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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Healthy Start for dinner

Dill feta scramble

Opa!

Opa!

This is a “healthy start” breakfast recipe, but I don’t generally have time to make much of a breakfast nor do I typically have enough time to make much of a dinner, really.  So this was a breakfast for dinner at our house.  But, really, who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner.

It’s a very tasty and simple recipe.  Pretty much the entire recipe can be found in the name: dill, feta, scramble (eggs).  The recipe has you adding more egg whites than eggs, but D and I decided against that.  Why?  Gluttony and not wanting to try and figure out what to do with an egg yolk besides throw it away or make custard.  I don’t typically make custard on a Thursday…

If you’re looking for a nice, Greek-ish recipe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you happen to have dill in the house, this is a good one to try.  One another note, this would be a good recipe to shop for the same week that you plan to make the salmon with mustard dill sauce in this same issue.

Yellow Squash Four Ways

September 2007, pgs. 20 – 30

B here, starting off our first joint post!!

I do love yellow squash, but I am sad to say I have rarely strayed from one recipe which features yellow squash, zucchini, onion, garlic and FETA!!

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(You may recognized this from my post of Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Herbed Couscous)

The first recipe I tried was the Quick-Marinated Yellow Squash Salad.  It features shallots (yay!!), lemon juice, and thyme.  I never would have thought to eat yellow squash raw (mostly based on texture issues I have), but by very thinly slicing it and mixing it with the acidity of the lemon juice it changed the texture enough to be very pleasing.  It was crisp but not exactly crunchy.  And the squash itself was much more nutty than when cooked.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this one again.

The next squash recipe I went with was Slow-Cooked Yellow Squash, which was very similar to my standard yellow squash sauté.

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Unfortunately, I was a little heavy handed with the salt in this instance.  It still tasted pretty good, but I drank like a camel after.  Luckily, I can safely say that when properly seasoned this recipe is absolutely delicious (especially if you toss in a little feta at the end)!

Hey, it’s G.  I took care of the creamy fusilli with yellow squash and bacon and the stuffed tex mex yellow squash.  Let me begin by informing you that today’s word is “calabcita.”  Here’s a picture of one:

I have small hands, so this isn't very good for scale

I have small hands, so this isn’t very good for scale

The internets tell me that it is a Mexican squash roughly akin to summer squash and zucchini.  Yellow squash was looking nasty at my store, but they had these instead.  They were sitting right next to the summer squash and looked summer squashy, so I decided to use them.  It was a good choice.  Here it is all hollowed out and ready for stuffing:

doing their best zucchini impression

doing their best zucchini impression

The tex-mex stuffed squash recipe is good, but not at all unique.  I count on the “have you tried?” or “in season” recipes to take the ingredient to new and interesting places.  Anyone who hasn’t had stuffed zucchini a million times, raise their hand.  I don’t see many hands.  This doesn’t break any new ground.  It’s onions, peppers, chopped up squash innards, corn, etc. all stuffed in with a tomato sauce and baked.  Yawn.  I would have liked to see maybe a Greek version with oregano and feta.  That would be something new.  I guess mine is different because of the funny squash.  It’s not different enough for me.

The note in the magazine says that all of the beef and corn and cheese adds “kid appeal.”  I’m lucky enough to a have a kid who is too young to make much of a protest, not that I tried feeding him this.  I think maybe I would, if I broke it up a little.  They say corn kernels are a choking hazard, though…  Goodness knows this kid needs to get used to eating stuff make out of Everyday Food!

at least it's colorful

at least it’s colorful

Before I go on, I’ll tell you something that might make you think of this dish differently.  I guess I have two words for today.  The other is “zuccanoe.”  You pronounce it like the first part of zucchini (the “zucc”) with the word “canoe.”  I was eating the leftovers of this dish in the break room at work when my co-worker came in, looked at my food, and said “Oh!  Zuccanoes!”  It almost sounded like he said “zut alors!”  I asked him what he was so excited about, and he told me that he has an old book that calls stuffed zucchini, zuccanoes.  I’m making up the spelling, by the way.  I thought it was so cute.  I hope it catches on.

Creamy fusilli with yellow squash and bacon

If you’re going to have pasta carbonara, but it makes you feel bad about yourself, I recommend this recipe.  Look, it has a vegetable!  Cream and bacon and cheese justified.  You’re welcome.

This recipe suffers from a problem I find with a lot of recipes, the veggies are too big for the pan.  I cut up my four yellow squash and that was enough to fill the pan:

perhaps they weren't "medium" sized after all

perhaps they weren’t “medium” sized after all

I wound up taking out about a cup and a half of cooked squash.  Otherwise, the recipe is very easy and straight-forward.  I once again failed to read closely and cooked the bacon slices whole, then chopped them after they were cooked.  I know better.  It takes longer that way, and you wind up with unpleasant, little bacon shards in your food.  Also, the recipe says you can substitute parmesan for asiago.  Don’t mind if I do!

There's a veggie in there somewhere...

There’s a veggie in there somewhere…

So if you need to use up some yellow squash (by the way, I can’t see why zucchini or our new friend calabcita wouldn’t be good in this) and/or you need an excuse to eat cream and bacon, this is a good recipe.

G over and out!