GF Vegetarian Lunch Tiffin Bento Menu for the DH: Goat Cheese Quesadillas and Lemongrass Corn Recipe

August 13th, 2008 yum Posted in Bento, Corn, Corn Tortillas, Goat Cheese, South American, Thai, Vegetarian 5 Comments »


Just a few nights ago we had a lovely green vegetable curry, rice, and a lemongrass corn stir fry in the spirit of one of my favorite cuisines- Thai. For DH’s taste sensibilities (and sensitive stomach) I tamed the usually spicy green curry down to the spice level of, oh, let’s say a mild yellow curry. Oh, the things we do for love. But I also put all my favorite vegetables- eggplant AND red pepper- into the curry, and poor DH doesn’t care for them at all. To make it up to him I made a lovely lemongrass corn stir fry that I just knew he’d love- especially stripped of the spiciness called for in the original recipe. He liked the green curry well enough, eggplant aside, but he absolutely raved about the lemongrass corn stir fry. Do I know my DH’s taste buds or what?

When I found out he was going to have a short lunch break today (due to a little Comcast errand, sigh), I decided to do what any loving wife with ties to Japan or India might do- make my DH a very special tiffin/ bento lunch so even if he couldn’t eat it at home, he could have a real meal back at work. I didn’t count on his enthusiasm- I handed him his bento (Japanese word for boxed lunch) and he immediately pulled the thing apart and started chomping. Good thing it was all packed up.

As for the contents of aforementioned tiffin..

For some reason, the corn stir fry made me think of South American corn-salsa dishes, despite the more exotic lemongrass and thai basil notes in the dish. I couldn’t help myself- I reached into the fridge, took out some corn tortillas from the fridge, and turned them into tasty quesadillas. I used some pre-grated cheese from Trader Joe’s and added some drunken goat cheese (flavored with wine, silly- the goats weren’t actually tipsy) and suddenly had a much more gourmet quesadilla. Layer one of the tiffin held corn quesadilla triangles.

In layer two, I put a generous helping of lemongrass corn stir-fry and then added a corner of avocado sprinkled with salt and a little cup with yogurt.

Finally, in layer three I placed some fresh nectarine and peach cubes (from the farmer’s market this weekend) and freshened them up with a little fresh key lime juice.

This lunch was a great way to use up “leftovers” in an entirely new way. Amazingly, Thai and South American flavors CAN go together beautifully in a tiffin… or in a bento, for that matter. (Depending on if you want to give it an Indian or Japanese twist.) And of course, every element in the tiffin was completely gluten-free.

Now that school season is looming- what do you like to pack in YOUR (or your child’s-or your partner’s) lunch box? I’d love to hear your Lunchbox menus in the comments!

PS I picked up this beautiful little tiffin box on our last trip to India. Isn’t it great? I am getting quite a collection of tiffin boxes- they’re the handiest things ever.


Fusion South American Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Corn Saute
Ingredients
8 corn tortillas
1/3 bag of a Pre-grated low fat cheese like mozzarella
1 2 inch cube of a gourmet hard goat cheese, such as drunken goat cheese (with wine), cut into slivers or shredded

1/4 recipe of Lemongrass Corn Stir Fry (Recipe posted below)

1 Avocado
1 small heirloom tomato (optional), cubed
kosher salt, for sprinkling
1/2 lime or a few key limes

Low fat sour cream or plain low fat yogurt

Directions
Heat a cast iron pan on medium-high and place two corn tortillas so that as much surface as possible is touching the pan and lightly brown. Turn one over so that the remaining untoasted side is touching the pan surface and sprinkle some of your pre-shredded cheese on the browned top. Distribute a small amount of the gourmet goat cheese over the pre-shredded stuff and then cover it with the browned side of the second tortilla, leaving the untoasted side facing up. When the quesadilla is toasted on one side, carefully turn it over and brown the remaining side. (All four sides of the tortillas will have been lightly toasted.)

Remove quesadilla from pan, and make the rest of the quesadillas, following the same method. Meanwhile cube your avocado and heirloom tomato and sprinkle with salt. Squirt with a little fresh lime juice and reserve. To serve, cut each quesadilla into four triangles. Plate with lemongrass corn stir fry as a topping, and add your fresh avocado tomato “salad” on the side, along with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. Enjoy!

Lemongrass Corn Stir Fry
Ingredients
1 1/2 tbsp. peanut or other flavorful oil
inner portion of 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
OR
2 tbsp. preserved chopped lemongrass
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 cups corn kernels (about 3 ears of fresh corn)
3/4 cup gluten-free vegetarian broth (i use bullion)
2 tsp fresh lime zest
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
[pescatarian variation: add 1 tbsp. fish sauce]

1-2 tbsp. freshly julienned thai basil

Directions
Heat oil in wok on high and toss in the lemongrass. Let it sizzle and start to brown and then add your garlic, butter, and onion. Cook until they brown and then add your corn, and stir fry until brown. Add your vegetable broth and stir constantly until broth has reduced and been absorbed into the corn.

Add your lime zest, lime juice, variation elements and heat. At the last minute stir in your fresh basil, taste, season with salt if necessary and serve.

You can add a spicy flavor element if desired, like hot sauce or cayenne pepper.

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Soccas South American Style

April 7th, 2007 yum Posted in Cooking Light, French, Low Carb, South American, Vegetarian 13 Comments »

soccayum.jpg Some time back on the Celiac Bay Area yahoo group , there was a buzz around a new restaurant called “Socca Oven” that opened in Berkeley, California. A chef in the area had opened a sister restaurant to his flagship restaurant Gregoire- but the best part was that everything at this new restaurant was gluten free! The concept was based on the French Socca, “a local speciality of southeastern French cuisine, particularly in and around the city of Nice. It is very similar to the northern Italian farinata, as its primary ingredients are chickpea flour and olive oil.” (Source: Wikipedia) This crepe type flatbread is naturally gluten free, healthy, and friendly to the low carb diet. The restaurant also catered to dairy free dining, with no dairy toppings. We were all excited to try the restaurant, which turned out to be located in a small gourmet food court with outdoor dining. Reports came back- most of us loved the socca crepe itself, although some of the toppings left a little something to be desired. Personally, I tried the rather bland bay scallop topping and the vegetable topping, which was topped with Aioli, a mayonnaise type of sauce. Despite my ambivalence towards the toppings, I loved the chance to eat a gluten free pizza hot out of the brick oven at a real, live restaurant. I was greatly anticipating trying other toppings, such as the favorably reviewed salt cod topping, when the restaurant abruptly closed. Luckily in the meantime, members of the Celiac Bay group had been experimenting with making their own soccas, with delicious results. GlutenFreebytheBay came up with an especially delicious version of the socca, and blogged about it. After making my own, I found that I loved the easy to make chickpea crepe topped with delicious hummus, roasted vegetables, and kalamata olives. This layering of chickpea on chickpea creates a high energy, high protein powerhouse dish that is extremely tasty and satisfying. Ever since the socca has been part of my cooking repertoire. The other day I was reading though a recent issue of Cooking light magazine, and came across a recipe for a wheat flatbread topped with a black bean spread. Of course, their flatbread recipe was out- but it occurred to me that a chickpea socca just might work with a tasty black bean topping. So, I got busy with my cast iron pan. These (modified) recipes are the delicious results. The best part is that this recipe is very flexible and easily dairy and egg free. For a dairy free socca, I recommend adding avocados and pine nuts for a truly luxurious dish. Enjoy!

wholesocca.jpg vegansocca.jpgyumsocca2.jpg

Black Bean Parsley Topping
Ingredients
Black Bean Sauce:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 15 oz can low sodium black beans (OR 2 cups homemade black beans, well rinsed)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (with or without green chilies)
1 or 2 chipotle chilies, deseeded, in GF adobe sauce (read label!)

Good with the following “pizza” toppings:
1 red bell pepper (or 1/2 jar roasted red peppers)
kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or other sharp cheese (optional)
1/2 cup canned fiesta style corn(optional)
1/2 chopped avocado (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts or pumpkin seeds

Cilantro Parsley drizzle:
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (you can change proportions of herbs to taste- I used way less soap, I mean cilantro, than parsley)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp minced garlic

Directions
Blend black bean sauce ingredients in food processor or blender.

To prepare Red Bell Pepper for toppings: broil red peppers (or roast over open flame until charred on all sides), then place in thick plastic bag (freezer quality) for about 10 minutes. Remove skin, then slice or chop (depending on your taste) and reserve.

To make “pizza”, select pizza crust of your choice. I used a chickpea socca because it is so thin and crispy. I seasoned it with cumin seeds and marjoram. I removed it from the oven after 10 minutes rather than the usual 12 minutes, and topped it with a layer of black bean sauce. I then placed any toppings which taste good hot- the optional cheese, red pepper, kalamata olives, pine nuts, and put it back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Put under broiler for a minute or so if desired. (Watch that the socca doesn’t burn!) After you take it out of the oven, drizzle some of the Cilantro Parsley vinagrette on it, any other cold toppings such as avocado, cut, and serve. Enjoy!

Celiacbayarea Group Soccas
Ingredients
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 diced onion
freshly ground pepper
Additional olive oil

For South American flavor:
1 tsp marjoram or oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seed

For Mediterranean flavor:
minced fresh rosemary (needles from 1 stick)

Directions
Heat cast iron pan in oven set to 450 degrees.

Mix bean flour with salt, whisk in warm water and olive oil. Let the
batter sit for at least 30 minutes, then add diced
onion, freshly ground pepper to taste and seasonings (minced rosemary OR marjoram and cumin ETC). Whisk one more time.

Dribble a small amount of olive oil in hot cast iron pan and spread
around to cover using basting brush. Pour about half the batter in
pan. Swirl the pan so the “Crepe” covers the entire surface of the
pan. Make sure it’s not too thick- the thinner the better! Place cast
iron pan back in oven for 12-15 minutes and edges are crisp but not
burnt. Remove from oven, separate crepe from pan with a metal spatula (so it’s easy to remove later), baste top lightly with olive oil and place any toppings you’d like to have heated- place under broiler for about 3 minutes, watching closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Cut into triangles with a pizza cutter and enjoy. If toppings make it
messy, fold over the triangle to eat. Yum! I’d give it a 10/10, it was
that good. DH gave it a 7/10, saying it was good for a socca. (Soccas
aren’t totally his thing).

Example of toppings:
I basted the socca with olive oil and put some kale on top and
broiled it until the kale wilted. Then I took it out of the oven and
topped it with homemade hummus, sliced black olives, and chopped
organic tomatoes. Totally yummy. For the second one I added pine nuts
and fresh basil. Next time I’ll try it with basil or sundried tomato
pesto….

Or, you could do a traditional “pizza” with veggies, meat, and even
cheese. Basically, the sky is the limit.

Notes
On a GF board I’m on (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/celiacbayarea/) people have been experimenting with making soccas, a French “pizza” made from chickpea flour. This recipe would probably be great for diabetics or anyone doing low carb diets- and is egg, soy, and dairy free as well.
—————————————-
I was heavily influenced by GlutenFreeBytheBay’s post. Her blog entry about the socca experience can be found here:

http://glutenfreebay.blogspot.com/2006/10/joy-of-socca.html

I love her hummus topping! The woman’s a culinary genius, I tell ya.

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