Crispy Eggplant Curry

I’m growing these adorable lil Japanese eggplants. They happen to be delicious. I curried them up.

1 lb eggplant sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds (if using a bigger eggplant variety, try cubes)
1 white onion, sliced
12 oz bamboo shoots in chili oil
1 1/2 Cups green peas (I use frozen)
2 large springs basil (I’m growing purple basil so I use that. Thai basil would be nice too)
13 oz (1 can) coconut milk
3 TB green curry powder
enough sesame oil/ veggie oil blend to pan fry the eggplant

Salt the eggplant and set it aside to drain. Slice the onion, chiffonade the basil, eat a handful of thawed peas.

When the eggplant has released much of it’s fluid, rinse it and drain it well. A salad spinner is great for this. Heat a little veggie oil seasoned with sesame oil in a wok. Stir fry the eggplant over medium-high heat until brown and crispy. Transfer to plate to rest.

Add onion to pan and let the sugars caramelize. When onion has a nice brown color all over, add the bamboo shoots and chili oil, basil, and peas. Stir fry 2 minutes then turn heat to medium. Add coconut milk and green curry powder. Stir to combine. Cover and let heat through to bubbling.

Serve over rice.

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Garden Picadillo

Picadillo is a different dish throughout Latin America and even into the Philippines. The Cuban version is what most people are familiar with, made with ground beef, raisins, and olives. Plenty of layers of flavor. This version is from the garden. It is totally vegan, but you can add ground meat or cheese if you like.

1 lb bell peppers, any color, chopped
1 lb mild green chiles, chopped, I used New Mexico peppers
1 yellow onion, diced
12 oz pigeon peas, cooked, drained, and rinsed
12 oz black beans, cooked, drained, and rinsed
12 oz salsa verde*
1 Cup sliced green olives
1 TB cumin
1 TB chili powder
3 TB olive oil
1/2 Cup raisins (optional)

Put everything except the salsa and olives in large skillet or chef’s pan over medium heat. Saute, stirring often until onions are soft and translucent. Add salsa and olives. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to let flavors marry. Serve over rice.

* I make my own salsa verde with chiles from my garden and tomatillos. Trader Joe’s and 365 both have good salsa verde off the shelf.

I don’t put the raisins in for two reasons: I don’t care for raisins and my dogs get people food. Dogs can’t eat raisins. Or grapes.

Chicken with Goat Cheese Cream Sauce over Herbed Rice

This is a family favorite. I like to use boneless skinless thighs because we like dark meat. You can use breasts or chicken on the bone. Just be sure to adjust cooking times for meat on the bone. This is also a pretty budget friendly meal. It’s great served with a crisp green salad. I make it in about 30 minutes.

Start the rice:
2 C basmati rice
1/2 C slivered almonds
2 TB Summer savory
2 TB tarragon
4 C stock or water (if using water, add salt after rice is cooked to develop the flavor)

In a hot pan, toast the almonds. Stir and heat for 3 minutes until the nuts release a nice aroma. Add rice. Toast 2 minutes more. Add herbs and liquid. Stir well. Cover and reduce to low. Simmer until rice is cooked through.

For the Chicken and Sauce:

1 lb chicken pieces, rinsed and dried
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 oz goat cheese
olive oil

Seasoned Flour:
1/2 C brown rice flour
2 tsp black pepper
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt

Heat a little oil in a large saute pan on medium high. Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture and saute until a nice brown crust is on both sides. About 12 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Add onions, 2 TB olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Sweat the onions to translucent. Add mushrooms. Cook 4 minutes more. Add any leftover seasoned flour. Stir to make a roux. Add water to make a sauce, about 3/4 C. I don’t use stock here because the flavor of the seasoned flour is very intense. Then stir in the 2 oz goat cheese. Stir until smooth.

Add the chicken back to the pan. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve chicken and cream sauce over rice.

Cabbage Rolls

I ordered red cabbage from the CSA and got green. Hooray seasonal availability! Green cabbage usually gets turned into slaw or salad, but cabbage rolls are hot and tangy! These can be stuffed in a variety of ways for meat eaters or vegans.

Prep the cabbage:

In your large 8qt stock pot, boil salted water. Peel cabbage, separating the largest leaves. You’ll need the 8 largest ones for this dish. Save the heart for another tasty dish.

Wash the cabbage leaves well to remove any sand. Plunge the leaves into the boiling water for about 3 minutes until they are soft enough to fold. Shock in cold water to stop cooking and cool them enough to handle.

Meat filling:

1 Cup brown rice
1/2 lb loose sausage (we have a great local pork breakfast sausage that is well seasoned, but any of your favorite will do)
2/3 Cup carrots, chopped in food processor
1/2 Cup mushrooms, chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced, about 1 Cup
2 TB olive oil

Saute everything together, breaking up sausage into a fine crumble and coating rice in fat. Just as meat is browning, add 2 Cups water. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 40 minutes, until rice is cooked through.

Tangy Tomato Sauce:

28 oz strained tomatoes

1/4 Cup red wine vinegar

2 TB sugar

salt and pepper

Simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved and fully incorporated.

For vegan filling:    Sub vegan sausage, lentils, chopped mushrooms, or a combination for the sausage. Season with 1 tsp each sage, thyme, and rosemary. Sub vegetable broth for the water.

Scoop 1/8 of the stuffing mixture into one cabbage leaf. Fold edges over and roll like a tortilla. Tuck the roll tight. Fill all cabbage leaves.

Rolls waiting to be sauced

Scoop 1 Cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking dish. Place the rolls snugly together. Top with remaining tomato sauce. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Rice Noodles in Miso Broth

Hooray! I visited the Asian market today! In the produce section, they sell fresh rice noodles. These are soft and raw and cook in just a few minutes, just like fresh Italian pasta.

2 liters filtered water
3 TB red miso paste
1 lb fresh rice noodles
6 oz mushrooms, sliced thin
6 oz carrot, julienne
1 bunch spring onions, sliced into thin rounds
2 TB ponzu sauce

optional: 1 lb thin sliced beef, shredded cooked chicken or pork, tofu cubes, peeled shrimp

Place water and miso over a high burner to bring to a soft boil. Add in carrots, mushrooms, and meat/tofu. Stir gently to prevent protein from sticking. When broth begins to boil again, add fresh rice noodles. Simmer for 4-6 until rice noodles are cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in ponzu sauce and onion. Serve immediately.

For added nutrition, you can add in additional vegetables. These veggie suggestions are grouped by cooking time.

Add any of these vegetables with the carrots and mushrooms: shredded red or green cabbage, baby corn, thin sliced Thai eggplant, Asian long beans

These vegetables should be added with the spring onions before serving: mung bean sprouts, shredded napa cabbage, shredded bok choy

Lentils and Rice

This is an easy side dish that matches any main. This is a huge recipe that many of you will want to divide in half for regular sized families. If you have teenagers, then this sized batch is for you.

1 small yellow onion

5 TB olive oil

3 Cups rice

6 Cups broth

1 TB each: ground coriander, granulated garlic, cumin, and oregano

1 tsp saffron

salt and pepper to taste

2 Cups cooked or canned lentils, drained

Saute onion in oil for 5 minutes until onion is translucent and begins to caramelize. Add rice. Stir to coat evenly. Add broth and seasonings. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in lentils. Cover and let rest with heat off for 5 minutes.

A great side dish to fish, chicken, or grilled veggies.

Sweet and Sour Chicken, Pork, or Tofu

Sweet and Sour is very very easy. Anything can be made with the method- any protein and any veggie. Also, a gluten-free tempura batter is simple and traditional. Gluten-free limits breaded and fried at most restaurants. Here is how to get the ultimate crisped meaty pieces with minimal effort.

Sweet n Sour Chicken over Brown Rice

For the chicken, pork, tofu, or tempura veggies:

Cut 1 lb of chicken, pork, or tofu into equal sized pieces. If using shrimp, medium shrimp are best. Having all the pieces the same size will give you an even cooking time and proper bite sizes. You can also batter and fry broccoli florets, sweet potato cubes, onion rings, zucchini chunks, or other veggies for a soy-free vegan version.

Make a tempura batter from

1/2 Cup corn starch

1/2 Cup rice flour

3/4 Cup filtered water

1/2 tsp salt

cayenne pepper to taste

This should coat at least 1 lb of meat or tofu. Veggies tend to hold batter in their crevasses– see broccoli florets– so you may want to do 50% more batter if you are tempura frying veggies. Also, since this is a very fun meal for guests, try doubling it to feed tons of people!

I fry in sesame oil or peanut oil. Sesame oil has a lower smoking temperature. A blend of the two will give you the best flavor. Sesame is fine to use by itself or with another veggie oil if peanut allergens are a concern. Heat about 1 inch of oil in your wok. Test the oil for readiness by putting a drop of batter into the oil. It should fry up crisp very quickly. Also, you can put the handle of a wooden spoon in your oil. Bubbles will form around it when the oil is hot enough.

Carefully add your battered meat or veg, about 6-8 pieces at a time depending on the size of your wok. Do not crowd the food. Let fry on one side for about 3 minutes until GBD (golden brown delicious). Flip food for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a towel to drain. Repeat until all battered meat and veggies are GBD.

For the sweet and sour:

2 bell peppers (I like red), sliced

1, 14 oz can of fair trade pineapple chunks, liquid drained and reserved

3/4 Cup rice vinegar

3 TB corn starch

soy sauce to taste

Mix rice vinegar, corn starch, and pineapple juice together. Set aside.

Drain off extra oil from wok. Toss in bell peppers and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add pineapple chunks. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add liquid mixture and stir fry for 3 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Toss in cooked tempura meat or veggies. Coat well. Serve over rice.

If the red color you see in restaurants is important to you, you can use a veggie based food coloring or beet juice to color your sauce.

Red Beans and Rice

This is a great way to feed tons of people. It’s a phenomenal dish to make ahead because it gets more delicious when it sits in the fridge. The beans can also be made in a crock pot– just transfer the sauteed veggies and simmer on low.

Red Beans over Rice

1 lb dry red beans, soaked, drained, and cooked in filtered water

1 Cup diced celery
1 Cup diced carrot
1 1/2 Cups diced yellow onion
4+ cloves garlic, minced
3 TB evoo
2 TB dried thyme
1 tsp salt

Saute chopped veggies, oil, and seasoning while beans finish cooking. Heating the dried herbs with fat helps develop the flavor. The salt will help the onions sweat and release their moisture, preventing sticking or burning. Let the veggies cook until the onions are translucent and soft.

Add 3/4 lb cajun sausage (andouille is great, I have local pork chorizo that I love!), chopped or crumbled. For a vegan or vegetarian version, use a meatless sausage the crumbles well.

Saute over medium heat to render fat. The veggies will develop a nice orangey glow. If making a non-meat version, add 2-3 TB additional evoo.

Drain cooked beans. Gently add them to veggies and sausage. (Or if you are making this in a crock pot, transfer everything to the crock pot now.)

Add
1 Cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 1/2 Cups tomato puree
2 TB cajun seasoning blend

Simmer covered on low for 20-30 minutes until flavors marry. Serve over rice.

**Quick tip: Use canned red beans. Find BPA free canned beans at: http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/food-and-cooking/product-guide-bpafree-canned-foods-107985

Chicken and Rice Soup

Hail to the chicken carcass! I roast a chicken now and then. We actually prefer to use the meat for salads and sandwiches then make soup rather than eat it roasted with traditional sides. Poultry cooked on the bone has a richer flavor. And since these chickens worked hard to grow tasty, I feel obligated to cook them to their tastiest.

Place chicken carcass in a large (8 qt) stock pot and fill with filtered water 2 inches shy of covering the chicken. Put the lid on and set to simmer for about an hour. You can also do this in your crock pot for 3+ hours.

Once broth has reached a rich color, remove bones, leaving behind chicken bits. Add to your pot:

2 onions, chopped

1 stalk celery, cleaned and chopped (I include the leaves)

1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced

3 TB butter (Since there was no skin, the extra fat makes a world of difference to the flavor)

4 cloves garlic

3 bay leaves

2 TB thyme

1 tsp celery seed

2 1/2 Cups rice

Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes. Or, in a crock pot, let soup cook on low for up to 5 hours.

Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Fusion Black Bean Springrolls

These Black Bean Spring Rolls use a Latin inspired filling in a very Asian rice wrapper. These are perfect at room temp. You can make them ahead and serve them as a unique party appetizer or as an amazing vegan lunch.

Filling:

1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
1 cup sweet corn kernels
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced avocado
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce minced (minus seeds) plus 1 TB adobo sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Wrapper: circular rice wrappers, 8 inch diameter.

Mix up all the ingredients and chill for 4 hours or over night for flavors to blend.

The rice paper wrapping technique is simple to learn. I use a 9 inch pie plate to wet my wrappers. It helps me from making a mess. Soak rice wrappers in hot water for 10-15 seconds. Transfer to your work surface. I use my extra large wood cutting board. Also, keep a clean kitchen towel next to you in case you drip water.

Fill with 1/4 cup of filling and roll. Work one at a time and keep a clean towel handy to sop up drips. Rice wrappers require patience and technique, so if you’ve never used them before, they are scrumptiously delicate. You’ll get the hang of it after the 3rd one. Refrigerate them if you’re going to eat them later, but I think they are tastiest at room temp.

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