August 09, 2010

Long beans | Eggy tofu on toast | Orange-mango smoothie

Madison has a fantastic, award-winning farmers market that covers both sides of the four long stretches of sidewalk that circumnavigates the State Capitol grounds. When our kids were young, it was a Saturday morning ritual for our family to trek to the market by 8:30 a.m. to avoid the huge crowds of the later morning, and buy veggies. We always ran into people we knew, and the excursion was as much a social as a shopping venture. After the market we'd head to the Civic Center for a free Kids in the Crossroads theater performance.

The market has only increased in popularity over the years, and now it seems even 7 a.m. is too late to avoid the masses. So we now shop at one of the many smaller markets that have sprung up all over the city. The west-side market we frequent is in a parking lot, but what it lacks in scenic charm is made up for with convenience and great vendors, many of whom sell organic produce. We were at the market on Saturday when I saw something I'd not seen before at the market.

Madison is home to a large population of Hmong families, and many of these transplanted citizens have continued their family heritage of farming, selling their wares at local markets. In addition to typical veggies familiar to Mid-Westerners, they often sell more unusual Asian vegetables, and as we walked along the row of market stalls, I excitedly rushed up to one that had bunches of long beans. The smiling vendor asked if I'd ever had them, and I said yes, but I'd never seen them at the market before. He laughed, and said that's because most people wouldn't know what they were! I bought a big bunch for dinner. As we walked the rest of the market I found Yellow Finn potatoes, and Anaheim peppers that drew me in with their fragrance. I started cooking a dish in my head, and really looking forward to dinner. My resulting long bean dish is not authentic Asian fair, but a yummy concoction of what I felt like eating, with Asian influences. You could make this with regular green beans if you're not lucky enough to find long beans at your local Asian market. When cooked, long beans are a little chewier and firmer than green beans, but still tender.

Long beans with tofu, potatoes and peppers
  • 1/2 of a 14 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, sliced into small slabs
  • 2 med. yellow potatoes, 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium veg. broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • oil (1 tablespoon or less)
  • 1 bunch long beans, ends removed, chopped into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 green Anaheim pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons Sambal Oelek, or red curry paste
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon natural sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • crushed roasted peanuts
  1. Place the potatoes and stock in a large wok. Lay the tofu on top of the potatoes. Cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender but still firm. Remove to a plate, scraping out all the stuck on bits with a spatula. (The stock will have evaporated.)
  2. In a small amount of oil, cook the garlic in the wok. When it starts to turn golden, add the beans and pepper, and stir-fry a few minutes until the beans are crisp-tender.
  3. Add the potatoes and tofu, tomatoes, sambal, soy sauce and sugar, and stir-fry a minute or two until the tomatoes are hot. Check seasonings.
  4. Mix in the lime juice and place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with peanuts.
  5. If desired, pass small bowls of chopped cilantro, chopped parsley and extra peanuts at the table.
lunch, the next day with additional tomatoes and hot sauce


The green Owl revisited

Angel food cake: photo by Betsy Haynes

In the short time we've been visiting Madison, we've been to The Green Owl four times! Yes, we like it there, but it's also the only vegetarian/vegan restaurant in town, and everyone wants to go there with us, because, you know, we're vegan. Every time we go we try something different, and this was the case last week when we went for our third visit.

Macro plate: photo by Betsy Haynes
I was feeling kind of overfed, from all the eating out we've been doing, and wanted a simple meal, so I chose the Basics Plate, a macrobiotic supper of kidney beans, brown rice, and steamed kale topped with lemon-miso-tahini sauce. It was just what I wanted and I really enjoyed it.

Lava cake: photo by Betsy Haynes
But then I was tempted by dessert. My friend Betsy ordered the vegan angel food cake with raspberry sauce, and I got chocolate lava cake. The vegan angel food cake falls into the "how did they DO that?" category for its uncanny resemblance to regular angel food cake. My dessert was yummy but not so startling as the cake. I would love to have the recipe for the angel food cake, just so I could see what was in it! READ ON.

GUESS WHAT: Sadly, the angel food cake eaten by my vegetarian (but not vegan) friend wasn't vegan after all. Well that explains why it was so real, and also lets me off the hook trying to reproduce it. I received a very apologetic note from Jenny Capellaro, the Green Owl's owner, who was very upset that we had somehow gotten the impression that the cake was vegan. She really intends that people avoiding all animal products can feel safe eating in her restaurant.


What else are we eating?

I was tempted to make vegan fried eggs, à la Zoa, for dinner, but realized that with the limited "vacation pantry" we're working with, that wasn't possible. I don't have vegan mayo or Earth Balance, nor do I have a food processor. So I opted for just the "white" of the egg, made from plain sauteed tofu finished with Indian black salt (kala namak). I placed it over avocado on lightly-toasted sourdough bread. It tasted so much like egg, with the richness of the avocado subbing for the yolk, it was kind of freaky. With the addition of steamed broccoli from the farmers market, and a cucumber and tomato salad, it made a satisfying light supper for a hot evening.

Thanks to our recent tenant, our garden is bursting with tomatoes, and there's parsley and basil growing in pots on the deck. My husband jokes that everything we make has to have tomatoes, so I made a salad with sweet English cukes from the farmers market and tons of yellow and red cherry tomatoes from the garden, plus parsley and basil. The veggies are so fresh and flavorful they need only the tiniest bit of simple dressing.


  1. The long bean dish looks great...and very healthful! I'd like to try it sometime. Thanks for sharing, Andrea.

  2. The long bean dish looks delicious! I haven't gone to the farmer's market much this year (it's kind of far since I moved), but I was there a lot last year and it was always SO busy early in the morning. It was always worth it though.

  3. The long bean and tofu looks amazing. How do you think a yam or sweet potato will be in place of the white potato?

  4. Aimee,
    You're welcome. It's fun to try unusual ingredients. Will you miss particular ingredients when you leave Hawaii?

    When I used to go to the downtown market I'd find myself moving through the crowd like a zombie, never getting close enough to the stalls to buy anything! I'm not a big fan of crowds. The smaller markets are great.

    I think if you're a fan of yams it would be great. You might need to balance the sweetness a bit.

  5. I found some long green beans at our farmers market about a month ago. I made a stir fry with mine also. I haven't seen them since that one time though. They were so good. All your foods look so delicious!

  6. I just came across your blog and I love it! Your food looks amazing and I am glad to see another fellow vegan from Seattle, too =)

  7. The main Minneapolis market here is the same way...if I get there by 7 it is already mobbed and a crazy chaotic zoo! But I go every weekend cuz I love it so :-)

    And I love long beans! The Hmong vendors at the market here have them too, and I can't wait to pick up a bunch this weekend and try your recipe...if it cools down a bit by then, that is. It looks delicious! If it doesn't cool down I will have to copy your cucumber tomato have my mouth watering!


  8. I've seen those long beans around, but have never tried them, the dishes you made with them look delish...leftovers included.

    I'm still drooling over those desserts!

  9. Your eggs work for me! That black salt/tofu mix really *is* freaky, whatever you use for the yolk. My aunt Katee, a big fan of your blog, saw the long beans and bought some for me today at a market near her place--I've never tried them but am looking forward to experimenting. They'll be the first green or yellow beans I've had all summer, mmm.

  10. Michelle,
    The long beans seem to have a richer, beanier taste than regular green beans. I'm going to look for them again this week.

    Thanks for leaving a comment and telling me you live in Seattle! It's nice to "meet" other vegan bloggers from the area.

    I turn into a zombie if the market is too crowded, and just wander around the square without buying anything! When I go to the downtown market it's just for fun, not food.
    Better get some cukes and tomatoes because I don't think it's going to cool down any time soon. :(

    I'm still wondering about that angel food cake. How did they make it look and taste like it was made with a dozen egg whites?

  11. cooool! i've never eaten yard long beans before--in fact the first time i saw them was this season in seed catalogues. they're fascinating, i have to try growing some next year. good to know about the they taste basically the same as regular green beans?

  12. Zoa,
    Regards to Katee! I can't wait to see what you do with the beans — maybe something more traditional ... but i doubt it. :D

    The taste is similar, but different, in a more bean-y sort of way. The texture is a little different, too, both crisp and tender at the same time.

  13. I really love asian food but I always have to cook it at home as i'm yet to find a restaurant or takeaway that serves anything that is gluten-free. It's not all bad though as we virtually live off stir-fries with chinese-5 spice!

    Oh, and I can't believe how long those green beans are! :)

  14. I love long beans - have you tried keeping some of their length in dishes? It's a fun way to eat them. Enjoy your tomato crop! Ours went bust.

  15. I always enjoy long green beans at my favorite Thai restaurant, but I'm never adventurous enough to cook with them when I see them at the Asian market. Next time!

    Meanwhile, I've got to get some black salt; my Daiya is crying out to be part of an "eggie & cheese" sandwich!

  16. I thought those were just green beans! But long... I'm so envious of you having that market and ORGANIC veg to choose from!
    I often like mashed avocado on toast as a substitute for scrambled egg on toast. And I must get hold of some blck salt...

  17. Sarah,
    I love Asian cuisine, too, but I'm always worried about fish sauce, salt and fat, making it hard to enjoy restaurant food. Adding gluten-free to the mix would surely complicate things dramatically. Fortunately, more and more restaurants are becoming sensitive to the needs of gluten-free diners, though I suppose this would be mostly in larger cities.
    Lucky you're such a good cook!

    This was the first time I cooked long beans, though I've had them several times at my son's house. He always cuts them into small pieces. They're so long and floppy I thought cutting them would make cooking easier, but I might try them a little longer next time.

    They were easy — you should get some.

    I can see the possibilities for creating an egg&cheese sandwich. Make it on a toasted sesame bagel for extra charm!

    The farmers markets are pretty great. The long beans didn't come from one of the organic stands but I wanted them anyway.

    If you get black salt, use it sparingly — it's very sulfuric! When you put it on fried tofu, it tastes just like egg.

  18. I've never had long beans before, but they sure are pretty looking! Sorry to hear about the angel food cake. That's always a bummer.

  19. Monique,
    At least I didn't eat the cake!


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