Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stir-Dehydrate - or, an impromptu weeknight dinner

I learned to appreciate vegetables at a young age. In fact, there was not really any learning to be done - I have always instinctively loved all things veg. Unlike most food-fussy children, I had no problem gobbling up broccoli, and I salivated at the mere mention of spinach. While I shunned anything that was of recognizable animal origins (I could handle hamburgers but balked at steak or chicken), I happily snacked on raw veggie sticks and filled my plates with seconds of peas, potatoes and parsnips.

One of my mom's staple weeknight dinners was the classic stir-fry, and as a vegetable lover this was always a favorite of mine. Hers tended to be very onion-and-pepper centric, but I did learn from her the beauty of throwing a bundle of whatever vegetables are on hand into a big ole' frypan and making them taste delicious by topping them with assorted savory sauces. As I learned to cook for myself, particularly as I appreciated the beauty of healthy vegetarian eating, I relied more and more on the stir-fry for a quick, easy and yummy weeknight meal. In fact for ages my favorite post-yoga dinner was a big bowl of stir-fried greens and tofu.

Transitioning the stir-fry to the stir-dehydrate takes a tad bit more planning, but it's just as forgiving and delicious as its cooked counterpart. I say it takes more planning simply because I like to warm it for at least half an hour in the dehydrator, but you could eat it totally fresh if you're short on time. In winter I really need to eat my food slightly warmer than room temperature for comfort reasons - my old house is really cold, and warm food really seems to help me keep the chills at bay.

The only requirements for this recipe are a lot of asian greens - in fact, today's inspiration is some lovely local bok choy with gorgeous little purple streaks and an intensely cabbagey flavor - and a good savory sauce. Other than that, you can play around with the veggies you add or subtract - just use whatever you have on hand. I even tossed in some tempeh here to bulk it up a bit more. I serve this one with strips of coconut meat as noodles because I like to add a bit more fat into my winter diet, but you could lighten it up with zucchini or kelp noodles instead. Either way, definitely try this sauce - it's a winner that I keep coming back to again and again.


3 bunches bok choy, chopped width-wise into thin slices
1/4 head of cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
4 large swiss brown mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 spring onions, chopped into 1cm pieces
meat of 1 young Thai coconut, cut into ribbons
drizzle of olive oil (or use sesame or other oil of your choice)
big pinch of himalayan salt

2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp miso paste
1 tsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil (or sesame, or other oil of your choice)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
a few drops toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds

Mix chopped vegetables, coconut noodles, oil and salt in a bowl and toss to coat. Place bowl in dehydrator, or spread veggies over teflex sheet, and leave at least 1/2 hour to warm and soften veggies.

For the sauce: combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Adjust seasoning to your taste - remember, the taste should be intense but balanced as it will be spread over all those veggies.

When veggies are warm enough for you, toss with sauce in a bowl. Top with sesame seeds and eat with chopsticks! Serves 2 as a main meal.

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