Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bean and Grain Lunch Bowl

One of the great benefits of gardening is that it allows for experimenting with cooking creativity. When something is growing plentifully in my garden, I don’t feel at all guilty about cutting it and trying it in a new recipe knowing it might totally flop. Since I hadn’t cooked in a few days, today I decided it was time for creativity and experimentation.

My inspiration was beans and garlic scapes. I had been craving beans of any sort for a few days. They’re such nutrient-filled little packages that I’m always promising myself I’ll eat them more often then forgetting to do so.

Garlic scapes are the seed pods that develop on top of garlic stalks in early June. The stalk curls and if you leave the scape, I think it will turn into a flower. To get larger garlic bulbs, cut the scape so the plant’s energy will go the bulb.

After cutting the scapes I was enraptured by the garlic fragrance and wanted to cook with them. So I decided it could probably enhance an easy lunch. Here’s what I created.

Bean and Grain Lunch Bowl

Put some lentils on to cook (if using another bean, it will likely need more cooking time). Add vegetable broth and one garlic scape with outer skin removed, leaving the still developing flower. Bring to boil then turn to simmer until done, approximately 30 minutes.

Slice medium onion and caramelize or sauté (depending on how much time you have since caramelizing takes longer). Chop one cup Swiss chard and add to onions. Measure 2/3 cups tomatoes (preferably home-canned but store-bought should work) and add to mixture. Cook on low heat until you develop a nice mixture.

Cook quinoa in water five minutes. If using another grain, allow for whatever cooking time it requires.

If you grow herbs or have some fresh from the farmer’s market or store, pick out some of your favorites. I cut some cilantro, parsley and chives. Cut them directly into your lunch bowl.

When all ingredients are cooked, spoon out equal amounts from each ingredient into bowl with the herbs. Mix and eat.

I found this to be delicious, although I didn’t get a strong garlic flavor, which surprised me. It was also quite filling and packed with everything good for me, so if I eat a piece of cake later, I won’t feel guilty.

I still have more garlic scapes in the kitchen. The creative experimentation will continue.

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