Top Moments of Chopped After Hours: Wheatgrass

Chopped judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag and Marc Murphy take on an entree basket of golden beets, etrog citron, wheatgrass and tempeh.

Episode: Wheatgrass Roots
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Chopped After Hours: Wheatgrass

While most baskets feature at least one beefy piece of meat or seafood, this collection of ingredients is strictly vegetarian. Host Aarón is on hand to watch his fellow judges, Amanda, Alex and Marc, transform these unusual picks into cohesive entrees.

Familiar Fare

While her peers aren't used to cooking with or eating vegetarian-minded ingredients, Amanda enjoys them regularly. She sets off to prepare a comforting stew complete with tempeh and curry, plus spiced couscous. "This is a really typical way to serve tempeh: stewed, really hearty, really warm," she explains.

Embracing the Unordinary

"I think it's really great to have an experience where people can see that we, as judges, whether we're cooking or eating these ingredients, we learn and grow from them, too," Alex tells Aarón of this unusual assortment of goods. She plans to treat the tempeh like rice, turning it into a risotto-like dish with beet butter and citrus.

LOL-Worthy

What has Amanda caught in a giggle fit? Despite the pressure of the Chopped Kitchen, she and her fellow judges make time for a few lighthearted laughs during the 30-minute challenge.

The Work of a Professional

"This is textbook sauteing," Aarón says of Alex's mixture of mushrooms and scallions. The vegetables boast a noticeable golden-brown color and have become slightly soft from the heat.

A New Experience

Marc isn't shy about admitting that this basket has him "a little stressed out," simply because, he says, "I don't cook with this stuff." To remedy that, he sticks to what he knows: a burger and potato chips. Instead of a traditional beef patty to make his burger, however, Marc uses beef broth-steeped tempeh.

Group Effort

Aarón drops by Amanda's station during cooking to lend a hand, crushing cloves of garlic for her with his bare palms.

Thinking Meaty

"I brought as much meat as I could into this dish," Marc says, abandoning the inherent vegetarianism of the basket. He's prepared a tempeh-based burger and topped it with wheatgrass aioli, cheese and bacon. "If I was judging this dish, I would say you were super creative," Amanda tells him. "I would say you hated the ingredient, but you found a way to make it tasty."

A Meatless Confession

At the tasting table, Amanda admits to being "a closet vegetarian" and says of her approach to the basket, "I just had fun with it because this is what I would want to eat." Marc, an unapologetic carnivore, tells her of her sunset-colored dish, "I have to say, I usually don't eat like this, and this is delicious."

Honest Reaction

Not one to hide her feelings, Alex admits after the battle, "This basket was awful." She may not be keen on the ingredients, but she indeed manages to turn them into a winning dish. "That tempeh is totally transformed," Amanda tells Alex of the latter's risotto-style saute featuring mushrooms, beet juice and citrus-saffron sauce.

Host-Approved

"These mystery basket ingredients, they seem very difficult, but they came together nicely," Aarón tells the judges after tasting each of their offerings. "I'm not crying for meat right now. You made satisfying meals that really sort of constituted a complete dish." He spares all three of the competitors from the chopping block, and together they celebrate a successful showing in the kitchen.

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