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Ever do this?  Or is it just moi?  Upon reaching the checkout area in a bustling grocery store, you quickly scan the registers for number of people in line, amount of goods in their cart and age of cashier?  On the weekends, in particular, you don’t want a teenage clerk ringing up your produce as everyone in line has at least one bottle of booze that requires someone of age to do the scanning. A teenager needs assistance in that situation and it will just slow you down.
As you are assessing your options, your neurons are firing away at rapid speed. Sweat begins to bead on your upper lip. You have to make a lightning fast decision and then move swiftly because you don’t want someone else to snag your spot in the lane that you have just determined to be the most expeditious.

Recently, my keen assessment skills let me down. I chose a line where we were just two customers shy from getting our edibles rung. It was looking good for us when suddenly and without warning the Millennial that was up at bat turned to the rest of us and made his apologies for purchasing what he deemed to be “unusual produce”.  The cashier was struggling to find their plu codes.  “Unusual”, as it turned out, were poblano peppers and shallots.  Unusual? Hmm…

As we stood for what seemed like an eternity, a thought began to creep into my brain. Good god, we had “fresh” lemongrass in our cart.  Stores in our area rarely carry this item. If they do have it in stock, it’s usually in the form of a two-inch piece packaged in a pint-sized plastic container. It was a stroke of good luck that we stumbled on full size stalks.
What were the odds that this would be a speedy scan?
I had a feeling we would be perched here awhile.
Uncork the red, I reflected, we’ll drink it here!

If you are lucky enough that you don’t have to set up camp when purchasing lemongrass, then this is the recipe for you. Not only is this dish delectable, it is also quick to put together and the glass noodles make it fun to eat.

You can opt to make this dish a soup by adding more broth. If you can’t find lemongrass, the juice and zest from a lemon is an option. If you choose spinach, add it just prior to serving.

The addition of lime as a topping is what makes this dish so delicious. It is an incomplete (and not as tasty) dish without it!


Serves 6-8


1 c sweet onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 ½ c carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 clove garlic, zested
1 tbsp ginger, zested
2-4 sticks lemongrass or juice from 1 lemon
8 c vegetable broth
4-8 oz mushrooms, type of your choosing, sliced thin
2 bulbs baby bok choy, chopped – or spinach
glass noodles, 3-5 oz
salt, to taste

Cut ends of lemongrass. Peal outer layer. Cut lemongrass stalks in half. Cover with cloth and lightly hammer stalks. This releases some of its flavor.  Bundle together in strip of cheesecloth or kitchen twine. Set aside.
Heat a large pot on high. Add enough water to coat bottom. Add sweet onion and jalapeño. Reduce heat to medium. Sweat for 3-5 minutes. Add water as necessary to keep ingredients sweating.
Add garlic and ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add broth and lemongrass.  Simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
Add carrots. Cook for 30 minutes.
Add mushrooms. Cook about 10 minutes.
While mushrooms are cooking prepare glass noodles according to package directions. Once submerged into boiling water, they should be ready in six minutes.  Drain.  Set aside.
Add bok choy. Cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
Season with sea salt.
Place noodles in bowl. Add broth and vegetables, amount to your liking. Top with scallions, cilantro and lime.

What do you consider to be unusual produce?  Please leave a comment…