tsainola

a vegetarian pop-up for New Orleans

Tag: hot peppers

Recipe: Seared Greens with Crispy Fried Onions, Pickled Kohlrabi, and Poached Egg

We’ve served ruby streak baby leaf mustard greens raw before because they are delicious uncooked, but we like this version even more, in which a few other ingredients are brought in to play off of the feathery texture and slight bitterness of the greens. (This was one of more popular dishes at our Pre-Valentine’s Day Brunch a couple of weekends ago.) We deal with each of the ingredients simply, and combine them at the end for a plate that’s varied in texture, flavor, and color while allowing the qualities of each ingredient to shine through. We quick-pickled the kohlrabi with rice vinegar, garlic, hot peppers, and star anise two days ahead of the event. Pickling endows the vegetable with wonderful flavors but also allows it to retain its refreshing crunch. An hour or two before service, we fried the onions until they were crisp and golden — the sweetness of the caramelized onions mingles well with the greens. We poached the eggs and seared ruby streak baby leaf mustard greens to order, and served these four ingredients with a good dash of freshly-ground black pepper and kosher salt. We think of this dish as a salad, because it is as refreshing to the palate as it is to the eyes, as good salads often are.  

Ingredients: kohlrabi, rice vinegar, cayenne peppers, star anise; onions, vegetable oil; ruby streak baby leaf mustard greens; egg, vinegar

1. Peel kohlrabi, which has been widely available at farmer’s markets, and cut into 1/4″ thick slivers. Place kohlrabi in a container along with whole garlic cloves, star anise, cayenne pepper sliced open, and a mixture of 1 part rice vinegar and 1 part water. Make sure that there is enough vinegar and water to cover. Refrigerate.

2. Heat a 1/4″ of oil in a frying pan, and fry a single layer of thinly sliced onions until they turn golden brown. Remove and dry on paper towels, separating the fried onions as they tend to stick to each other.

3. Poach an egg. We like to add a little vinegar to the water to help the egg hold together.

4. Right before serving, heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a pan until just before the oil starts to smoke. Sear washed and dried ruby streak greens for 30-45 seconds on high heat, just long enough to cook the greens and render them a deeply saturated shade of green. Cook a single layer at a time, and do not overcook.

5. On a plate, make a bed of seared greens, sprinkle onions on top, followed by a poached egg. Lay a couple slivers of kohlrabi alongside the greens, and season the plate with thickly ground black pepper and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt.

Recipe: Red Lentils (Sri Lankan style)

We served a variation on these lentils way back in summer of 2011 while we were still at the Dragon’s Den. This basic recipe comes courtesy of our good friend Jamin and his mother, and we are forever indebted to them for showing us how to make this dish that will knock your socks off, especially if you like garlic as much as we do.* Even if you never try any of our other recipes, try this one. There is very little prep work, and cooking time is under thirty minutes.

Ingredients: red lentils, water, turmeric, thinly-sliced onions, minced garlic, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, oil, chopped hot peppers, scallions

1. In a large bowl, combine lentils, a sprinkling of turmeric, onions, garlic (we like to use a lot), and a little more than enough water to cover all the ingredients. Allow these ingredients to soak for at least ten minutes. To start, try using approximately 1/2 onion and 3-4 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp. of turmeric for each cup of dry lentils.

2. In a wide saucepan, heat cooking oil along with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hot peppers, and a few curry leaves.** When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the lentil mixture to the pan. Keep the heat on high.

3. When the lentils have come to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally — you may need to add some vegetable stock or water to make sure the lentils don’t become too dry, as they will absorb a large amount of the liquid. The lentils are done when they are soft and start to meld together.

4. Remove curry leaves, salt generously, garnish with thinly sliced scallions, and serve with rice.

*This dish accomodates other ingredients well. When we served it last year, we used beet greens to provide a little more color and flavor, and have also incorporated mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables in previous iterations.

**Curry leaves should be available at international food markets or anywhere that sells Southeast Asian produce.

Two Recipes: Leek Cabbage Stew and Seared Cabbage with Gogi Berries and Shiitake Mushrooms

Cabbage is one of our favorite vegetables. It has a texture somewhere between raw bell pepper and lettuce, and it is as good stewed and tender as it is raw and crunchy. It is a substantial vegetable, filling and distinct in flavor, but it also combines well with other ingredients. Also, cabbage is cheap. So here are two recipes in honor of cabbage and contemporary economics, one a leek and cabbage stew, and the other a dish we served back in the first week of August.     

Leek and Cabbage Stew

Ingredients: leeks, hot peppers, cabbage, celery, carrots, mushrooms, lemon juice, feta cheese

1. Add finely chopped leeks and hot peppers to hot oil, and cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until the leeks are fragrant and translucent.

2. Add chopped cabbage, chopped carrots, and minced celery, and a little more than enough water and vegetable stock to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for thirty minutes, or until the cabbage and carrots are tender.

3. Add chopped mushrooms and any chopped herbs you might like to use at this point, and cook for an additional three to five minutes. (We prefer the spring of just-cooked mushrooms, which is why we wait to add them.) Once the mushrooms are cooked through, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve the stew with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of feta cheese with each bowl.

Seared Cabbage with Goji Berries and Shiitake Mushrooms

Ingredients: cabbage, hot pepper flakes, goji berries, radishes, shiitake mushrooms, rice wine, kosher salt

1. Reconstitute a handful of goji berries and shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in water at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Approximate proportions: 1 tablespoon of dried berries and two to three mushrooms to one cup of uncooked cabbage.

2. In a wok or large frying pan, bring oil to as high of a temperature as possible before the oil starts to smoke and burn. Add chopped cabbage (we prefer 1 inch square pieces for this recipe) and cook on the highest heat possible for two to three minutes, stirring only occasionally so that the cabbage is allowed to brown in spots.

3. Add sliced shiitake mushrooms, sliced radishes, and goji berries, and continue cooking on high heat for one to two minutes. Add rice wine to deglaze the pan, and continue cooking on high heat for another minute or two, until all of the ingredients are fully cooked and sizzling hot. Serve immediately with rice, with kosher salt sprinkled on top.