27 November 2014

Son of Iron, Man! – Givin' Thanks for Beans 'n' Greens

This year's foodblogging: kale and pasta salad with pinto beans and sauteed tempeh.

INGREDIENTS (precise measurements customarily omitted per my previously discussed impatience with them)

•Several leaves each of green, red, and lacinato kale, finely chopped
•1 package Trader Joe's 3 Grain Tempeh, cubed
•1/3 to 1/2 bag Trader Joe's Brown Rice Fusilli*, cooked
•1 can Trader Joe's Organic Pinto Beans with Sea Salt, drained and rinsed
•Small handful of finely chopped red onion
•Small handful of finely chopped garlic
•Olive Oil (for coating the salad)
•Coconut Oil (for sauteing the tempeh)
•Bragg's Liquid Aminos
•Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
•Dash of ground cayenne pepper


Combine the three varieties of chopped kale in a large mixing bowl. Coat with olive oil and Liquid Aminos to taste. Mix in the chopped red onion and pinto beans, then the cooked pasta with an additional splash of olive oil to grease the skids.

In a large skillet, dissolve the cayenne pepper and chopped garlic in coconut oil over medium heat. Add the cubed tempeh and saute until lightly browned on the bottom. Before turning with a spatula, splash on Liquid Aminos to taste and a generous heap of 21 Seasoning Salute. Flip/mix thoroughly and allow to brown again.

Finally, combine contents of skillet with those of large mixing bowl, toss, and enjoy.


Now some tips in case anyone actually tries to make this. Perhaps it's my own impatience or simply that I'm often, unlike today, in quite a hurry in the kitchen, but I find getting the right amount of salt (that's the Liquid Aminos here) quite elusive, especially when coating the kale. You can burn the tempeh and overcook the pasta and the salting can still make or break the dish. So experiment and be careful not to overdo it on the first pass.

Second, resist the temptation to dissolve the 21 Seasoning Salute in the hot oil before adding the tempeh. It will just burn. Once I realized this, a quantum leap in Ironman!tology was achieved.

Finally, this dish is a direct experimental descendant of last year's recipe, and that is to say that early versions involved combining everything step-by-step in the skillet and cooking it all together. That still works okay, and it's still a great way to deal with a half-bag of kale that got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten for two weeks. However, as I was doing this kind of thing a lot, I eventually decided I needed to figure out a way to eat more raw kale and onions rather than simply steaming/frying the piss out of them all the time and hence likely losing a lot of the nutrients. Here, then, is one very nice solution IMHO.

Incidentally, while I was always apprehensive about sharing last year's dish for fear people might not really like it, I have since stumbled on the perfect use for it which I suspect could more reliably be served to guests: as filling for Fajitas Gringos with the tortillas of your choice. That's fuh-JY-tahs, the way your college roommate's white-ass parents would say it when you would all go to Chipotle after someone's degree recital.

That's all for this year, foodie friends. Keep fighting the good fight against vegan anemia, and maybe keep those gas pills close at hand as well. Til the next time hunger strikes...

*Not that I really care, but I am suspicious that TJs has actually mislabeled rotini as fusilli here. At the top of the latter's Wikipedia page, there is a notice that it has been proposed to merge the two entries; however, the picture to the immediate right is of something not quite like what I put in my salad today, which may explain why the proposal has evidently not yet achieved approval from the hive mind.

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