This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm, Fair Valley Farm, and Tiger Lily Art Company:
pepperoncini, poblanos, red hot cherries, anaheim chiles, and assorted pepper bargain bags
fresh herbs including dill, parsley, basil, and cilantro (garnish these lettuce wraps)
bietola, kale, chard, and a variety of lettuces (make these lettuce wraps)
In anticipation of the start of the 4J School District school year next Tuesday (all paltry 166 days of it) I've been trying to remember some of the family's favorite quick weeknight meals. One new one to add to the rotation came from my continued experimentation with cutting celery. In Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, I read that cutting celery resembles Chinese celery, which is often paired with beef, as in her Sichuanese "send-the-rice-down" chopped celery and ground beef recipe. I tried this combination with some of our ground beef from our Fair Valley Farm CSA. To make it kid-friendly, I kept out the chili bean paste, and to make it even kid-friendlier, serves it as filling for lettuce wraps with fun toppings including crushed peanuts (for the kids) and diced red hot cherry bomb peppers (for the adults). Because it was a leisurely summer evening, I also cooked up some of Dunlap's Sichuanese dry-fried green beans and her smoky eggplant with garlic (more on this later), but the celery beef wraps, with plenty of toppings, would make a satisfying and quick meal on their own. I'm always glad that we can ease into the new school year at the height of the harvest season, when the abundance of fresh produce lightens the burdens of fixing quick dinners and filling up lunch boxes.
Celery Beef Lettuce Wrapscelery beef (adapted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking)
1/2 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp grape seed oil
1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper corns
1 bunch cutting celery, or substitute 4 regular celery stalks and leaves, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp Sichuan chili bean paste (I omitted for a kid-friendly version)
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp black Chinese vinegar
iceberg or butter lettuce leaves
diced spicy pepper (such as a red hot cherry pepper)
ground Sichuan pepper corns
roasted peanuts, chopped
finely diced lime (with the skin)
To make the celery beef, prepare all of your ingredients and have them on hand. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the ground beef and stir fry until it is cooked through. Add the chili bean paste and continue to cook until the oil has reddened. Add the ginger, stir fry for a few more moments, and then add the celery. Stir fry until the celery just turns a darker green color, then season with soy sauce and vinegar and remove from the heat.
To serve, pass around lettuce leaves. Everyone can scoop on their desired amount of cooked rice and celery beef, and sprinkle over their favorite combination of toppings.