Thursday, March 25, 2010

Asian Flavored Broccoli and Leafy Greens

Normally if I made a dish like this I would stir fry the vegetables in a little oil and then add in the flavorings towards the end, and probably over-cook the vegetables in the process.  This particular recipe I came across was interesting.  You steam the vegetables first for a few minutes, then toss them together with your sauce ingredients while they are still hot.  It was just as quick as a stir fry but healthier!   

The website that posted this recipe encourages steaming vegetables to preserve as many of their nutrients as possible - and since the main reason for eating vegetables in the first place is for their health benefits, this is something I really should pay more attention to.      

Steamed veggies by themselves sound, well, just plain boring, but when you toss them with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar...oh man, you have to try it!  We piled our veggies over some wild rice and red kidney beans. 

The actual recipe calls for broccoli, carrots, and tofu, but I wanted to use up our CSA veggies so I used a mix of broccoli, cabbage rabe, spinach, kale, and chard.  I also probably used way more veggies than it called for, but the sauce seemed to still flavor it nicely, and we had enough for lunch the next day.

Asian-Flavored Broccoli with Tofu
Serves 2-4

1 pound broccoli, florets cut into quarters
2 medium carrots, sliced thin
8 ounces tofu, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated ginger (I used the stuff in the jar, works great for me!)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Red pepper flakes to taste (we were out, but I think it was fine without them)
Fill the bottom of a steamer with a couple inches of water (or, if you don't have a steamer like me, use a pot fitted with a steamer basket.  Heat over medium-high.

While the water is heating, prep your veggies, either the ones they suggest or a mixture of your own.  Large leafy greens should be sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1-inch strips crosswise.  Broccoli florets should be quartered, and the stems sliced into 1/4-inch pieces.  Thinly slice carrots and bell peppers.  Tofu should be cut into 1/2 to 1-inch cubes.

Combine the rest of the ingredients (oil through red pepper flakes) in a small bowl and set aside*.  

The steamer is ready when the water has reached a rolling bowl.  Turn the heat down a bit and start adding the veggies.  Hard vegetables like carrots go in first, along with tofu, if using.  Steam for two minutes.

Add the broccoli to the carrots and tofu.  Steam for 5 minutes.

Leafy greens take about three minutes, so add them a couple minutes after the broccoli, if using.  Spinach only takes ONE minute, so wait until the very end to add that (side note: I had so many veggies and a only small steamer basket so I made two batches, broccoli first, then the greens second.  I put the broccoli in a covered bowl to keep it hot while the greens steamed).

Toss the veggies with the sauce mixture.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds for a nice touch. 

*To mellow the flavor of the garlic, peel and press the cloves, then add them to the steamer in the last two minutes of cooking.  Chop them before tossing together with the sauce ingredients.  If you like spicy garlic flavor, just chop the cloves and add them straight to the sauce mixture without steaming first.          

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