Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Three Sisters" Squash and Corn with Tempeh served with Chili-Sprinkled Green Beans

I had a fabulous almost-two-week vacation to the Southwest, with hilights including a number of national parks in Utah that I'd visited back in 1997 (Bryce, Zion, Arches, and Capitol Reef), as well as Colorado's Mesa Verde and my first visit to New Mexico. It was all new to my wife and we both loved the trip. We left on Sunday the 14th; my wife returned this past Tuesday, and I stayed on through Friday. I hope to post more details, including information on our meals, soon.

For now, let me describe a meal that I put together that was inspired by "the three sisters", a phrase referring to beans-corn-squash, the staples in the diets of Ancestral Puebloans (prehistoric "Anasazi" peoples) and others ancient, as well as contemporary, peoples of the area. Corn would provide support for the bean vine, and squash would fill in underneath, preventing weeds.

I cut a quarter or third of a package of tempeh into thin (maybe 1/4" thick) rectangles, perhaps 1/4" x 1/2" and began sauteeing it. About five minutes later, I added a medium-sized zucchini, cut into medium angular chunks. As the zucchini started to brown (and the tempeh was more fully browned), I stripped kernels from two small ears of corn directly into the pan, something I've not done before. I stirred for a minute or two.

One interesting food item that I found in New Mexico was chile sauce, consisting almost exclusively of ground hot chili peppers. I like the spice and heat, and wanted to bring back a jar or two, but settled on a package of six 2-ounce single serve packets of "Flame Roasted Green Chile Singles" from a company called 505 Southwestern. Its ingredients are simply green chile peppers, lime juice, garlic, and salt. I added a packet of the sauce to the zucchini and tempeh, as well as a little (maybe 3 tablespoons) of Lars' Own crispy onions and maybe 1/4 teaspoon of salt, stirred for half a minute, and served.

I quickly cooked green beans over medium heat and very little oil for just a minute or so till they turned deeper green, mixed in a little salt and red chili powder, and served them, as well. I also included a tasty apple that I picked from a bed and breakfast that I stayed at in Santa Fe.

My wife and I loved the dinner! I really am pleased with the main course and am thinking of adding it to my cookbook (to the American chapter? The Mexican one?). The heat was about right for us, though another half packet of the sauce would have been okay. I practically wiped my plate clean!



By the way, late tonight (actually, around 3:30a Monday morning), our vegetarian society's amazing webmaster got our online reservations system up for Thanksgiving! We again expect to host the country's largest vegetarian Thanksgiving with around 500 attendees. People have been asking about when they could reserve since early summer! Join us if you can, dear reader - we get regulars from a number of states, far and wide. Do at least check out our menu posted on the event site, trianglevegsociety.org/thanksgiving07.

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