Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Up past my bedtime. . .

I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo and distracting myself from this project. Silly me. So I glued my butt to the chair and cranked through a couple more veggie recipes.

Stir-Fried Anything!

Once you have mastered the previous recipe, sautéing multiple kinds of vegetables in the same pan together (#), you can add meat or tofu, and any sort of Asian sauce to the recipe to make a complete stir-fried entrée.

Meat, raw and boneless, cut into bite-sized pieces. Or use cooked meat. Or use baked tofu (#).
Vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces
Any sort of jarred stir-fry sauce
Any flavorless oil, such as canola.

First, if raw meat is being used, sauté the meat (recipe #) in a little oil until it is fully cooked. Remove the meat from the pan, add a little more oil, and sauté the vegetables (#). When the vegetables are almost, but not quite cooked, add the meat back to the pan, (or add the cold cooked meat or the tofu) and add enough sauce to coat everything. Continue to cook until the vegetables are done. Serve with boiled grain (#).

Sautéed and Steamed leafy greens

Leafy greens tend to be more delicate than other vegetables. With the exception of cabbage, which can hold its own against even some of the most tough root vegetables, leafy greens should generally not be tossed in a sauté pan with other types of vegetables.

Leafy greens range from being so delicate that they are suitable in salads, to cabbage, which needs a fair bit of cooking. Here is a list of some common greens, from tender to tough:

“baby” greens of any sort
Lettuce of any sort
Beet greens

For what to do with raw greens, see Leafy Green Salads, #, or Coleslaw #.

Although the Southern treatment of collard greens might give you the impression that greens need to be cooked until they are mush, leafy greens are actually better for you if cooked with a light hand, cooked only until the leaf has wilted and the color intensified. With the more tender greens (including lettuce, which can, in fact, be cooked) you barely have to introduce the greens to a hot pan in order to cook them.

Greens should be stiff (not limp) and green, with no yellow or brown on the leaves. Some greens, such as kale, have a tough rib in the middle of each leaf that you may want to exclude from your dish. If you don’t use the ribs, you can chop them finely and include them in balls, patties, and loaves (recipe #).

Washing greens can be a hassle. I suggest that you first tear or chop the leaves before putting them in a salad spinner or large bowl. Then fill the bowl with cold tap water. Stir the leaves with your hand - and then using your hand, push the leaves to one side while you pour the water down the sink. (Or if using a salad spinner, lift the basket from the water.)

As you pour out the water, look for grit at the bottom of the bowl. If grit is present, rinse the greens again. Repeat until no more grit comes out of the greens.

Greens can be chopped up however you please, but a particularly nice way to chop them is to roll up a bundle of leaves and then slice the bundle, creating long ribbons of leaf.

Greens that are destined to be cooked can be washed, chopped, and then frozen. Cook frozen greens just as you would fresh greens.

To sauté greens, you need a pan or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pot on medium heat. Wash the greens, but don’t worry about drying them off. Add them to the pot with water still dripping from the leaves. Begin stirring the greens at once. (Tongs are particularly useful here, but a large spoon will do the trick if your pot isn’t overly full.)

Spinach will wilt at once under this treatment. Be prepared to get the spinach out of the pot immediately when it looks done. Otherwise, you will have mushy, bitter spinach.

Vegetables in the cabbage family (from beet greens to cabbage) will take a bit longer. After a few stirs in the oil, if they start to look dry or stick to the pot, try adding a few tablespoons of water to the pot and putting the lid on, to steam them. Taste them every two or three minutes to judge doneness. And just as with spinach, get them out of the pot when they are cooked.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a side dish, or over toast for breakfast!

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