Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mung beans and greens in coconut milk

This is a picture from several months ago. That time, we made it with beet greens and served it with beet salad.

This is a great recipe I got out of Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. I find the Moosewood cookbooks very accessible, and in addition to a lot of tasty, healthy, easy recipes, they have a lot of basic information about beans, grains, and vegetables that is really helpful. Sundays at Moosewood is a collection of various ethnic dishes from several different regions of the world. This recipe is from the Southeast Asian section of the cookbook. They claim it is from the Philippines, but I've never been there, so I don't know how authentic it is. But it's very tasty and filling. I would describe it as comfort food.

I went to the farmers' market on Saturday and splurged on a big bag of sweet potato leaves. I had never tried them before, and the lady said it was the last of the season, so I decided to get them. Any time I get to try a new green, I am happy. Sweet potato leaves are about the size of spinach, although they hold up to heat a little better. I used about half of them in this dish and saved the rest so I could eat them in a more pure form and get to know their flavor better. (In case you're curious, they taste pretty much like any other green, but when you cook them, there is a distinct sweet potato aroma.) The sweet potato greens worked well in this dish, but so do any other greens.

This dish is an example of luxurious, indulgent vegan cooking. Coconut milk is incredibly rich, so you will not feel like you're depriving yourself of anything. In fact, you'll probably want to round out your meal with something light and fresh to balance the richness of this dish. We made more plumcot spring rolls, which fit the bill perfectly. A green salad with a nice acidic dressing would be good too. This is good served over either jasmine or brown rice, but it's good on its own too.

Mung beans and greens in coconut milk
It's almost impossible to have too many greens in this dish, so if you've got a giant bunch of something and no other plans for it, just throw the whole thing in.

1 1/2 cups whole or split mung beans (I prefer whole)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger, optional
1/2 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp soy sauce
Dash Sriracha or cayenne or some other spicy-maker
3-4 cups greens, chopped (I've used beet greens, chard, red Russian kale, and now sweet potato leaves, all to great effect)

Cover mung beans in plenty of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the texture is to your liking. 35 minutes is good for me. Drain beans and set aside.
Saute the onion in the oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Lower the heat, add the garlic, ginger, and salt, and cook for another 4 minutes or so. Add the beans, coconut milk, soy sauce, and Sriracha and simmer for about 5 minutes. Throw in the greens and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they wilt. Taste and add a little more soy sauce or Hoisin sauce if you want.

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