Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Farmer's Market Malabar Spinach with Tempeh, Okra with Mixed Basil No-Fat "Pesto" (Almost No Added Fat)

On the way home, my daughter and I stopped by the Durham Farmer's Market this evening and picked up a variety of good looking fresh produce, almost all of which I used in tonight's dinner. The most unique, for me, item that I found was something called Malabar spinach.

I'd not heard of this spinach before; the farmer had dark green heart-like leaves clipped from a vine that looked a bit like money plant leaves. They are a little spongy and reminded me, in texture, a bit of aloe vera with a firm leaf but almost like gel inside. Apparently, this is from India, though my wife wasn't familiar with it. We all thought it tasted okay raw.

Other interesting items that I picked up included a large bag of mixed basil, Sungold cherry tomatoes, the largest okras I've ever seen, and fine green onions. I used up almost all of this with dinner tonight.

I love Sungold tomatoes - these little gems are like candy! I finished most of these while I was preparing dinner!

I saved one spinach leaf for each plate and presented it raw with a handful of Sungolds. I made a no added fat "pesto" like I did a few days ago by blending the basil with lime juice, a few cloves of garlic, a stalk of green onion, a pinch or two of salt, and a tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast. I sauteed in my titanium-steel Saladmaster pan the okra cut lengthwise into thirds (because they were so thick); when they were starting to brown a bit, I added 2" or so long pieces of green onion, cooked another minute or so, then added two tablespoons of my "pesto".

I cooked down another minute or two then, to add some saltiness and further deglaze and clean the pan, put in a few teaspoons of coconut aminos, stirred while bearing down on the pan, then served. For my wife and my portions, I added a generous amount of hot sauce to the plates; my preschooler would not have eaten the dish if it were spiced so.

While I prefer to cook with no added fat for health, I occasionally do use a little oil, such as to brown tempeh or seitan. I put a tablespoon or so of oil in a cast iron pan and sauteed about half of a package of tempeh cut into small rectangles maybe 1" x 1/2". As the tempeh became medium brown, I added about four or five of the green onion stalks, cut into 1/2" cubes, as well as the large handful of the Malabar spinach that I had purchased (reserving three leaves to eat raw, as above), which I had cut into thirds. I cooked the spinach down a bit, then served with a little oregano.

Dinner was good. This batch of "pesto" wasn't as tasty as the one that I had made a few days ago, but still added nice flavor surprises. The Malabar spinach was reasonably good, but probably not something I'll specifically seek.


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