Gourds of any kind, edible or decorative, conjure up romantic notions within me. Maybe it’s because I miss the fall and winter and well, every season of New England.
Lemongrass is amazing! Not only is the plant a looker, it smells fabulous.
I have been watching videos on how to harvest, prepare, and propagate lemongrass. It’s time to use it in a recipe.
The only method for cooking risotto that I have tried is the traditional method of adding a 1/2 cup of liquid at a time and letting that liquid reduce while stirring often. I don’t mind this method, but I have done some research and have found recipes that suggest less tedious methods.
To Gabe’s chagrin, I am not a huge fan of adding processed oils to our food. I know fats add flavor and are important in our diet, but when possible, I prefer to use fats from whole foods like avocado or nuts and seeds. That being said, this tempeh was awesome fried up in canola oil. It tasted so different from the marinated baked tempeh I usually prepare.
Vegan yogurt is something new to me. Recently I tried a plain soy yogurt and a plain “Greek style” coconut yogurt. I have to say I prefer the taste of the coconut yogurt. The soy yogurt brand I tried was quite sweet for a plain yogurt. I was hoping for more of the astringent qualities of plain dairy yogurt. I sliced the tempeh and added it to a marinade of coconut yogurt, lime juice and salt. I have prepared this ahead of time and placed it in the refrigerator, but I have also prepared it and cooked it right away.
Don’t forget the greens!!! When the risotto was finished cooking I added raw baby kale leaves, letting the heat from the risotto wilt them. Spinach would work as well.
For the Tempeh
½ cup of plain coconut yogurt
2 TBSP lime juice
¼ tsp. salt
1-8oz package of tempeh, slice into ¼” strips
1 TBSP Canola oil for frying tempeh
For the Risotto
1 TBSP canola oil
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ TBSP fresh ginger, grated
1 TBSP fresh lemongrass, minced
2- 4” upper green part of lemongrass
1 cup Arborio rice
½ dry white wine
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup whole baby kale leaves
For the tempeh
- In a bowl mix together coconut yogurt, lime and salt. Add tempeh slices to yogurt mixture, coating well.
- Working in two batched heat ½ TBSP oil in frying pan over medium high heat. Add half of the coated tempeh in a single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the remaining ½ TBSP of oil and remaining tempeh.
- Put tempeh on a plate, cover with foil and hold in a 200F oven while cooking risotto.
For the Risotto
- Slice the upper green part of the lemongrass lengthwise and bruise the shoot by pressing down on it with the side of a chef’s knife and the palm of your hand. Place the shoots in a pot with the vegetable broth and bring to a slow rolling boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- In a separate pot heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and minced lemongrass. Cook for one minute.
- Add rice mixing it well with the aromatics and oil in the pot. After a few minutes rice will change color slightly and become pale, add white wine. Stir often until wine is completely absorbed.
- Add vegetable broth in ½ cup increments, avoiding the shoots which will be discarded at the end. With each ½ cup of broth stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Test rice after 15 minutes for doneness. Continue ½ cup cooking method until al dente.
My last post, Lettuce Start the Day, described how to prepare lettuce and greens to easily pull together a meal. Today I thought I would share this quick salad with you. We love having fresh salsa on hand and it is refreshing and filling over a big bed of lettuce.
For me, this recipe comes together quickly because we always have washed and chopped lettuce in the refrigerator, frozen beans (cooked from dry), and corn in the freezer. To use the frozen beans I cover the amount I need in cold water and let them sit for a minute then I put them in a strainer to drain the water or if you have enough time you could simply defrost the beans in the refrigerator. If I don’t have fresh corn I use a cup of frozen corn and place it on a dry pan over medium heat until it starts to turn golden brown. Continue reading Salsa Salad
Lettuce Start the Day with a Salad
Gabe and I start each morning with a huge bowl of lettuce. We each eat about 4 or 5 heaping claw-fuls (shape hand into claw and pick up as much as you can) of chopped lettuce. The contents of our bowls are different, but we both stick with the same meal each morning because it creates a routine that is quick and easy to follow and I always know what I need to buy at the market. Gabe opts for red and green leaf lettuce with sliced or cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, celery, and a tablespoon of vinegar. My bowl contains red and green leaf lettuce with one tablespoon of nutritional yeast and half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Sometimes we add nuts or seeds to the salad depending on whether we have a bagel or bread with coconut oil or nut butter. We have worked our way up to that amount and not everyone enjoys a big bowl of raw greens for breakfast, hence the increasingly popular green smoothie.
One of the reasons I like to start the day with a ton of lettuce is that it fills me up and gets my digestion going. Lettuce is comprised of mostly water and is a good source of vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and chlorophyll. We have all heard that the darker the green, the better, and I say mix it up. Surprisingly Gabe’s favorite lettuce, iceberg, provides a good amount of choline. Lettuce barely has any fat or calories so we always add fat and protein to our breakfast to ensure we get enough fuel to get us through the morning. Our routine is green and red leaf in the morning, but we do add lots of other greens and lettuce during the day so that we eat a variety of the good stuff during the week. I plan meals around which greens and other produce looks the freshest at the market. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season is one way to do this. I must admit though, I like the variety that is available throughout the seasons these days.
We eat at least 8 heads of lettuce a week just for breakfast. For lunch or dinner on days when I am in a hurry or we feel like we need a lighter meal I will split a head of romaine lettuce between the two of us and make the Classic Vegan Caesar With Avocado & Chickpeas from the Post Punk Kitchen website by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or I will throw a cup of beans on top of the salad and make a dressing which usually contains blended avocado, tahini, or soaked and blended cashews.
Always having rinsed, spun, and chopped greens on hand makes it easy for me to come up with a meal on the fly. I prep lettuce and any other greens I have as soon as I can when I return from the market.
There are many methods for cleaning greens, find what works for you. Remove tough outer leaves and the base parts of the leaves as they can be bitter. To clean the greens I fill a large bowl with water and a little distilled vinegar and swish the greens around to remove any dirt or bugs.
I rinse them well in fresh water. Then I use a salad spinner to remove excess water from the greens. You could also use a clean lint free towel and lay the leaves out flat on the towel and gently roll the towel up from one end so that the towel absorbs the water.
Removing as much water as possible will allow the cut greens to keep longer in the refrigerator. The more delicate the greens, like mustard greens and spinach, the drier you will want them to be before refrigerating them. I like to chop the lettuce or greens that have large or tough leaves (collard greens, kale, Swiss Chard, etc.) into bite size pieces. Then all I have to do is shovel some lettuce out of the container when I want a salad, sandwich, burrito, or wrap. Washed and cut collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard, and so on can be easily transferred from the fridge into a pot or pan if I want to sauté or steam them.
When we are traveling we will buy organic pre-washed greens. Our favorites being Organic Girl and Olivia’s Organics. When buying the packaged stuff make sure you take a good look at it from all sides. Choose a box that has dry, fresh looking greens throughout. Also smell it! If the plastic container allows air to pass through it, I smell it while gently squeezing the box. You will know if you smell rotting greens. Keeping them chilled will help keep them fresh.
Enjoy an assortment of greens any way you want throughout the week!