Remember Z’hug? Last year I found this really cool recipe in FEAST Magazine—one of my local favorite publications. The author introduced us to this herbal, pungent and hot condiment called Z’hug, and I couldn’t wait to give it a go. The trouble was, it called for Thai Bird’s Eye chilies, which were nowhere in my farmers market. But I love to “make do” and challenge my culinary creativity, so I used what I had and came up with a pretty good version of Z’hug.
This year—thanks to Sasikumar Balasundaram—that’s my new friend Sasi from Sri Lanka—I’ve got those pretty little bird’s eyes! However, at this point, why go backwards? I decided to do a new version of Z’hug–AGAIN–and it turned out pretty tasty, I think. I used it to dress up fresh steamed broccoli and cooked quinoa, plus a few other choice ingredients to make a great vegan salad that spotlights those end-of-season herbs and the last heat of summer. It’s the perfect pack-it-and-go healthy dish for lunch at the office or a short hike in the autumn leaves. It just gets tastier and hotter with time.
- Two long stems of lemongrass, minced
- One-quarter cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- One-quarter cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Two tablespoons fresh mint leaves
- The zest and juice of one large or two small lemons
- Two tablespoons fresh grated ginger
- One tablespoon Mirin (Mirin is Japanese sweetened rice wine; if you can’t find it, you can use brown rice vinegar.)
- One tablespoon honey
- Two large cloves of garlic
- Four to five Thai Bird’s Eye chilies or three to four other medium-hot peppers such as serranoes or jalapeños
- One-quarter cup olive oil
- Four to five cups broccoli flowers and stems, lightly steamed
- One cup cooked white or red quinoa
- One-half cup dried fruit of choice such as raisins, cranberries, apricots or dates or a mixture
- One cup lightly toasted walnut pieces
- One-quarter cup raw sunflower seeds
- Coarse sea salt to taste
- Put all the Z'hug ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor and process on low until everything is finely minced. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil through the tube at the top in a steady small stream until the mixture emulsifies.
- Toss the warm broccoli and quinoa together. Add the Z'hug and toss well.
- Add the dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Toss. Salt to taste. Refrigerate at least one hour and up to 24 before serving to allow the favors to marry.
Note that you will want the broccoli and quinoa slightly warm as you add the dressing, which will allow them to absorb all the pungent flavors of the Zhug. While you could eat this dish right away, since it is so pungent, giving it a chance to settle and chill is preferred. The prep time includes cooking the broccoli—about 10 minutes—and the quinoa—about 20 minutes, assuming these would be done at the same time.
Once the basic salad was created, I started playing around with toppings, like fresh heirloom tomato slices, cucumber chunks and diced avocado. And what about fall apples?? Get creative and let us know how your version turned out.
Sasi and I have started sharing recipes, food and class time. We are both taking a class at the La Vista Ecological Learning Center—a place I’ve mentioned before when we visited La Vista Farm, located on the Center’s property in Godfrey, IL. La Vista is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to be. And in a future post I hope to talk about the class I’m taking and the very smart, kind and caring folks I’m learning from. The class is called A World of Health: Connecting People, Place, and Planet. Could I have picked a better topic? So more to come on that. But for now, I strongly encourage you to check out La Vista, if you live in my neck of the woods. If classes like this appeal to you, see The Northwest Earth Institute to review their entire series. It’s easy to set up a learning circle among your friends and family and order class materials. What a great place to share you Broccoli and Quinoa Salad with Green Gal Z’hug!