Thursday, April 7, 2011

Veggie Might: Love Your Vegetables—Broccoli Almond Stir-fry

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Gentle readers, I’m still crying into my keyboard over the outpouring of generosity you displayed yesterday. Aline’s kitchen is going to be so rad. My heart is bursting, and you will be hugged if we ever meet face-to-face.

Now let me pull myself together so we can talk broc. A few posts ago, I challenged myself to investigate new ways to cook veggies and learn a little about how to prepare them to maximum awesomosity. To this end, I checked out two books from the library: Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Love and Leanne Kitchen’s The Produce Bible.

I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Kafka speak about James Beard a couple years ago, and I remembered her witty, charming style, sharing anecdotes about the innovator of American cooking. Vegetable Love has that same easy charm, while maintaining its old-school sensibility, in the manner of Beard and Julia Child, who never met a vegetable that didn’t benefit from a heavy dose of butter, cream, or pork fat. It’s only a cookbook for vegetarians or vegans if you’re okay doing recipe renovation.

But! I love her devotion to classic methods and technique and the book’s Cook’s Guide section; it’s got awesomosity! Each vegetable is listed alphabetically with its varieties, along with preparation, cooking, and storing methods. She even gives a few tips for creating your own recipes. Now I know everything about vegetables.

The Produce Bible is a beautifully photographed modern tribute to fruits and vegetables, and features two recipes per selection, along with a brief write up about basic uses, prep, and cooking methods. Plus, vegetarian cookbook hero Deborah Madison wrote the intro, so it’s riding on some veg cred.

Armed with a little BKafka knowledge (use a vegetable peeler on broccoli stems! the average broccoli head weighs 1 1/2 pounds!), a tasty looking recipe from LeanneK (Broccoli and Almond Stir-fry!), and a glorious, green head of broccoli, I made a side dish to die for supper twice this week. Bonus: No extra ingredients were purchase in the making of this dish.

Fast, easy, and super tasty, CB has already requested further repeat performances. He’ll get no arguments here. Broccoli and Almond Stir-fry has maximum awesomosity.


If you fancied this recipe, your sensibilities may be delighted by:

Broccoli and Almond Stir-fry
Serves 3
From The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen, slightly modified

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 head broccoli, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into florets
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon tahini or 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Note: The rapid pace once cooking starts makes it essential to have all your ingredients prepared before you begin.

1) Cut the broccoli into florets on the small side for faster cooking. Save the stems for another dish or soup stock. Give the coriander a mash in a mortar with a pestle, or if you’re me, in a shallow bowl with the bottom of a glass; a coarse crush is what we’re looking for here. If you have whole almonds on hand, chop about 12 of them for slivered almonds. Crush and mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. Remember, freezing the ginger in advance makes it a bazillion times easier to grate.

2) Combine, in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and tahini. (If you’re using sesame seeds, sprinkle them on as a garnish.) Wisk to combine and set aside.

3) In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or wok, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the coriander and almonds, and stir until the almonds are golden-brown, about 1 minute.

4) Toss in garlic, ginger, and broccoli, with a splash of water if necessary. Cook for two minutes until broccoli is bright green and tender. Remove from heat. Pour dressing over broccoli and toss to combine.

5) Serve immediately with rice pilaf and a revived love of flowering cabbage.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
138 calories, 7.6g fat, 7g fiber, 6.7g protein, $.66

1 head broccoli: 164 calories, 0g fat, 20g fiber, 16g protein, $1.50
1 teaspoon coriander seeds: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 teaspoon olive oil: 40 calories, 4.6g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.03
2 tablespoons slivered almonds: 81 calories, 7g fat, 1.5g fiber, 3g protein, $0.08
2 cloves garlic: 4 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.01
1 teaspoon ginger: 2 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.02
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar: 6 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.20
1 tablespoon soy sauce: 11 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.04
2 teaspoons sesame oil: 79.2 calories, 9.24g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.06
1 teaspoon tahini: 27 calories, 2g fat, 0.5g fiber, 1g protein, $0.03
TOTALS: 414 calories, 22.8g fat, 22g fiber, 20g protein, $1.99
PER SERVING (TOTALS/3): 138 calories, 7.6g fat, 7g fiber, 6.7g protein, $.66

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