GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME & BUTTERNUT SQUASH

I drink tea every evening and often incorporate it in my cooking (and baking). Any green tea will work well for this recipe, but I used a very special kind, that goes by the beautiful name Thunder Dragon. I did not know, but that’s how people of Bhutan call their country… Bhutan: The Land of the Thunder Dragon. Isn’t that beautiful? The tea they produce is rarely exported, but not too long ago was available for sale by “In Pursuit of Tea”, and I got some. First time I made this dish, I brewed some tea and used it to cook the rice later, but if you don’t have a problem with the tea leaves staying around… this method is easier and delivers the same flavor.

GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the rice:
1 cup Basmati rice, rinse and drained
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tsp, or to taste)
2 cups water
2 tsp green tea leaves (loose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled edamame (frozen works great)

for the butternut squash:
1/2 butternut squash, cut in 1-inch pieces
olive oil to coat
salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Start by roasting the butternut squash. Heat the oven to 420F. Coat the pieces of squash with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place as a single layer on a baking dish lined with aluminum foil, sprinkle a bit of water (a tablespoon or so), and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 25 minutes, remove the cover and roast for 20 more minutes uncovered while you prepare the rice.

If using frozen edamame, remove it from the freezer and place on a baking dish to defrost while you make the rice. Heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the ginger, saute for a few seconds, and add the rice. Season with salt, and saute for a minute, until all grains are well coated with oil. Add the water, tea, and bring to a gently boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Place the edamame on top of the rice and cover the pan again. Leave for 10 minutes undisturbed, and when the butternut squash is ready, fluff the rice, mix the edamame with it, and serve with the squash around it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The rice can stand on its own as a side dish, but the color, texture and taste of the roasted squash was surprisingly good with it. I often do a very similar approach using frozen corn kernels instead of edamame. The residual steam as the rice is ready and waiting is enough to warm up the corn and it retains a very nice texture. If you ever want to perk your rice up, it’s a pretty easy way to do it. I might do a double feature next time, edamame and corn together, green and yellow, the colors of Brazil!

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EDAMAME HUMMUS IN CUCUMBER BITES

If you’d like to especially please guests  who are low-carbing, or simply want to serve something very flavorful but kind to everyone’s waistline, this is a perfect option.   I’ve got a recipe for edamame dip already published, but this one knocked my socks off.  Another fascinating English expression that made me smile the first time I heard it.  No similar phrase exists in Portuguese, I must add, and as far as I searched, its origin is uncertain. Feel free to enlighten me with an explanation in the comments…  😉

The recipe comes from a great blog called “Tess’s  Japanese Kitchen”.  Tess became a real expert on the subject by working her way through the 250 recipes from this book by  Hiroko Shimbo. Pretty amazing!   If you are into authentic Japanese cooking, bookmark her blog and get ready to learn a lot from it. And, while you are at it, reserve a bookmark for Ms. Shimbo’s site, Hiroko’s Kitchen.

BRIGHT GREEN EDAMAME DIP IN CUCUMBER BITES 
(slightly modified from Tess’s Japanese Kitchen)

for the cucumber “cups’
3 cucumbers

for the dip
1 cup shelled edamame (frozen is fine)
2 ounces feta cheese
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons non-fat yogurt (low or full fat is ok)
1  teaspoons salt
juice of half a lemon
a sprinkle of paprika for color contrast

Make the cucumber “cups” by peeling the cucumbers leaving streaks of unpeeled portions.  Cut in 3/4 inch slices, and carefully hollow each slice to form a small cup.  Discard the pulp. Reserve the cucumber slices, if they seem too wet place them over paper towels to catch excess liquid.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the edamame until they are tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain them in a colander and rinse briefly with cold water to stop the cooking.  Let it cool slightly, then add to the bowl of a food processor.

Add all other ingredients, except the paprika.  Process to make a smooth paste, scraping the sides of the bowl midway through processing.  Taste, adjust seasoning, and spoon small portions of the dip inside the hollowed cucumber slices.  Serve any additional dip with crackers or crudites.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

If you want to go real fancy, take a Zen breath and try your hands at this beautiful preparation of cucumber cups, yet another courtesy of Tess. I imagine the dip would look pretty awesome in the center of those little flowers…

When I brought this platter to  a departmental get-together, most people were puzzled, trying to figure out where the green color was coming from.

“Avocado? could it be avocado?”

“No, I don’t think so…. I taste some cheese, but no avocado”…

“What is in it?”

Mysterious or not, everyone loved it! The feta contributes a nice salty bite, the yogurt mellows it down, and the edamame closes the deal with its umami aura, very special. My slight modification was to reduce the amount of olive oil (the original had 6 tablespoons instead of 3), use non-fat yogurt instead or regular, and add lemon juice because I am a lemon freak. Sounds a bit wicked, but… such is life.  😉

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EDAMAME DIP

T’is the season to splurge, indulge, and be jolly!  But, even in time of non-stop celebrations,  it’s good to have a few options of lighter food that won’t make you feel sluggish and heavy.  I’ve had this recipe for edamame dip in my files for a long time, finally gave it a try the week before Christmas. Originally from Alton Brown, this adaptation was published in the  blog Closet Cooking.  Kevin substantially reduced the fat content in the dip by using part of the cooking liquid from the edamame to adjust the texture, instead of olive oil.

EDAMAME DIP
(adapted from Closet Cooking)

1 cup edamame beans (I used frozen)
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1/2 cup cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon yellow miso
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce (I used Sriracha)
salt, if needed

Place the edamame in a small saucepan, cover with water and boil for 5 minutes.  Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

Add the cooked edamame into the bowl of a food processor, together with all other ingredients.  Process until it forms a paste, and adjust the consistency with some of the cooking water reserved.

Taste, adjust seasoning with salt (you may not need it, both miso and soy sauce are salty), and serve cold, with crackers or carrot and celery sticks.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This is a very nice option of appetizer for a dinner party in which the main dish might be on the heavy side.  Your guests will appreciate the bright flavor, unless they are cilantro haters.   Those people are out there, believe me! 😉 One of my best friends in Brazil  (hello, Fabio!) hates cilantro so much that while traveling through  China a few years ago, he carried a sign in Mandarin with the words: “Please, no cilantro in my food”.   The herb flavor is very pronounced in this dip, so make sure and warn your guests, just in case…

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