Friday, September 3, 2010

Green Beans with Ginger-Tahini-Tamari Sauce | Ginger-Greens Soup

Sometimes you just want really clean-tasting, simple food.  I'd call it detoxing, but I don't feel as if my lifestyle has been particularly toxic as of late.  Here are two easy macro-ish recipes that taste fresh and delicious.

I usually go to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian as a last resort.  Unlike other cookbooks, which I browse, soaking up ideas and marking specific recipes to try later, Bittman's book is more of an encyclopedia, as valuable for its basic information about cooking methods, ratios, reliable flavor pairings, etc., as for the recipes themselves.  It's also a great starting point as it gives basic recipes that are endlessly variable.  Under green beans, I found this recipe for walnut-miso sauce.  I substituted tahini for walnuts, and then I substituted tamari for miso.  We still have a nutty thing and a salty thing, but it's the problem of Theseus's ship in Plutarch's Lives!  If the planks in Theseus's ship are replaced, one at a time, when all the planks have been changed, is it still the same ship?  In this case, I think so.

[<---end geek-out

Green Beans in Ginger-Tahini-Tamari Sauce
(inspired by "Green Beans Tossed with Walnut-Miso Sauce" in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

1 lb green beans, trimmed and chopped into bite-sized lengths
3 TB tahini
1 TB tamari
water as needed
chopped ginger to taste
cayenne to taste
sesame seeds, toasted

1. Lightly boil the beans and then ice ("shock") them to stop them from cooking further.
2. Combine tahini and tamari and whisk with water to make a sauce that is thin but not liquidy.  Add ginger and cayenne to taste.
3. Toss beans with sauce and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Serves about 4.


This soup is a simplified version of a recipe from The Atlantic, where it was adapted from 101cookbooks, where it was adapted from Love Soup.  It's ridiculously good for you, with the greens, lemon juice, and miso. 

Earlier incarnations of this soup also called for sweet potatoes.  It always tickles me to be reminded of how well certain aspects of southern USA cooking go with macrobiotic/Japanese cuisine.  An unlikely union, right?  But it's the one which most inspires 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, which--though I don't often cook directly from it these days--has really influenced my overall style and tastes.  The way in which the authors mix sweet and savory flavors, and the idea that you can make really good comfort food from fresh vegetables like greens, sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas, have stuck with me.

Ginger-Greens Soup
(adapted from The Atlantic)


2 TB olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large bunch collards (or kale, chard, etc.), washed, de-stemmed, and chopped in thin strips
3 TB chopped fresh ginger
5 c water
1 c vegetable broth
1 TB brown miso
1-2 c chickpeas
2 to 4 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. Cook the onion slowly over low heat in the two tablespoons of olive oil, stirring now and then, until it is soft and golden, about half an hour.
2. Add greens, ginger, and water to the pot.  Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for about 30 more minutes.
3. Add the vegetable broth, miso, and chickpeas.  Add the lemon juice to taste (start with less and add more if desired).  Taste and correct seasoning with additional salt or lemon juice.  Serves 4-6.

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