Category Archives: lemongrass

Lemongrass! What to do with it? For one, a Swiss Chard Sauté

picture of ingredients
The ingredients

This past week, I wanted to highlight lemongrass, a tropical grass that is also grown here in Massachusetts by our Flats Mentor Farm farmers.

The easiest way to enjoy lemongrass is to make a tea of the bulb, stalk, and/or leaves, with the latter being the choice for our Saturday morning beverage. It could not be easier: cut the dark green tops off the stalks, put them in a pot of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer or just turn off the heat (as I did) and let it steep! Delicious hot or warm, it also makes a refreshing iced tea.

pic of lemongrass tea
Lemongrass Tea!

Our main dish used lemongrass to add its essence to sautéed Swiss chard, to which I also added sweet yellow peppers. I put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a big frying pan, added 2 tablespoons of sliced, then crushed, then finely minced lemongrass bulb, which is the bottom few inches minus the end of the bulb, which you chop off.

This was done at a low temperature – just a bit of movement in the oil, for about 20 minutes. I then added sliced sweet yellow pepper, using a whole one along with leaves from a bunch (10-12 stalks) of Swiss chard. I chopped both the chard and peppers small so they would fit into the demo cups, but you can size as desired.

Once the lemongrass had infused in the olive oil, I turned the heat up to medium high and added the pepper slices and cooked for a few minutes, then added the chard and let it cook down and long enough get soft and deep in flavor, about 10 minutes or more, turning the heat down if it looked like things might get brown.

A touch of salt finished it off, although you could certainly add seasonings to taste, as well as tofu, chicken, or another protein for a complete meal. Note: the infused oil is not lemony as is the tea, but it adds a “something extra” to the flavor base. According to many recipes sites, that “something” is what you might feel is missing if you make Thai food without using lemongrass.

The bulb and stem, and, even the leaves can be used to season, soups, stews, and curries. Just note that the stalk and leaves must be removed after cooking, as well as the bulb if not minced. Too tough to chew! If not mincing the bulb, slice and crush before using.

You can use 1 Tbsp minced lemongrass bulb for 1 tsp lemon zest, and, I discovered that lemongrass vodka is a thing, one that I intend to try. Click HERE for one way of making it.

Can’t use what you buy all at once? No fear! It freezes well. Just cut off the leaves (make tea!) and wrap the bottom 6-8 inches for later use.

To end, here is a link to a handy chart showing how to prep lemongrass:
How to Prepare Lemongrass

Winter Recipes – March 19, 2017: Carrot-Beet Slaw, Sautéed Celeriac with Lemongrass

This month, I decided to follow the December 2016 cooking demo lead and make a root veggie based slaw, this time using carrots and beets with a touch of apple. The cooking demo again featured celeriac, but this time in a sauté versus a slaw. (See the post about the December 2016 Cooking Demo to see how to use celeriac in a slaw; it does make for a mighty tasty crunch.)

Here is the slaw recipe: Scrub but don’t bother peeling two medium sized beets and four smallish to medium carrots, grate with the large hole side of a box grater, and mix the results in a bowl. Next, cut in quarters and core a smallish apple and grate, holding the skin side on the outside,  discarding the skin once all the inner fruit is ready for the slaw. Mix together, and then stir in maybe a tablespoon of rice or other mild vinegar. That’s it! You can, of course, dress it up with a creamy dressing, perhaps some walnuts,  maybe instead or also add a touch of minced onion, or some salt and pepper…hey – poppy seeds would work, I bet. But be sure to try it “naked,” even without the apple, first. You may be surprised at how the veggies speak for themselves.

For some great – grate? :=) – ideas for dressing up this slaw, click HERE. And, be sure to bookmark this wonderful cooking blog by  Clotilde Dusoulier, the cook and writer behind Chocolate & Zucchini.

Given that Farmer Dave’s was back with us this month, I did want to also feature one of my favorite “ugly” veggies that Farmer Dave is wise enough to always grow. Again, see the post about the December 2016 Cooking Demo for info about this so very versatile vegetable.

While a lovely base for or addition to a slaw, celeriac also has just the right texture when cooked.  And, while maybe not news to everyone, I discovered that, contrary to a number of recipes I reviewed online, you do NOT need to parboil celeriac before sautéing slices or small chunks.

Bottom line, slices or small chunks of celeriac sautéed until just soft in olive oil and then seasoned with a nice turn off freshly ground pepper and a touch of salt is really tasty. BUT, sauté it in olive oil that was first infused with fresh – or fresh from the freezer – lemongrass, then you have quite the thing.

Last fall, I froze some stalks of lemongrass that I had purchased from our Flats Mentor Farm farmers by just folding them in half, wrapping them in foil, and storing them in the freezer with the intent of using them in a cooking demo this winter.

Along with using the top half of the stalks for tea by simply cutting them up and simmering them in water, I decided to augment the celeriac sauté as well.

To flavor the oil, I cut the bulb end of the stalk into pieces and sliced into them lengthwise and then just let them simmer at a low temperature in the olive oil for about 15-20 minutes. I then removed the lemongrass, and then sautéed the celeriac in the infused oil. It did indeed give an extra touch of flavor, but I think I will try it with more lemongrass the next time, just for fun.

Recipe from October 1, 2016: Luffa Squash and Fennel Sauté

demo-ingredientsRain or shine, and it was definitely raining, the cooking demo went on last Saterday featuring luffa squash from Flats Mentor Farm, fennel bulb from Farmer Dave’s, and a lovely onion from Kelly’s Farm. These three veggies, cooked in a helth few tablespoons of olive oil and enhanced with just a pinch or two of salt and a teaspoon of maple syrup from Akermann’s Maple Farm enticed at least a few folks to grab some luffa and fennel for their own.

As with any sautéed dish, the amount of each ingredient is flexible, and, truth be told, the amounts used on Saturday did not get written down.  But, here are some “good enough” guesses:

fennel-squashLuffa Squash and Fennel Sauté

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely sliced/chopped fennel bulb
  • 2-3 cups chopped luffa squash
  • a pinch or two salt
  • a teaspoon maple syrup

demo-doneHeat the olive oil and cook the onion on medium until starting to get soft. Stir in the fennel, followed by the luffa squash, and continue cooking until soft and even a bit caramelized, if desired. Sprinkle with salt and maple syrup, give a few stirs, let cook for another minute, then serve.