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.

Quick and Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

I made some Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken today (see my second blog of the day) and had a little substitute soy sauce left over so thought how about some fried rice. One of my favorite dishes, my mother always made it with bacon and eggs but of course, not able to do that anymore. So this one is fairly easy and quick if you use frozen brown rice (I love the packets from Trader Joe but many markets now carry frozen pre-cooked brown rice, just don’t use the instant – all the good stuff is gone and you’re left with just carbs!). Checked the freezer and the pantry and sure enough had a nice variety of vegetables so decided to give it a try. Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you have in your pantry or freezer.

In a 10″ skillet heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

1/2 medium onion sliced

3 stalks celery sliced on the bias

1/2 cup grated carrot

1 cup frozen French cut green beans

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 small can, drained bamboo shoots or sliced water chestnuts

Cook over medium heat for several minutes, stir once or twice to make sure vegetables cook evenly. Then turn heat down to medium low and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add 1 1/2-2 cups cooked (or frozen) brown rice, stir to combine and cover to heat the rice another 3-5 minutes. Add:

2-4 tablespoons soy sauce substitute

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon red chili flakes or hot sauce (optional)

Stir in the sauce and the dish is ready!

Green Beans with red onion and garlic (dairy-free, soy-free, vegan)

This is a very easy recipe for a delicious side dish. I just love green beans any way I can get them and this is a recipe that happened because I had a half red onion left and a bag of fresh green beans and decided to put them together. The sweetness of the onion pairs very well with the savory green beans. I used fresh green beans but frozen would work just as well. And of course, if you have yellow (or wax as we called them in New Hampshire) beans or even purple string beans those could also be substituted.

You need:

1 pound fresh or frozen string beans, any color

1 medium red onion (or if your family likes lots of onion use a large one)

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

If you’re using fresh string beans, prep them by cutting off the stem end; wash and dry thoroughly. In a 9″ saute pan, heat the olive oil and then add the onion and garlic. Saute several minutes until onion starts to soften then add the string beans. Cover and cook 10-12 minutes over medium heat, stirring several times. If your family likes “crunchy” string beans like my grandson, you can uncover when the beans are tender, increase the heat to high and saute them for a few minutes, leaving them alone, to brown.

Chicken and Dumplings (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

Another thing we always did with leftovers was make a stew and then either serve it with dumplings or put it in a pie crust and make a meat pie with it.    And you could easily do it with a rotisserie chicken or turkey breast from the store.  And you can adjust the vegetables to your taste, i.e., add some cooked diced turnip, parsnips or some lima beans, etc.

In an 8-quart dutch oven mix:

  • 2 cups diced chicken
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 1 cup cooked green beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced onion
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced celery
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced carrots
  • 1 cup cooked diced sweet potato

Add stock until the pot is 2/3 full; this should take 3-4 cups and needs to cover the meat and vegetable mixture.  Mix up your dumplings in your food processor:

  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper

Pulse in:

  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine OR 1/4 cup avocado oil

Once there are pea sized crumbs, add in 3/4 to 1 cup of non-dairy milk depending on if you used the margarine or the oil (I use rice milk but soy would work as well; you want a milk that doesn’t have a strong aftertaste).  Pulse until well mixed and the batter is smooth.  If your like your dumplings more flavorful, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of an herb mixture OR 1/4 cup fresh parsley to the sifted dry ingredients.

Drop by tablespoons into your boiling stew.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then cover and cook an additional 10 minutes or until dumplings look dry on top.  Makes about 12 smaller dumplings or 6 large dumplings (the larger ones will take longer to cook so I usually make them smaller for ease of cooking and my husband usually eats 2-3 of them.

Remove the dumplings into a dish and keep warm in the oven while you thicken the stock.  Mix 1/4 cup of brown rice flour into 1/2 cup of cold stock until its smooth without any lumps.  Add to the boiling stew, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens.  If its too thin, make another slurry of brown rice flour and cold stock (a tablespoon at a time) until it reaches the desired thickness.  Be sure the gravy boils before you add more flour slurry since it will thicken more as it boils.  And be sure to stir scraping the bottom of the pot so that the gravy doesn’t burn on the bottom (also reduce the heat; you don’t want to do this on a high heat).

Return the dumplings to the pot and serve.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie (Dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

One of my husband’s favorite dishes is a pot pie.  This one has lots of tender chicken or turkey for my husband along with plenty of vegetables to satisfy me.  If you pre-bake the bottom crust, it won’t get as soggy from the gravy while baking.  Feel free to change up the vegetables — lima beans, mushrooms, garlic, etc. can be added along with greens like kale or spinach (chopped of course).  I had some leftover mushrooms that I sautéed, cut up and added to my stew.  Some diced sweet potatoes would also do well in a stew or any diced and cooked winter squash.

First make some chicken or turkey stew:

  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked string beans
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup cooked chicken or turkey diced
  • 3 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • Herbs, salt and pepper to your taste

Cook the onions and celery in a little oil under tender, about 3 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups of the stock and herbs.  Whisk the brown rice flour into the other 1/2 cup of stock and add it to the stockpot and whisk until the mixture thickens.  Add the cooked meat and vegetables and cool in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the pot pie or whatever you want to do with the stew (you could also use this for chicken and dumplings or a chicken casserole with a cauliflower crust).

If you don’t cool the stew before adding it to the pot pie, the bottom crust will get too soggy, even if you pre-baked it.

You can either make your own gluten-free crust (see my recipe for pie crust), use a mix (Bob’s Red Mill makes a very tasty mix) or purchase a ready-made gluten-free crust.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Pre-bake your crust per package directions.  When cool, add the cooled stew to fill the pie crust.  Add top layer and bake approximately 40 minutes until pie bubbles and top crust is browned.

String Bean Casserole (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, vegan)

A Thanksgiving classic, this is a side dish I had to give up years ago because of the milk and gluten.  Here it is revisited and so delicious with the home-made cream of mushroom soup along with the onion and bread crumb topping.  I like to use the mixed string beans — green and yellow.  It takes a few more steps than your old fashioned green bean casserole but it tastes just as good.

Steam 1 pound of green beans.  While they’re cooking, cut half a large sweet Vidalia onion into slices and then cut the slices in half (or use all of a medium size onion).

To a medium skillet, over medium heat, add:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • the onions

Cook until soft and starting to caramelize.  Stir in:

  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Grease a 5×8″ casserole dish.  Mix the string beans and 2 cups of cream of mushroom soup (see recipe under soups and salads).  Add to the casserole dish and top with the onion mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour and then, if you want it browner, stick it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.