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.
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