Back to school... the semester started again on Monday, along with other things to keep me busy, which is why I have neglected my blog this week. But for the next 6 weeks, I will be less busy than Andy, so it's time for me to take the cooking & cleaning responsibilities back on while he finishes his PhD! Here's an easy-pants dinner that is healthy and tasty (and which was alluded to in an earlier post, elliciting requests for a recipe).
Step 1: get a choko. Choose a nice firm one.
Put it in a bowl of water, or under running water, straight away. This will wash away the sap, or latex, or whatever it is that makes your hands sticky for days.
Put the chokoes into a steamer basket cut-side down, and steam them for about 15 minutes, flipping them over 2/3s of the way through the cooking time.
While the chokoes steam away, you can start to get your stuffing together. Crush up a healthy teaspoon of dried wakame seaweed. Mix this with about 2 teaspoons of nori flakes (or 2 teaspoons of cut up nori sheets -- kitchen scissors are easiest for cutting up nori!).
Cut a slice of bread or two into small pieces.
Grate a carrot.
Mix the seaweed, bread, and carrot in a bowl. Then add a teaspoon each of paprika, stock powder, and celery seeds. Alternatively, you can ditch the stock and use celery salt in it's place. Or use, you know, real celery. Put some kind of herb in, preferably fresh. In this batch, we added fresh thyme. Parsley and oregano also work well.
When your chokoes are cooked -- they should be only just tender, but still very firm (mushy chokoes are not so pleasant) -- let them cool. If you try to scoop the insides when they are hot, you will probably break the choko a bit, like I did here. That's okay - just not so pretty. When they have cooled off, scoop out the flesh with a spoon, being sure to leave a thick enough edge all the way around. As you scoop, some watery stuff will pool into the choko. Pour this into the stuffing bowl.
Chop up the choko flesh, and add it to the stuffing mix. Also add a splash of olive oil, and check your choko shells to see if they need to be drained off again. If you've got most of the liquid from the chokoes, the stuffing is probably wet enough. If not, add water, a teaspoon at a time, until it is just moist. Taste it, and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Put the stuffing into the choko shells.
Use your hands to pack the stuffing in tightly - you can really fill these up pretty full!
Put them in the oven -- they can go at pretty much any temperature, if you adjust the time accordingly. But if you want some guidance, try 180 (350F) for 20 to 30 minutes. The top of the stuffing should get crunchy, but the choko should still be tender and non-mushy.
Eat. Here, with sweet potatoes, seitand, and beetroot.
Altogether, you can put this dish together with ~10 minutes of hands-on time, and if you make the stuffing while the chokoes cook and/or cool, it can be a pretty efficient meal. And the stuffing recipe is really easy to vary, so it doesn't need to get boring -- though chokoes and seaweed are a very yummy combination, and seaweed is good for you, so this is our most common choko-stuffing recipe.