A very green dinner

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My last entry for Farmers’ Market week! This time our local ground beef was the star, with the fresh kale in a supporting role.

Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from a recipe at The Cynical Chef

Ingredients:

  • 16 butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or 2 tbsp white vinegar + 1 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and quartered
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Siracha hot sauce

Directions:

1) Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.

2) In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool.

3) Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and Siracha to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions, mushrooms, and red pepper have cooked, about 7-10 minutes.

4) To serve, spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!

I loved this recipe. It kind of reminded me of sushi, in a weird way. Not the ingredients (obviously) but the wonderful feeling of protein inside a leafy, green wrap. Maybe this is a good time to explain that I love lettuce—the taste, the texture, the color. Lettuce wraps pretty much encapsulate (ha!) everything that I love about lettuce while still feeling different and exotic, mostly thanks to the Asian ingredients: sesame oil, water chestnuts, hoisin sauce. Anyway, 4.5 out of 5 for me on this: it was awesome. The Boyfriend said he liked it too but he would have rather eaten the beef mixture over rice than inside a lettuce leaf.

We were under a time crunch so we made a simple side dish: sautéed kale. And when I say we, I really mean him: The Boyfriend graciously took care of the kale so I could focus on dinner and we could get out of the door sooner rather than later. The kale was okay—this is one of our go-to recipes because it is easy but it won’t win any flavor awards anytime soon. It is definitely competent but not exciting, if you know what I mean. He did a great job with it, the recipe is just not very exciting; but it is easy and it tastes good.

Sautéed Kale

Adapted from a recipe at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • ½ bunch kale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 garlic scape) chopped
  • ½ cup stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1) Wash kale; remove stem and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

3) Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored.

4) Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

5) Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Due to all of the green, I was pretty satisfied with the healthiness quotient of this meal.

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