Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At Market...Lemongrass & Ginger

One of my favorite things about our local farmers' market is that there is a vendor that carries all kinds of interesting greens, herbs and vegetables used in Asian cooking. They usually are gone from Christmas through the month of January. But this year, they didn't make their return until last Sunday. Their long absence was slightly traumatizing, to say the least, so when I saw them again, I did a little happy dance and filled my bag to the brim with their fragrant offerings, including lemongrass and ginger root. Did you know that ginger root is usually imported from East Asia? I find it thrilling that I can find it at our little market's the little things, people!

Armed with a glass of wine and my Vegetarian Planet cookbook, I decided to play around a bit with with a lemongrass quinoa pilaf recipe, because I just don't know how to leave well enough alone. And while I can't testify as to the flavor of the original, this version was outstanding! Shot through with heat from the minced ginger, and a brightness from the lemongrass, cilantro and mint, it was just the dish we needed to get our healthful eating back on track. We enjoyed it warm as a main dish for dinner, but it was equally delicious cold when we devoured the leftovers for lunch. If you omit the cubes of tofu, it would make a fine side dish to accompany grilled fish or chicken as well.

Lemongrass Quinoa Pilaf

This quick meal was not only nutritious, but also flavorful and immensely satisfying. Omit the tofu and it becomes a wonderful side dish.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time
Yield: serves 4


1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine sieve to remove any bitterness
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
dash of cloves
dash of ground ginger
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, bulbous end only with outer leaves peeled, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 12 ounce package of firm tofu, marinated for 1 hour in soy sauce (or Asian marinade)
1 medium head of broccoli, florets separated and stem sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 bunch of spring onions, washed well and thinly sliced
handful of cilantro, chopped
handful of mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Bring the 2 cups of stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rinsed quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pepper, cloves and dried ginger and stir. Add the ginger, garlic and lemongrass and cook for one minute, until it becomes fragrant. Add the tofu and stir-fry for about three minutes or until it begins to brown slightly. Add the broccoli and 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot. Let the broccoli steam for 3 minutes, then remove cover.

Add cooked quinoa to the broccoli and tofu in the skillet and stir to combine thoroughly. Toss with chopped cilantro, mint and spring onions, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately or at room temperature.

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