Tekoa Farms, growers of exotic fruit and vegetables, mushrooms, berries and ginger, recently started marketing fresh lemongrass. The plant, known for its medicinal benefits, adds a fresh lemony flavor to food and beverages alike.
To cook with it, especially in Asian recipes, you have to remove the first layer of leaves and cut away the hard bottom and slice very thinly. But often, lemongrass is used for flavoring only and is discarded after cooking. In that case, you need to bruise the stalk by crushing it with a rolling pin or the handle of a heavy knife, and then cut it into large pieces that will be removed and discarded after cooking.
For more information, go to www.tekoa farms.co.il.
Although spring is almost here, colds and the flu are still with us. To help relieve the symptoms, try this lemongrass and ginger infusion.
Crush the lemongrass stalk to release the essential oils. Place the crushed stalk in a tall glass, add a few slices of fresh ginger and your favorite sweetener (honey is best). Fill with hot water. Let steep for 5 minutes and drink.
Hint: Double the amounts and keep the drink in a thermos to sip throughout the day.
SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH LEMONGRASS
The rich soup gets an upgrade by using fresh lemongrass.
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ ½ kg. sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
✔ 1 large onion, chopped
✔ 4 celery roots, peeled
✔ 2 lemongrass stalks, halved and crushed
✔ ½ tsp. lemon zest
✔ 1 garlic clove, sliced
✔ ½ tsp. fresh ginger, grated
✔ 5 cups water
✔ ½ cup coconut water
✔ Thyme, for garnish
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger, crushed lemongrass and lemon zest. Mix and sauté until onions are transparent. Add sweet potatoes and water, and turn up heat to maximum. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are cooked. Turn off heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Remove the lemongrass from the pot and discard. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve: Reheat soup and garnish with thyme leaves.
LEMONGRASS FRUIT SALAD
Prepare a lemony syrup for seasonal fruit salad.
For the fruit salad:
✔ 1½ kg. fresh fruit, diced For the syrup:
✔ ½ cup lemon juice
✔ ¼ cup brown sugar
✔ 1 stalk lemongrass
✔ 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
✔ 1 stick vanilla, sliced lengthwise
✔ ½ cup water Learn to use fresh lemongrass
In a small pot over low heat, cook sugar, lemon juice and water until sugar dissolves.
Crush the lemongrass stalks using the handle of a large knife or a rolling pin. This will release the essential oils of the plant. Cut the lemongrass to fit into the pot. Add the lemongrass, ginger and vanilla to the syrup and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes, letting it simmer until the liquid is reduced.
Strain the syrup and keep refrigerated until you need it.
To serve: Prepare fruit salad. Divide among serving dishes and pour a little syrup into each serving. Garnish with mint leaves.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Tekoa Farms.