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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Vegetarian International Recipes at Home: Corn Quesadilla Recipe with Rice and Beans and Thai Peanut Noodle Salad Recipe

January 3rd, 2008 yum Posted in Corn Tortillas, Mexican, Peanut, Salad, Thai, Vegetables, Vegetarian, tortillas 4 Comments »

salad4.jpgWhen I returned from my month long trip to India and then Austria, one of the things I was most looking forward to was being in my gluten-free kitchen again. Silly? Maybe, but being away from home, especially somewhere where you don’t speak the language, can offer all kinds of dining challenges, and I was pretty tired of the gluten-free staples I’d relied on overseas. Potatoes and cold salads can be tasty, but I was ready for some variety. The first meal I prepared when I returned home was boring, but something I always crave after a long flight- gluten-free pasta and tomato sauce from a jar with Parmesan cheese. Gourmet, no? Ok, maybe not. But to me it is the ultimate comfort dish. DH enjoyed it as well when I switched from rice pasta to Mrs. Leepers corn pasta. But that’s not a very blog-worthy meal, and I have so many things to post about from my trip. Posts on the drawing board include…

South Indian Cuisine: Dosas, Idli’s and other naturally gluten-free foods
Reformhaus or Health Food Stores in Austria and Germany: Review of Gluten-free foods by 3Pauly, Schar, etc.
Dining Gluten-Free in Restaurants in Austria: Vienna, Salzburg, and Fussen
Gluten-Free Gasthaus: My Experience at a Zoeliakie Bed and Breakfast in Austria
Decoding a Coffee Menu in German: How to order the perfect gluten-free espresso beverage

Also, now that I’ve been exposed to the cake and coffee culture in Austria, I’ve been inspired to come up with gluten-free recipes for all kinds of Austrian cakes. You can expect experiments for Apple Strudel, a Gluten-free Sacher-style torte (Chocolate Cake), and more.

I’m torn between experiences of the past and present at the moment. I definitely want to share all of my past experiences with you, but now that I’m back home I have a lot of tasty plans for new dishes. So, I think I’ll alternate posts about our trip with posts about my latest culinary creations. Our first real meal home was basmati rice with southern fried tofu and roasted chili garlic broccoli. But after that, I started playing around with some new recipes. To use up leftover basmati rice, I came up with Spanish Rice Quesadillas with Refried Bean Recipe for a tasty and healthy breakfast. DH made a special request for dinner, asking for a “main dish salad with Asian flavors.” I adapted a sauce recipe from an unpretentious cookbook called “All You Can Eat Chinese and Thai Cooking” and came up with a mixture of lettuce, carrots, jicama, apple, and rice noodles for the base of the salad- enough carbs and vegetables to make us both happy. DH proclaimed it to be exactly what he wanted, and oddly enough, it turned out to be just what I wanted, too. In fact, it was so good I wanted to share it with you all right away. My next post will probably be the conclusion of my series on our Indian culinary experience, but for now, here’s a little taste of the activity in my kitchen lately. I plan on making a batch of DFIL’s Gluten-Free Norwegian Christmas Bread today, and still intend to share Adeena’s yummy recipe for Gluten-free Teff Dinner Rolls, so you can expect to see these recipes soon, too… Enjoy!

*note: as always, you can substitute any nut butter for the peanut butter in this recipe.

Spanish Rice Quesadillas with Refried Beans
Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 or 3 cups cold long grained rice (white or brown)
1 whole white onion, diced
1 tbsp capers, diced
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tsp or more whole cumin seeds
sprinkling of fajita seasoning

corn tortillas
canned vegetarian refried pinto beans
1 or 2 oz. skim mozarella or other white, lowfat cheese, sliced (optional)

1/2 fresh jicama, cubed
1/2 fresh avocado, cubed
salt
lime juice

hot sauce if desired

Directions
Heat your olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat and add diced onion when hot. Sautee your diced onion and when it begins to look translucent, add your capers, garlic, and cumin seed. When seasonings are warm, add rice and sprinkle it with fajita spices and mix. If you have room, move your rice over and heat a dash of little peanut oil in a corner of the pan, adding your mashed refried beans to the oil and letting them heat. If you like, take two corn tortillas and heat them one side on the surface of the cast iron pan, moving the rice so that it is on top of the tortilla. When one side of the tortilla is lightly browned, turn over one tortilla, and layer cheese (if desired), the refried beans, some seasoned rice, and the other tortilla, with the browned side facing the filling. Let the cheese melt and turn over your quesadilla so both sides are browned.

Prepare your jicama and avocado, sprinkle them with salt and squeeze some lime juice on them. Top your quesadilla with extra seasoned, mexican rice and the seasoned jicama and avocado. Add some hot sauce to the edges of your plate and enjoy.

Notes
This was a good way to use up the basmati rice DH wasn’t especially excited about…
Cold Szechuan Sesame Noodle Salad
Ingredients
Mild Szechwan Peanut Sauce:
3 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tbsp wheat free tamari (i prefer San-J low-sodium variety)
1 tbsp water
4 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
a few drops of hot sauce (optional)

8 oz. skinny rice noodles (thai or vietnamese variety)
a few drops of sesame oil
Mild Szechuan Peanut Sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts

1 package firm tofu
peanut oil
salt

1/3 head of romaine lettuce
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/4 jicama, diced
1/2 apple, sliced (optional)
salt, lime juice

Directions
Combine ingredients for sauce in food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Prepare rice noodles by bringing water to boil, submerging your noodles, turning off the burner and letting them soak until soft. Rinse in cold water and drain, reserve.

Cut tofu block in half and press between towel for at least 30 minutes. Slice tofu into strips, heat a small amount of oil (1 tbsp, more if desired) in a cast iron pan and fry strips, turning when golden on one side. When both sides are golden, sprinkle with salt and put on plate with paper towel to get off any excess oil. When cool, cut into thin strips slightly bigger than a matchstick.

Prepare and clean lettuce, carrots, jicama, and apple. Lightly sprinkle jicama with salt and lime juice.

Make salad by preparing a bed of dry, spun lettuce leaves and topping it with the cold noodles. You can add a few drops of sesame oil (baby droplets) to the noodles to loosen them if they’ve stuck together and distribute through your serving of noodles. mix with sesame seeds or pine nuts, and other prepared vegetables (and apple). Drizzle dressing and top with tofu strips. Enjoy!

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