Monday, June 28, 2010

Quick Black Beans And My New Favorite Salad

While neither of these recipes are terribly complex, I do want to make a record of them - especially since the salad and variations of it are already a staple in Mr. Bento.

Quick Black Beans
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 heaping tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large or 1 small onion, diced
  • a 15 oz. can of black beans
  • 1-2 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • sour cream
Put the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute till they soften, 3-5 minutes.

Drain some, but not all of the liquid from the black beans. Add beans and leftover liquid to pot. Season with cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, till warmed through and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste, mixing thoroughly to incorporate. Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over rice with sour cream.

Quick Summer Salad with Feta
  • big handful of spring mix
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped onion
  • 2-3 tbsp. crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedge
Combine veggies, top with cheese, season to taste. Squeeze lemon over everything and mix before eating.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tonight's Fried Rice

After a two-day hiatus, I decided to close out the work week with another Mr. Bento and get rid of some leftovers. Recipe's vague and of course proportions and ingredients can be not just tweaked but turned topsy-turvy. Love how the scapes add green bean texture and a subtle, garlicky tang to it.

  • 3 tbsp. neutral oil (peanut this time)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and diced
  • 4 garlic scapes, bulbs and ends removed, chopped
  • 3-4 cups old, cold rice, de-clumpified with a fork or your hands
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce, plus more to taste

Put a skillet or wok on medium-high heat; add the oil and wait till it makes things sizzle.

Add onion; cook, stirring, till beginning to turn translucent, about 1-2 min.

Add carrot and scapes; cook, stirring, till they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.

Add rice. Cook, stirring, till it's heated through. Add soy sauce and stir to mix.

Adjust seasonings, remove from heat and serve (or pack for lunch).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Garlic Scape Soup

Though I was fighting off yet another illness, in between naps I managed to make some of this creamy (even without the optional dairy), flavorful and comforting soup. Remind me to consider unpeeled russets in future soups and stews -- the skins add welcome texture to the dish, and contrast nicely with the scapes. And the smell  of scapes sauteing in olive oil is a wonder - garlicy and yet with a snappy freshness reminiscent of green beans or grass. Original recipe here - halved and tweaked version below.

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 14 garlic scapes, chopped and with bulbs removed
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2 in. dice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (used Swanson this time) + about 1/3 cup water
  • 1 handful baby spinach leaves (about 2 cups)
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • salt to taste (since the broth was heavily salted)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream (optional - skipped in this case)

Place the oil in a pot; turn the heat to medium. Add the scapes and saute till they start to ever so slightly brown, 2-4 minutes.

Add the potatoes and liquid. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer till the potatoes are cooked through but not mushy (20-30 minutes).
Remove from  heat, then add the spinach. Blend if you want to (I prefer chunky soups, so I didn't), then season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lemongrass-Braised Chicken with Garlic Scapes

Originally I had planned to follow the Bittman recipe exactly (but halving it). But, when I realized the lemongrass from our garden was way too small and only imparted the barest hint of flavor to the braising chicken, I added a couple of garlic scapes (first time I've ever cooked with them - I bought almost a pound, so more recipes will follow) and a smidge more of soy sauce. Tasted not-quite-lemongrassy but still good when served with rice, cilantro (also from the garden) and lime juice.

The garlic scapes turned out tasty and almost-crunchy, though one or two bits were too tough. Will have to experiment with the cooking time - will also have to try this recipe again, sans scapes, with mature lemongrass.
  • 1+1/2 tbsp. neutral oil (used corn)
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, halved and smashed (used 5 very thin ones - not quite enough)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin-on
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 garlic scapes, cut into 2-inch lengths
  •  2-3 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges
 Put oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the lemongrass and cook till it grows fragrant, about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper the chicken.

Turn the heat to medium and add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Cover and cook till nearly done, about 20-30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so and basting with a bit of soy sauce.

Add the garlic scapes. Cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dinner Salad

Summer is salad and leftover-using time, all at once - and without the need to turn on the stove. This particular one (of two) consisted of two big handfuls of leaves from our obliging Parris Island lettuce plants, a handful of baby arugula from the market (our sole plant didn't quite have enough to contribute), maybe 1/4 cup of chopped red onion, 1/3 cup chopped tomato (half a large one, seeded), a can of Matiz sardines and some lemon vinaigrette (courtesy of John).