some thoughts for a meatless Monday

So, Monday for me is meatless Monday. When going out to eat, this can limit your options, but when you pack your own lunch, life is limitless!

I made two delicious dishes that are quite good for a meatless meal, either lunch or dinner. Both made enough for one of each for me. These will be in the following posts.

But for now, I wanted to share with you a discovery I just made, but which you may have made long ago...

Pita pocket sandwiches.

Ok, well there was always the gyro, but who among us has a gyro spit and plenty of ground lamb at home? So I started with lunch meat, but not good for Mondays.
So I stuffed mine with hummus (roasted garlic, yum), arugula and red peppers. Any kind of yummy green would be good, and any raw veggies cut into approximately bite sized bits. Also baba ganou or cheesy spreads would be awesome too.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meatless Mondays

There's a good piece on NPR today about Meatless Mondays here. Unless you're already stricter than that, I think it's a great idea. Whether you're concerned about your health, the environment, your budget, or your waistline, eating a bit less meat is bound to help.

I find that the trick is to make meals where you just don't miss the meat. For example, make a big salad, or breakfast for dinner (minus the bacon, if you can bear it). Vegetable curry, or pasta primavera, or pad thai with tofu make great Monday night dinners.

Tonight, I made rice and beans to celebrate finding fresh tortillas (and with them, the location of the mysterious missing Baltimore Mexicans!) and peach salsa to celebrate the bounty of peaches right now. Add a little sour cream and some cheese, and boy, what a delicious meal!

Beans:
Either cook some dried beans according to package directions, or rinse a can of black beans. Heat up a skillet with a little bit of oil, and add the cooked, drained, rinsed beans. As they heat, start mashing them up and slowly stirring. You can add a little oil or broth or water to thin them if they're thicker than you like. I like to top mine with some sour cream and cheese, but that's being decadent. :-)

Rice:
In a pan, heat a little oil. Toast 1 cup of long grain white rice for a few minutes in the oil. Then add some stock (I used chicken, I know it's meatless Monday but I didn't have veggie on hand!) or water. Add onions, diced jalepenos if you like, and some of this glorious amazingness (which is sadly not gluten free):

Then simmer for about 20 minutes. Toss in tomatoes a few minutes from the end if you like. I also added some frozen corn.


Peach Salsa:
From "Real Food Has Curves".

FRESH PEACH SALSA
There are no tomatoes here, just sweet peaches. Tomatoes are firmer and almost meatier; by contrast, peaches offer a luxurious richness. That said, if you can’t find a good peach, go for plums, apricots, or nectarines. Try this easy salsa on top of a baked potato with a dollop of sour cream or alongside some rotisseried chicken picked up at the market. Keep connecting the taste of those peaches to pleasure in your brain.
1½ pounds ripe medium peaches, pitted and diced (about 4 or 5 peaches)
Up to 1 medium fresh jalapeƑo chile, seeded and minced
½ cup red bell pepper, seeded and diced (see Note)
½ cup red onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves, 2½ tablespoons stemmed thyme leaves, or 2 tablespoons minced mint leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
Stir everything together in a serving bowl. If you want to make the salsa ahead of time, omit the salt and store the mixture, covered, in the fridge for up to 2 days. Salt will leach liquid from the mixture, turning it watery during storage—so stir in the salt at the last minute.
Note: To seed and core a bell pepper, stand it up on your cutting board with the stem end facing up. Holding the stem, use a large knife to slice one side off the pepper, leaving the seeds attached to the core. Continue making more slices around the pepper, always leaving the seeds and core intact. Once all the wedges have been removed around the pepper, slice off any white membranes on their insides, discard the core, and prepare the pepper as directed in the recipe.



MAKES 8 SERVINGS

Available on the Internet here! Thanks, Amazon.