GF Vegetarian Lunch Tiffin Bento Menu for the DH: Goat Cheese Quesadillas and Lemongrass Corn Recipe
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.
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
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)
Low fat sour cream or plain low fat yogurt
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
1 1/2 tbsp. peanut or other flavorful oil
inner portion of 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
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
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.