String Beans and Mushrooms with Garlic Sauce

Far easier to make than eggplant with garlic sauce, string beans with garlic sauce is a much more commonly found Chinese dish. It’s just as tasty, sweet and tangy but since the string beans are not deep fried, don’t need to be salted and let sit to lose their bitterness, or dredged in corn starch, the dish is so easy to construct, taking just minutes. Pre-steaming the beans or using frozen ones makes it even quicker to prepare. Many vegetables lend themselves to this process – broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

First prepare the beans by steaming or thawing them – any color string beans works equally well:

1 pound fresh or frozen string beans (I used yellow [or wax as my father always called them])

Remove the stems and steam for approximately 3-5 minutes until starting to tenderize but still have a bite, like al dente pasta. In a 12″ skillet, over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When the oil is shimmering hot, add:

6 ounces mushrooms

Sauté the mushrooms until lightly browned and tender. Add the string beans and remove from heat. In a small saucepan (2 cup size), heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When hot add:

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 small can mild green chilis

Cook until the shallot softens before adding:

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup soy sauce substitute

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon date syrup

Stir to combine. Make a slurry of:

2 teaspoons corn starch or arrowroot

1 tablespoon water

Add to the sauce and stir until the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 5-7 minutes. Add to the string beans and mushrooms and reheat the vegetables over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with scallion greens and serve.*

*I actually only used half the garlic sauce so put the other half into a 1 cup jelly jar and stuck it in the freezer for the next time I need it.

Vietnamese Pork Chops

This combines ingredients from several recipes I found online. Pork and chicken, along with some fish, are the only meats I eat so I’m always searching for new ways to cook them as well as vegan alternatives. This is quite an easy recipe that turns out succulent with a pleasant sour flavor from the lime squeezed on top when the chops are cooked. I’ll give you some optional ingredients along with the ones I used if a more complex flavor profile is desired and soy is an option.

In a square or rectangular dish, whisk together the marinade:

1 small shallot, minced

3 tablespoons honey or 1/4 cup date sugar

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup Hoisin, soy or oyster sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 stalks lemon grass (smashed and chopped fine)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Trim the fat, puncture each chop with a fork in multiple places on both sides so the marinade soaks in, and then add to the marinade:

4 – 1″ thick pork chops

Turn the pork chops so they are fully covered in the marinade. Let sit at least 20-30 minutes (or up to 1 day in the refrigerator). When ready to cook, heat a 12″ skillet over medium high:

1 tablespoon olive oil

until shimmering. Wipe the marinade off the chops and add to the oil. Sear on each side (approximately 1 minute per side) and then reduce heat to medium and sauté until the chops are firm to the touch, about 3-4 minutes per side. Watch closely so they don’t burn on either side. Remove from heat and let rest for 6-8 minutes before serving. Serve with a wedge of lime. Serves 4.

Seafood Linguini

This is a dish I’ve been making for years, thought I’d already posted it but I don’t find. It’s a nice change of pace from pasta with a tomato-based sauce. And very easy to make, just be sure not to overcook the bay scallops and the calamari! Cooking the pasta takes a lot longer than making the sauce. And of course, feel free to use the seafood your family likes best. Makes 2 servings.

First, put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Cook 1/2 box of gluten-free linguini according to package directions. Be sure to salt the water when it comes to a boil before adding the pasta.

When there’s about 5 minutes left on the pasta cooking time add to the boiling water:

1 cup green peas (thaw out if using frozen)

When the pasta is almost cooked, heat a medium saucepan with a high edge over medium heat. Add:

1/4 cup olive oil*

When the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium low and add:

1 finely diced scallion

When the scallion is translucent, add:

1/2 pound bay scallops

2 teaspoons minced garlic (for a more garlicy flavor, add more minced garlic)

1/2 pound small cleaned shrimp

Cook over medium low heat for about a minute or two, just until the shrimp are starting to color, then add:

1/2 pound cleaned and sliced calamari (I use both the parts, chop up the tentacles just a little into bit size pieces)

1 small can chopped or baby clams with the liquid**

Cook for about 30 seconds, the calamari don’t take very long at all to cook. They will change color just a little, especially the tentacles and the white slices will curl when they are cooked. Immediately take the pan off the heat, cover if the pasta isn’t quite ready.*** Add:

Juice of 1/2 lemon

When the pasta and peas are drained, put back into the pot and add the sauce. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes so that the pasta can absorb some of the sauce. Toss, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with minced chives.

*For a lower fat sauce, reduce the olive oil to 1 tablespoon and add 1/4 cup clam juice when you add the scallops and shrimp.

**Feel free to use fresh clams in the shell but add them before the scallops and cover the pan for about 2 minutes, or until they are just starting to open, before adding the remaining ingredients.

***To avoid overcooking the seafood, I generally cook the pasta before I make the sauce. Drain the pasta and rinse to remove residual starch. Place the strainer in the pot with a little water in the bottom, cover so that there’s a little steam to keep the pasta warm while you make the sauce, and place over a very low heat.

****I used chickpea pasta and I wouldn’t recommend it for this dish. I also only had spaghetti which is a little thick and didn’t play well with the seafood. Linguini is really the pasta to use.

Chicken “Divan”

Traditionally Chicken Divan is made with heavy cream, eggs, and broccoli. I can’t eat any of those things so I’ve revised the recipe. I used bok choy and mushrooms for my vegetables but feel free to use broccoli or any other vegetables that your family likes.

In a large skillet, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is hot, over medium heat add:

1 large shallot diced

6 ounces of sliced mushrooms

Let cook for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are starting to wilt and shallot is turning translucent. Add:

2 cups chopped bok choy including greens (or your vegetable of choice)

Stir in the bok choy along with:

1/4 cup chicken stock

Cover and let steam until bok choy is tender, 3-5 minutes. Remove cover to let the stock reduce. When the stock is basically gone, remove from heat to a separate dish.

In a gallon food storage bag mix:

3 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt (or herbamare)

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together and add:

6-8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture.

Heat over medium heat in the same skillet:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering, add the chicken making sure not to overfill the skillet. As the chicken browns, 3-5 minutes, turn and brown on the other side. Remove from heat onto a plate and repeat if needed. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add to the oil:

the dredging flour

If the flour doesn’t combine with all the oil, add more flour until the oil and flour mixture is pasty. Whisk to remove any lumps and over low heat, cook for 2-3 minutes until the flour is slightly browned and cooked. Add:

1 cup chicken stock

Whisk in the stock to remove any lumps. Bring to a simmer and add:

1 cup non-dairy milk (NOT SOY!)

Simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens then add:

4 ounces non-dairy parmesan cheese grated

Whisk to combine and let simmer for several minutes or until the cheese starts to melt. Cut the chicken into large pieces. Add any juices to the sauce.

In a 8×10″ baking dish, arrange the chicken pieces with the vegetable mixture on top. Pour the sauce over the vegetables. Bake for 30-40 minutes , sauce should be bubbling.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. Serves 4-6.

NOTE: I got my flour a little too brown; you may have a lighter sauce.