Thursday, July 23, 2015

Leaf-to-Stem Goodness

There is an abundance of fresh herbs, especially in summer. If buying a big bunch and only using a few leaves as a garnish, and letting the rest go to waste, think again! These recipes utilize both the leaves AND the stems (and lots of it!) to make the most of these nutrient-dense, alkalizing, and immunity-boosting small (but mighty) plant foods. Enjoy!

1 cup uncooked wild rice*
2½ cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ garlic clove, finely chopped
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups parsley, finely chopped
2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced into ½" pieces 
1 cucumber or a 2-3 Persian cucumbers, diced into ½" pieces 
  • Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Place the rice into a saucepan with water and bring to a boil on high heat. 
  • When boiling, turn the heat down to keep a slow simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring once about midway through cooking. Remove cover. If it's too moist and the grains are already cooked, turn up the heat to evaporate the water. If not cooked yet, place the cover on again and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. When ready, transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool.  
  • In a small bowl, prepare the dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and sea salt. 
  • Toss the cooled-down cooked rice, parsley, tomatoes, and cucumber with the dressing and serve at room temperature.

* You can also make this with cooked quinoa, couscous, or any other whole grain. 

½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
½ cup chopped Persian cucumber, peeled
2" segment of the white part of a spring onion, chopped
½ clove garlic, chopped

¼ cup olive oil or avocado oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp salt
3+ Tbsp water
2-3 generous sprigs of fresh dill
2-3 generous sprigs of fresh basil
10+ stems fresh chives
2-3 generous sprigs of fresh Italian parsley
¼ -½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Using a blender, blend the cashews, cucumber, spring onion, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt, and water until smooth and creamy. Add more if you would like a thinner consistency. Transfer to a bowl or jar.
  • Chop the fresh herbs very finely and stir into the creamy cashew mixture. Add the red pepper flakes, if using.

If really using herbs as a garnish, or making a Rustic Pesto (by hand), then it's easier to use the leaves only. BUT reserve the stems, store them in a bag in the freezer, to make a delicious soup stock/broth! Think of, and save, any other food "scraps" you may have like kale stems, chard stems, the tough parts of asparagus, carrot tops, celery leaves, leek tops, broccoli trunks, mushroom stems, etc. Even onion skins are good to help make the stock a luscious golden brown. I haven't bought soup stock in ages because it's usually way too salty (even the low-sodium ones) for me, giving me a headache and is so dehydrating. Anyhow, it's so easy to make, and store. It lasts in the fridge for about 5 days, to use for cooking quinoa or rice, as a nutritious and flavorful addition to any sauces. Otherwise, store in freezer-safe containers for future use.

1 or 2 gallon bagfuls of vegetable stalks and stems
1 onion, with skin on, cut into quarters
2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 2" segments
2 celery stalks, cut into 2" segments
1-2 tsp sea salt
Water to cover all ingredients
  • Place everything into a large stockpot. Fill with enough water to cover everything by 2 inches.
  • Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the surface in the first 10 minutes.
  • Cover and turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 1 hour. 
(If making Bone Broth, add 2-3 lbs of soup, neck, or knuckle bones to the above, and simmer for 10-12 hours. I usually do this during the day on a weekend, and allow it to cool down overnight, with the pot covered) 

*You can use a slow-cooker to also make these stocks. 

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