Sunday, July 31, 2011

Curried sausage and okra

After 2 weeks of missing the farmer's market (out of town for one, ultimate frisbee tournament during another), I came back to this week's market with a vengeance! Only kidding. But I did hit that thing harder that Rush Limbaugh hits his pill cabinet, and came away with even more delicious goodies than Rush would have.

After filling my bag with okra, red potatoes, green beans, red onions, garlic, and a myriad other veggies, one farmer commented, as he placed a few yellow onions into my eagerly awaiting bag, "you've got quite the bounty there." Indeed I had, and I intended to cook it up as soon as I got home. Unfortunately, the activities of the day - namely training in the park and a Louisville Vegetarian Club meeting - kept me busy until 4 pm when I got my first crack at these locally grown treats.

Peering into my completely stocked fridge, I'll admit I was somewhat overwhelmed by the possibilities. What to do with all of these peppers, onions, garlic, okra, potatoes, etc.? Since I like a good challenge, I decided to try my hand at making a delicious okra dish. Now, I'm not saying okra isn't tasty; freshly-picked from the plant it has quite a delicious, broccoli-like flavor. Despite this initial crispness of flavor, I've found it hard to cook okra into something flavorful without frying it. I thought perhaps infusing it with the hot spice of peppers would be a good idea, and perhaps add some other crunchy vegetables to accompany it. And so came about this sausage and okra curried dish.

2 large okra pods, cut into 1/4'' cross sections
3 celery stalks, halved and sliced small
1 large carrot, halved and sliced small
1 small red onion, sliced small
2 small yellow onions, sliced small
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 red potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1 red serrano pepper, diced
1 green serrano pepper, diced
2 Tofurkey Italian sausages, halved and cut small
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp coriander
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp water
1 tsp brown rice vinegar

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat
2. Add okra, potatoes, water and vinegar, cook 8-10 minutes and stir occasionally
3. Once potatoes begin to brown, add remaining ingredients, cook 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally
4. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Love Burgers

In the past, I haven't been too inclined to fill my diet with faux-meats. When Kroger decides to put LightLife Gimme Lean Beef on 50% sale, however, I'll buy a few rolls and sneak them into my normal meals. So with it being Summer and all, I decided I could make a good burger with this immitation meat. While the lightlife creations are great substitutes, there's not much to them taste-wise, so I felt the need to kick them up a notch (do I owe Emeril royalties for that?). To add that extra oomph, I added cayenne pepper, turmeric, black pepper, and a few veggies to "beef" up these faux-beef patties. Everything I added is easy to grow or find, and takes very little prep time. The best part about making these patties is mushing them together with your bare hands! I love making messes... probably because I love cleaning. Anyway. Who wants a burger?

1 roll LightLife Gimme Lean Beef
1 can black beans
1/2 large white onion
1 stalk celery
1 large carrot
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp oil

1. Drain and rinse the black beans, pour into large bowl
2. Smash beans with the back-side of a fork until they create a thick paste
3. Dice onion, celery and carrot, dump into large bowl with basil and beans
4. Add LightLife to large bowl, mix ingredients together by hand
5. Once ingredients mixed, sprinkle spices evenly over top, mix again
6. Form mixture into patties
7. Heat 1 tbsp oil in skillet on medium high
8. Add 2 or 3 patties to skillet, cook 5 min on each side (or until brown)
9. Add more oil if necessary, cook remaining patties
10. Remove patties from skillet, set on plate covered by paper towel to remove excess oil, or directly onto bun for eating!

This will make 8-10 small patties or 6-8 large patties, but probably only 5 heart shaped patties. Add any toppings you like; I enjoyed mine on whole wheat bread with tomato, onion, sprouts, veganaise and barbeque sauce.

Spinach Skillet Surprise!

Just a few short weeks ago, I was preparing for a 15 hour drive home to Connecticut. This required all sorts of packing, rest, and caffeination - not to mention cooking. As with most people who set out on long road trips, I was concerned about the food available to me along the sides of highways as I passed through the states... especially Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which have given me serious meal worries in the past. So I took matters into my own hands and cooked up pretty much everything I had left in the way of food in my house. What I made turned out to be a delicious, healthy, and filling creation that lasted 4 meals and kept me out of the queues infront of the roadside fast food vendors, and it took very little preparation!

1 1/2 cup lentils
1 cup brown rice
1 can black beans
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1'' cubes
2 cups fresh spinach
3 roma tomatoes, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp freshly chopped thyme for garnish
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup mushroom broth

1. Add lentils, rice, and potatoes in a large skillet with high sides. Pour in water and broth, turn the burner to medium high
2. Chop celery, measure out spices
3. After liquid begins to simmer, stir in remaining ingredients minus the spinach, reduce heat to medium and cover skillet
4. Let cook for 15 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed/evaporated, remove from heat, stir in the spinach and let sit covered for 5 minutes
5. Garnish with 2 tsp freshly chopped thyme (optional)

If you have any mushrooms, I suggest adding those.  I was fresh out when I made this, but I think they would add great texture and taste to the dish.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thai curried noodles

I pulled this recipe out of the latest issue of Vegetarian Times, Thai Curried Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu, page 38. It's delicious, has a great sweet and spicy kick to it, and is very easy to make. The original recipe called for 1 cup of shallots, but I substituted these for onions and purple garlic because that's what I had on hand. Also, the recommended amount of curry paste wasn't quite as spicey as I would have liked. I added another Tbsp. (3 total), and that was perfect. The lime wedges for garnish add a fantastic layer to the flavor complexity of this dish, so I recommend not skipping them.

2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
    plus 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
2 Tbs. yellow or red Thai curry paste (I used red)
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 15-oz. can light coconut milk
3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 12-oz. package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 oz. dry fettuccine
5 cups broccoli florets
6 lime wedges (1 lime) for garnish

1) Heat oil in medium pot over medium-high heat.
2) Saute shallots in oil 2 minutes
3) Add cilantro stems, curry paste, curry powder, and turmeric; cook 1 minute
4) Stir in coconut milk, broth, and brown sugar; bring to simmer
5) Reduce heat to medium, cook 5 minutes
6) Add tofu, simmer 10 minutes
7) Cook fettuccine in large pot according to directions on package
8) Add broccoli to pot for last 2 minutes of cooking
9) Drain, cover pasta with tofu-curry mixture
10) Mix well, serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro

Summer squash burritos

If I'm looking for a simple dish to make that can last for a few meals, I often turn to burritos. Now that summer is here and vegetables are fresh and crunchy, there's almost no need to even cook your ingredients before you put them together. With the varied selection this time of year brings, you can also mix up your choices to match your mood.

This is a squash-infused take on my favorite burritos, with most of the items diced while fresh and tossed in the tortillas. Since the squash (both yellow and zucchini) can be a bit chewier than the onions and peppers, I decided to cook them in a skillet for a short period of time to soften them up. Replacing the lettuce with sprouts adds a noticeable crunch, as well as changes the flavor to better match the other items.

Package of tortillas (I used spinach tortillas)
2 cups of whole grain brown rice
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow squash
1 medium white onion
1 red bell pepper
1 greed bell pepper
1 medium tomato
1 can of beans (black or pinto)
1 handful of sprouts
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp cilantro leaves
Salsa or topping of choice
1) Combine rice and 3 cups of water in a large pot.
2) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes
3) While rice is cooking, cut squash in quarters lengthwise, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4) Add squash and 1/4 cup water to large skillet on medium heat
5) Cook until water evaporates, remove from heat
6) While squash are cooking, dice peppers, onions, and tomato
7) Drain beans, set aside
8) When rice is finished cooking, drain then mix with lime juice and cilantro in a large bowl
9) Build your burritos!