Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ten Days of CSA: Day 2, Vegetable Beef Stir Fry

I guess yesterday, when instead I talked about accents and Trainspotting and Flight of the Conchords, I should have given some sort of explanation for the "Ten Days of CSA" in the title of the post. Not that "Ten Days of CSA" is terribly confusing - you probably figured I was going to post recipes using my CSA vegetables for ten days, because you are a genius. So, I suppose all I need to add is my motivation: ten days in a row of posting is sort of a goal for me, as is ten days in a row of actually using my CSA vegetables, which at this point in the summer (or autumn, it seems) are driving me mad and ending up in the garbage more often than I'd like to admit. (Because, seriously, how many cucumbers can you eat in one week? NOT EIGHT.) Putting a public commitment out there is about as strong a motivation as I can create for myself these days, so I boldly wrote that into the title at the last second, a promise to you and a promise to myself and a promise to my poor rotting vegetables. Aren't we all lucky?

Hey, you know what makes vegetables taste even better than vegetables?



We eat red meat (by which I mean meat from a cow) about once every two weeks in this household, if that. That's why there aren't many meat recipes on this blog. (In fact, until today, there has been one. (CORRECTION, 9/14/10: two.)) I don't love meat, but I appreciate it every now and then, and I think when I make it my husband likes me a little more. (But, actually, as I recall, my husband made this dish. I just told him what to do. He is v. good at executing. And I think he still liked me more once it was made because it was super yummy and because I had done a good deed by simply buying the meat and finding the recipe and *BONUS* it used up a lot of veggies.)

Before we get to the recipe, let's talk about one of the vegetables I used: kohlrabi. I'd never heard of kohlrabi before I lived in Minnesota and was a member of a CSA farm. In fact, the first time a kohlrabi arrived in our big brown box, I thought it was a decorative item, like a gourd.

Maybe you are similarly unfamiliar with the kohlrabi plant. Well, allow me to introduce you.


"Hi. I'm kohlrabi. I look like sputnik, can be green or purple, and my flesh is like a crunchy jicama, but less sweet."

Now you say, "Hi, kohlrabi. I'm [insert name]. Nice to meet you."

Some people like to peel kohlrabi (see above) and eat it raw, plain, sliced, like a celery stick. It's also a nice addition to a crudite platter. I tend to throw it in anything that calls for radish or carrot, like my sweet potato tacos. It's just crunchy and uncomplicated. Not a super strong flavor, but refreshing and earthy at the same time. My world got better once I met kohlrabi.

But when you get TONS of kohlrabi, you can only eat so many raw. (Like cucumbers!) So I've started to throw it into soups, casseroles, and this here stir-fry, with great success.

"Did I mention I'm versatile?"

beef marinating

stir fry vegetables

plated stir fry

As a final word before we get to the actual recipe, let me just say that this is a perfect, malleable, quick weeknight meal. Substitute chicken or tofu for the beef. Throw in some frozen stir-fry vegetables if you don't have a CSA or garden overflowing with summer squash, eggplant, and kohlrabi. (But if you do that, only cook them for a couple minutes.) Crank up the spice by throwing in some Sriracha or more red pepper flakes at the end. This is just a full-proof stir-fry. I think you're going to like it, especially when you're eating 30 minutes after you started cooking and you realize you only have one pan to clean once you're finished.

Vegetable Beef Stir-Fry
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 pounds flank steak, cut diagonally across the grain into 1/2-inch-by-3-inch strips
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds mixed fresh vegetables, chopped into 1" pieces (I used 1 kohlrabi + 2 summer squash)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix soy sauce, apple juice, vinegar, honey or maple syrup, garlic, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Add meat; toss to coat. Let marinate for 15 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate; reserve marinade.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook meat until lightly browned, turning once, about 2 minutes per batch. Remove meat. Add 1/2 cup water to pan; stir up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into marinade; whisk in cornstarch.

In same skillet, saute vegetables in remaining teaspoon of oil over high heat until bright in color and al dente, tossing often, 2-5 minutes, depending on your combination of vegetables. Add 1/4 cup water and cook for 2 more minutes or so, until vegetables are slightly soft.

Give the marinade a good stir, add to pan with red pepper flakes, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 30 seconds. Return meat to pan; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, over rice or noodles.

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