You’d think that by late April there would be fresh, local produce readily available, but the truth is, it’s still sort of slim pickings around here. Sure, asparagus was spotted at the farmer’s market last weekend, but it went fast (I missed it, but Serg at Crazy Farm said he’d hold me a few pounds this week). There are baby greens, but not every farmer’s booth has them right now. So food wise, we’re sort of in between seasons and to be honest, I’m slightly culinaryily (probably not a word, but I don’t care) uninspired right now. This has been leading me to dig a little deeper into my cookbook collection, looking for new recipes to inspire me with what I have on hand, which is pretty much what I’ve had on hand for months now.
This recipe is from a cookbook I don’t often grab and I’m not exactly sure why. This particular recipe happened to fit the bill perfectly one night towards the end of Brussels Sprouts season. I was looking for something new to do with the vegetable we’d been eating since last fall, something that was easy and that could be made with what I had on hand, which truthfully was not much. I wanted to share it with you all then, as I realized it would probably be better appreciated at the start of Brussels Sprouts season and not at the end. Thankfully, this is one of those easy peasy recipes that is highly adaptable – definitely my favorite sort of recipe, because I tend to think all recipes should really just be a direction in which to head, nothing to follow to the letter.
I have since tried it with cabbage and broccoli and will probably try it with kale next, as that seems to be Edie’s preferred green vegetable of sort these days. Between you and me, I thought I’d worn out kale’s welcome around here last year – it was the only thing that did well in my garden last summer (and I do mean, the ONLY thing), so that by the end of the season, the answer of ‘kale, that’s what’s for dinner’ was met with groans. If you’re going to feed your family kale on a daily basis, it’s best to mix it up, that’s for sure. Here we had kale on Sunday brunch in a fritatta (with caramelized onions, swiss cheese and leftover grilled Free Union Grass Farm brats), Monday’s kale was mixed into the black eye peas I folded into our quesadilla dinner, tonight it will be tossed with pasta, tuna, black olives and Parmesan cheese for a quick dish and it might end up on pizza with goat cheese by the end of the week (that bag of baby kale goes a LOOOOONG way.)
Wait, where was I? I was babbling about Garlicky Brussels Sprouts, which I’ve adapted to Garlickly Member of the Cabbage Family (and tofu). It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but it’s more descriptive than Garlicky _____________(fill in the blank) now doesn’t it? I’m sharing the adaptations I’ve made it and hopefully, as you make it, you’ll do your own tweaking, because recipes like this just lend themselves to that.
Garlicky Brussels Sprouts (Or Broccoli. or Cabbage. or Cauliflower.)
(adapted from Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott)
1 pound Brussels Sprouts (or other vegetable)
(Healthy chunk of tofu (or chicken or pork), cubed (or sliced. or shredded.))
2 tablespoons vegetarian stir fry sauce (or oyster sauce. or fish sauce)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons oil (I like half sesame, half vegetable or olive or peanut)
2 tablespoons (or more) minced garlic
(Crushed red pepper)
Fill a medium saucepan with water, heavily salted and bring to boil. Drop vegetables in, cooking until tender and bright green, about 3-5 minutes.
Note: I leave my brussels sprouts whole for this, but chop my broccoli and cabbage prior to this step.
Drain and set vegetables aside. (I will let the brussels sprouts cool a bit, then I either half them or slice them thinly (our preferred version)).
Note: I pull my vegetables out with a slotted spoon, then drop my cubed tofu into the pot to boil for 10 minutes to firm it up.
In small bowl, combine the stir fry (or oyster or fish) sauce, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper and water. Stir well and set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or deep skillet, swirling to coat the pan. Add the garlic, tossing often, for about 30 seconds. Add the prepared vegetable (and your protein) and cook, tossing often, for about 2 minutes. (If adding crushed red pepper, add it here.) Quickly stir the sauce mixture to combine and add to the pan. Cooking, tossing to coat well with the sauce, until heated through and everything is crispy, about 1 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature over the grain of your choice.