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stir fry

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

My friend runs a farm just on the edge of the city, and its first harvestable produce is beginning to take flight — into my hands. And my kitchen. And my bowl. And on my blog. Spring is here — as if I hadn’t told you a million times already — and this makes me happy. My kitchen too.

Now please excuse me while I take this next moment to praise the earth for baby bok choy.

Praise earth. Baby bok choy. Coming to a farmer’s market near you soon (or so I hope).

Baby Bok Choy

Its leafy greens are my first taste of the ground this year. (And I mean that quite literally – make sure to wash your bok choy extra well if you don’t want to swallow some dirt.) As tender as ever, early young greens are the best.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

This past week, I took a trip out to the farm after work to help toil some soil and sow a few seeds/starters into the ground. Radicchio was farm-boy’s starter of choice for the night, so into the ground we put plant after plant after radicchio plant.

Each one was so small sometimes I began feeling like a nervous mom, wondering how they’d all survive a night without me. I’ve planted my fare share of infants though, so fortunately I walked away with confidence knowing they’d take root. And that has nothing to do with my gardening skills – plants are tough little guys! I’m excited to watch the baby radicchio leaves, with their ever so faint pink streaks, grow into the mighty magenta that makes spring salads shine.

Toasted sesame seeds

It always feels good to get my hands and jeans dirty, even if for just a couple of hours. City living or not, I’ll always be a farm girl at heart.

Perhaps with that comes an endless excitement for new harvests and crisp produce. I took this bok choy home with me from the farm and whipped it up the very same night. Simple dishes like these can be ever so satisfying when your produce is fresh. As any gardner, farmer, or farmer’s market enthusiast knows, spring is the golden season of all good things to come. The freshness just keeps trickling in until you have a steady stream of items to swap in and out of your diet. Just wait. Once strawberries arrive, I’ll be taking more than a small moment at the front of my blog to praise the earth for its fruit. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Be on the lookout for baby greens. If you can’t find bok choy, opt for something else that’s on the slightly bitter side, which will pair nicely with the Hoisin sauce in this recipe. This will serve 4 as a light meal, but to pump it up, feel free to crack an egg on top.

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Coconut Curry Cabbage Stir-Fry with Pasta

Coconut Curry Cabbage Stir-Fry with Pasta

Sometimes I get the weirdest cravings. Like for iced coffee in the middle of a February snowstorm. Or for bubble baths (likely a result of said iced coffee). Or for cabbage, a vegetable I think of little outside of those lone, random lustings.

Generally, cabbage comes into my mind mainly in the summer, when its heads are running rampant in the garden. It comes to mind when I’m dining outside, veg. or fish tacos in hand, and a few shreds of crunch lace the top. I can get down with some cole slaw, too, but I can’t say I’m dreaming of it all year. It’s definitely not something I seek out. (This recipe excluded.)

Cabbage, however, seized my mind this past cold, wintry week. (Along with thoughts of California. And beaches. And everything else warm-related, to the extent I started writing about it in my music journalism…)

Cabbage

As per usual, while working at a coffee shop shifted to daydreaming of dinner at a coffee shop, as per not usual, my mind drifted to cabbage. And so was born this recipe.

Cowabunga.

Coconut Curry Cabbage Stir-Fry with Pasta

Coconut curry’s something I daydream of on the regular, so no surprises here. It gives this pasta a vegan sauciness that feels creamy but not overly rich. It pairs perfectly with the crunch from the cabbage, and the peanuts thrown on top. Feel free to swirl in a little peanut butter if you do want to take it to the richer side, or if you simply don’t have any peanuts on hand. Just don’t skip out on the nutty element all together.

A little cabbage, yes cabbage, to brighten up a winter day. Who would’ve dreamed? Me.

Green cabbage

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Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli

Whenever I go out for Chinese food, the broccoli on the menu is sure to have my name on it. Very occasionally I’ll switch it up and go for something different, like vegetable moo-shu or some kind of Chinese-adorned green beans, but in general it’s stir-fried broccoli that’s going on my plate. Broccoli in white sauce, broccoli in brown sauce, tofu and broccoli, or occasionally shrimp and broccoli, like I made for last night’s dinner…Whatever it is, my order will probably include that tree-looking veggie known as broccoli. In fact, Chinese-seasoned is probably my favorite way to eat the nutrient-rich, royal green crowns.

What could be even tastier than take-out Chinese broccoli? A homemade version, of course! Made at home, this stir-fried dish keeps all the flavor with less of the gluck. Plus, with your eye on the stove, you can avoid having your shrimp being cooked to a chewy, rubbery death. Another perk? Say your goodbyes to that vain, plain Jane white rice because by cooking at home, you can guarantee that it’s brown rice that will be served under your stuperstar broccoli. Win.

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Sweet and Sour Tempeh

This is what I like to call my Semi-Homemade version of Sweet and Sour “Chicken.”  Tempeh, made from naturally cultured and fermented soybeans, serves as a relatively unprocessed meat substitute and tasty plant-based protein.  It provides a nice, dense texture to this dish, pairing well with the softness of the pineapple and crunch of the cashews.  Using a pre-bottled sweet and sour sauce, this dish can be cooked up in no time.  Just make sure to choose a sauce without a long list of added, processed ingredients. You won’t find me making a Sandra Lee-style sacrifice on this regard.

Serve alongside brown rice, or any other of your favorite whole grains.

Sweet and Sour Tempeh
(Serves 4)
-1 8-oz pkg. tempeh, cubed
-2 medium bell peppers, cut into 1-inch slices
-1 Tbs. minced ginger
-1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, drained
-1/3 cup unsalted roasted cashews, chopped
-2-3 tsp. soy sauce (depending on sodium content of sweet and sour sauce)
-1/3 cup sweet and sour sauce (any brand of your choice)
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-Cilantro, optional

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute sliced peppers for 2-3 minutes.  Add ginger and saute another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in tempeh.  Add soy sauce, and saute another 3 minutes, until tempeh begins to brown.  Add pineapple and cashews, saute for an additional minute.  Stir in sweet and sour sauce, cooking until heated throughly, about 1 minute.  Serve, topping with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Stir-Fried Garlic Ginger Green Beans

Summer’s last batch of green beans are still rolling in.  What better way to cook those skinny green beans up than to stir fry them with some zing.  With a touch of spice and a little fresh crunch, this recipe is sure to keep you on your tingly toes and have your lips smacking for more.  Pair alongside any of your favorite Asian-inspired dishes.

Stir-Fried Garlic Ginger Green Beans

(serves 3-4)

-1 1b of green beans, ends trimmed

-4 medium garlic cloves, minced

-1 inch ginger, minced

-1 scant Tbsp. soy sauce

-1 wedge of lime

-1/4 tsp. Sriracha, plus more for drizzling

-1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Cook green beans in boiling water for one minute.  Drain and run under cold water.  With a clean dish towel, dry green beans thoroughly.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add garlic and ginger, and saute for 45 seconds.  Add green beans.  Stir in soy sauce and Sriracha.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, until beans just start to become tender.  Beans should retain bright green color and a bit of crispness.  Squeeze lime over top.  Serve, drizzling extra Sriracha on top, if desired.