Needs a little protein

Brown-rice salad with spinach and tomatoes

Green vegetable stir fry

Thanks, feta!

Thanks, feta!

Kudos, tofu!

Kudos, tofu!

Here are two recipes that just need a little something to save them from themselves.  The first is the brown rice salad.  It’s not some great elements: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, dill, a nice dressing, and some nutty brown rice.  Know what it’s missing?  Some kind of protein, preferably of the dairy variety.  It’s got cucumbers and dill, so it’s already vaguely Greek.  In steps feta, and it’s perfect.

Then there’s the green vegetable stir fry.  So so good.  So so so little going on besides vegetables.  Leeks, snow peas, bok choy, celery, ginger.  I served it on brown rice, and that helped.  Again, it needed protein.  Delicious cheese didn’t really seem right (not that it ever seems wrong), but tofu was perfect.  Please take a second look at those cubes.  I have a slightly (read: extremely) anal trick for stir frying tofu.  Cut the tofu into cubes.  True cubes with nearly equal sized sides.  Heat up some vegetable oil.  Place the cubes into the hot oil and turn them every 3-4 minutes.  I turn them by knocking them over on to another side and paying attention to which sides are brown and which are white.  This way, it all gets evenly fried.  You have to be willing to sit with a pair of tongs and gently bob tofu cubes on to their sides by a quarter turn.  If that sounds like madness, just stir them…like the lout that you are!  Either way, the tofu adds the protein and makes this a satisfying meal.

Something has happened with this green veggie stir fry that hasn’t happened with this blog in a very long time.  The recipe is not online.  Sonofa!  So I’m going to do you a solid and give you the recipe, adapted for to add the protein and brown rice that it needs.

Green vegetable stir fry (adapted from Everyday Food issue # 69 January/February 2010 p. 91)

  • 2 medium leeks (white and green parts only), halved lengthwise and rinsed well
  • 3 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 T minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head bok choy (3/4 pound), cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 c snow peas, trimmed
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • coarse salt (omit if using normal broth or substitute a little soy sauce when you serve it)
  • 1/4 low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • cooked brown rice for serving
  • block of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into perfect 1-inch cubes
  1. In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 T of the vegetable oil on medium-high heat.  Place the cubes into the hot oil and turn them a quarter turn onto a new side every 3-4 minutes, browning them evenly.  Pay attention to the first turn, you may find you need more or less cooking time to brown the cubes.
  2. In the meantime, cut leeks into 2-inch pieces; separate layers.  Heat another large skillet (your biggest, widest saucepan is a good choice here) or wok over medium-high heat until hot.  Add another 1 T oil, swirl to coat skillet.  Add half the ginger, half the garlic, and half the leeks.  You’re doing the veggies in two batches because they are going to lose a lot of liquid.  Stir until the leeks begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.  Increase heat to high; add half the bok choy, half the snow peas, and half the celery.  Season with salt or soy sauce, if using low-sodium broth.  Stir until vegetables begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add half the borth; toss until snow peas are bright green, 1 minute. Transfer veggies to a platter or big bowl.
  3. Repeat all of that stir frying with the remaining ingredients.  Remember that’s: ginger, garlic, and leeks, then bok choy, snow peas, and celery.
  4. Serve over brown rice with pan-fried tofu cubes on top.  Season with soy sauce, as desired (as they say in cookbooks)
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Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Beef and scallion “rolls

Sauteed bok choy and broccoli

Unrolled and unconcerned

Unrolled and unconcerned

Slice a pound of beef tenderloin or sirloin into 8 slices.  Place each slice between pieces of plastic wrap, being careful not to let the plastic wrap do the thing that it ALWAYS does where it sticks to itself, pound lightly until 1/8 inch thick.  Place delicate, little slices of bell pepper and green onion on to the slices, roll them tightly and secure with a toothpick.  Brown them on the stove.  Still with me?  I’m not.  I didn’t do any of this.  I took that beef, the bell pepper, and the green onion, chopped it into pieces and stir fried it in a non-stick skillet.  Then I added the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, made an awesome sauce and tossed it all together.  You know what?  It was good enough for me.

The bok choy and broccoli was probably a bigger hassle than the beef just because of all the prep it takes to cut up those vegetables.  I also overcrowded the pot and wound up jamming things down in there haphazardly.  It has a wonderful flavor and goes perfectly with the beef and scallion stir fry.

French cut green beans with dill butter

Know why most of the entree is gone?  Because we got tired of waiting for the beans to be done.

Know why most of the entree is gone? Because we got tired of waiting for the beans to be done.

What’s French for tedious?  Apparently, “fastidieux.”  Haricots vert et fastidieux.  That’s what these are.  Listen to these instructions and you’ll wish you were pounding little pieces of beef to 1/8 inch thick.

  1. Trim both ends of beans with a paring knife or snap off
  2. Cut beans in half into approximately equal-size pieces (really?)
  3. With a paring knife, carefully split each bean in half lengthwise
  4. Ask yourself why you ever decided to start this blog in the first place

The last step might not have been strictly necessary.  Yeah, they were tasty.  Yeah, they have a nicer texture than cooked green beans normally do.  Yeah, the dill and the butter are great additions.  It’s just…well…as a wise woman once said…