Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early July Pad Thai- the result of a well-stocked pantry

This past week's farm share included bok choy, lettuce, kale, beets and beet greens, radishes, cucumber, zucchini, kohlrabi, herbs (I chose parsley), and cabbage. As I was contemplating the possibilities, I received a text from my son saying that the apartment he was moving into the next day did not have a working kitchen- it was in the middle of being remodeled. Good news-- renovated kitchen for most of his lease. Bad news-- no counters, cabinets or sink! He does have a fridge and a stove. So I offered to put my Personal Chef hat on again and make him some meals that he would just have to reheat through the week until the kitchen can be used. A peek into my pantry, freezer and fridge resulted in:

Pad Thai (enough for 3 or 4 meals)
Brined Pork Chops with Crispy Roasted Potatoes and Braised Kale 
Tilapia with Artichokes, Capers, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives and Pasta
Really Humongous Bag of Salad 
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

A lot of the share went into the Pad Thai and, of course, the salad. I used the bok choy, but could have used cabbage instead. The salad included cucumbers, kohlrabi, radishes, and grape tomatoes, and he can add cheese or canned tuna or beans for lunches.
It's been awhile since I did this- it was kinda fun! And I didn't have to go to the grocery store for anything-- it was all from my farm share, pantry, freezer and refrigerator. I love that.
Here's the recipe for the Pad Thai. Mung Bean sprouts are traditional, giving a little extra crunch. I cut the leafy part of the bok choy into strips and didn't actually cook them- just folded them into the hot noodles at the end. And I didn't have fish sauce (aka 'Nam Pla', found in the Asian section of the grocery store), so I used soy and Worcestershire sauce (Worcestershire sauce was originally developed to mimic fish sauce). If you have fish sauce, use 2 tablespoons of that instead. Tamarind Concentrate and Rice Noodles are also pretty easy to find in the Asian section of the grocer. If you can't find Tamarind, you can substitute ketchup; and you can use traditional pasta instead of the rice noodles.

Early July Pad Thai
Tofu or shrimp can be added to this dish—add to the wok before adding all the vegetables. Don’t have a wok? A big, heavy skillet will do the trick (but it’s not quite as much fun).

2 Tablespoons Tamarind Concentrate
3/4 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce OR 1 clove garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces rice noodles
hot water as needed
small head of bok choy
1 kohlrabi bulb
2 medium carrots
2 spring onions or 1/2 bunch scallions
1 medium zucchini
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 eggs
juice of one lime
garnish (optional): chopped peanuts and sliced scallions

1. Combine the tamarind, water, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and chili garlic sauce (or garlic and chili flakes).
2. Pour hot water over the rice noodles and leave to soften for about 5 minutes. As soon as they are soft, rinse in cold water so they don’t get too mushy.
3. Peel the kohlrabi and carrots and cut into matchstick-sized pieces. Cut the green leaves off the bok choy and cut them into ribbon strips. Slice the bok choy stalks thinly. Thinly slice the zucchini. Peel and mince the ginger. Slice the onions or scallions.
4. Heat the oil in a wok and add the spring onions and ginger. Stir fry just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, kohlrabi and bok choy stems.and stir fry until just beginning to wilt. Add the zucchini and cook a few minutes more. Push the veggies to the sides of the wok, leaving a well in the middle. 
5. Lightly beat the eggs and pour into the well. When they begin to set, stir until cooked. Add the sauce and toss all together. 
6. Add the drained noodles and stir to combine. Add the bok choy leaves and stir through (the heat of the noodles will wilt the leaves just enough). Sprinkle on lime juice. Serve with peanuts and scallions, if desired.

And here's a recipe for the kale-- very basic.

Basic Braised Greens
This is a very, very basic recipe-- really just a foundation for whatever you are in the mood for. Add a handful of nuts or a little sweetener (honey, agave) for a nicely balanced dish.

1 medium onion
2 Tablespoons oil (canola is fine, but you can use olive oil if you prefer)
1 fat clove garlic
1 large bunch greens
1/4 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
dash balsamic vinegar

1. Peel and slice the onion. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant.
2. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and mince. Strip the stems off the greens and cut into 1-inch pieces. Wash well, in several changes of water. Leave wet.
3. When the onion is just beginning to change color, add the garlic and the greens. Cook, stirring, for several minutes over low heat until the greens deepen in color. 
4. Add the broth or wine, cover and let cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Remove to a platter and sprinkle on balsamic vinegar.

Have a great week!

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