Tag Archives: jalapeno

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry
This particular version highlights eggplant, asparagus, bell pepper, and spinach

Rarely a week goes by without a simmering pot of curry. This is my stand-by no-fail recipe, with infinite possibilities of vegetables, protein, and spicy level. The basic components are: tomato based curry sauce, meaty eggplant simmered in the sauce, greens for the eggplant to rest between, and a wide assortment of vegetables – whatever you have on hand that day and/or need to use before they go bad. The veggie selection is easily changed to reflect the season/mood. Sick and tired of cauliflower and squash in March? Then throw in some greenery, peppers, and cute cherry tomatoes. Super stoked that it’s squash season in September? Butternut squash, spinach, peppers, and eggplant is a combination that cannot be beat! If you like, you can throw in your choice of protein – lentils, chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh have all been winners in the past. Spice level can be adjusted to taste preference, and the recipe is easily scaled back or quadrupled depending on how many mouths you are feeding that day. This is my Indian “chili”. Always delicious, always a winner.

The recipe is more of a guideline, developed over the years by throwing things in the pot and trying to remember what tasted the best. Take these guidelines and make them your own – tweak as you like, and enjoy your efforts!

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece fresh ginger, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (if you like the spice, don’t seed the peppers!)
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt, to taste
4 cups of your ‘meaty’ veggies: eggplant, squash, potato, etc.
4 cups diced tomatoes, or 1 (28oz.) canned tomatoes (Note: Whole canned tomatoes are also nice – rip them apart with your hands when you add them to the curry)
4 cups water
2 cup of your ‘crunch’ veggies: asparagus, bell pepper, snap peas, green beans, …
~10 cups fresh greens: spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, or kale
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot, heat olive oil and add mustard seeds. Sauté until seeds start to pop – cover pot with a lid to prevent seeds from escaping!
2) Add onion. Sauté until translucent and beginning to brown, ~7min. If pan looks dry, add a splash of water.
3) Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sauté ~1min.
4) Add the spices. Stir to coat and lightly toast.
5) Add the ‘meaty’ veggies. Stir to coat with spices and lightly sear.
6) Add the tomatoes, water, and ‘crunch’ veggies. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and partially cover, simmering ~5min.
7) Add the greens in handfuls, stirring as you go. Cook until greens are bright green and wilted. (If you are adding cherry tomatoes, add them at this point).
8) Turn off heat, and add cayenne pepper. Adjust all other seasonings to taste.
9) Serve hot with rice, and/or your favourite Indian flat bread.


Red Posole Vegetable Chili

Red Posole Chili

I have an addiction to buying dried beans. The stranger they look the better. Of course I have my staples: lentils (green and red), chickpeas, black eyed peas, black beans, and mung beans to name a few. This chili was born upon the realization that I just purchased El Salvadorian Red Beans and I needed to use them. Now. I vaguely recalled a recipe called “Red Beans and Rice” in Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, but I wasn’t feeling the rice and bean vibe. When I was closing the book, it naturally fell open to a recipe called “Quick Red Posole”, which looked slightly more promising. But by this time other beans in the arsenal were calling my name, so the Red Posole was bookmarked for another day. But this quick flip through got the creative juices flowing, and with a quick inventory in my fridge this fiery Red Posole Vegetable Chili was born!

The mixture of beans is totally up to your discretion: add more variety or less – it’s up to you! The vegetables are also infinitely adaptable, making this the perfect on-a-whim I-need-chili-NOW recipe. This first variation used leftover mushrooms for chewiness and bell pepper, zucchini, and spinach for colour. I roasted the dried chilis old school: dry toast them in a pan on your stove, pressing down with a spatula. Turn over when they start to blacken (or smoke), and remove from heat quickly. The whole process takes less than 2 min., and the roasted dried chilis add such depth to the chili it would be remiss without. However, if this sounds like a recipe for disaster, by all means you can skip this step for the safety of your kitchen! This chili was absolutely delicious, and tasted even better as leftovers. So without further ado, I present to you Yet Another Chili recipe!

 

Red Posole Vegetable Chili

½ cup dried black beans (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried black eyed peas (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried red beans (1½ cups cooked)
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. garlic, minced
¾ cup onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 dried ancho chilis, roasted and chopped
1½ cup bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1¾ cup zucchini, cut into ½” half moons
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
3 ½ cup tomatoes, diced OR 1 (32oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Directions:
1) If required, cook beans
2) In large pot, sauté garlic in oil on medium-high until brown, ~30s.
3) Add onions. Saute until soft, ~3-4min.
4) Add jalapenos, roasted dried chilis, and bell pepper. Saute until soft,~3min.
5) Add mushrooms, zucchini, and spices. Stir. Add ~2 cups water and cook until zucchini slightly soft, ~5min.
6) Add cooked beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and 4 cups water. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook ~35 min, stirring occasionally.
7) Add spinach in batches; stir and cook until bright green and wilted.
8) Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne (to taste). Stir.
9) Turn off heat and let sit ~5 min. before serving to let the flavours meld.


Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Chili

Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Chili

 (Apologies for the poor picture: I am in the process of moving across the country and only had capabilities for the point-and-shoot no-edit)

The title says it all. Brussels sprouts and sweet potato meet together in a fiery hot chili that has been the side dish for more than one festive meal. Brussels sprouts generally have a bad reputation – I did not have my first sprout until my late 20’s, on account of family ‘brussels sprout issues’. Perhaps I wouldn’t like them so much if I was force-fed them growing up (like tomato soup), but these little vegetables are cute versions of cabbage and taste faintly of broccoli. As an extra bonus, they hold their shape in soups and stews, so you have something firm to chew on instead of wilted leaves or random specks of broccoli florets. They are especially decadent shaved thin and roasted until very brown (some would say burnt); every bushel of brussels sprouts that make it to my kitchen have at least one dish prepared this way! But not everybody has been charmed by these cute little cabbages, so to bring them over to the dark side I present to you this chili.

This chili is a warm, hearty stew that is quick to throw together and disappears just as fast. Pinto beans add some protein, however navy beans or chickpeas are also fantastic. Sweet potatoes (always good in a chili!) are the bulk of the dish, and pair well with the tomatoes and chili powder. The brussels sprouts add some colour, a different texture, and a broccoli/cabbage feel to the chili. Brussels haters won’t even know that they are there! In fact, the last time I made this dish for the family, the self-diagnosed ‘brussels sprouts issues’ individuals first tentative spoonful came with an eye roll and a “clearly I’m humouring you” attitude, then proceeded to lick the bowl clean. And then go for seconds, thirds … one small step for the mighty Brussels Sprout!

This recipe is from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Although an excellent cookbook that is a solid standby for quick weeknight dinners, Isa has also posted the recipe for this dish on her website, the PPK. You can find the recipe here: Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts. 

*Substitution note: As I never have chipotles hanging about, I substitute normal jalapenos. For chipotle smokiness, a drop or two of liquid smoke may get you the same effect, but I have never tried it.

Embrace the Brussels Sprout! Chili for a holiday meal? Why not, I say! It’s a wonderful change to the maple sugared toothache-inducing ‘traditional’ preparation of both the sweet potato and brussels sprout. The taste will win over even the staunchest brussels sprouts “haters” – a perfect excuse to make more!


Butternut Squash Latin Salad

This simple salad was an accompaniment to my most recent variation of my Ultimate Veggie Burgers: Butternut, Beet, Buckwheat, and Black-Eyed Pea burgers. An absolutely delicious combination hearty burger that carries both Sriracha and hummus toppings with aplomb. The downside to the burgers was that I had overestimated the grated squash required, and thus had a whole mountain left over. So what is one to do other than create a crunchy salad?

The inspiration for this salad was the Thai Mango Salad, which was surprisingly delicious when mango was grated. If it would work for mango, why not butternut squash? I realize my line of thought is often not linear, but my creativity/desperation often benefits from my wacky associations. There isn’t really a recipe for this salad, as it was born out of desperation and a finite amount of grated butternut squash. But the salad guidelines are as follows:

– Grated butternut squash (I used my food processor as I had a lot from the burgers, but a handheld grater would also work. Grating butternut squash is the easiest thing you will ever do – even easier than carrots!)
– 1-2 tomatoes, diced
– ½ of a green bell pepper, diced
– 1-2 green onions, chopped
– 1-3 jalapenos, depending on personal preference
– 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
– dash of cayenne, cumin, and chili powder
– sprinkle of red pepper flakes
– salt/pepper to taste
– cilantro for garnish

Directions:
1) To grate butternut squash: Slice in half the slice again in 2″ strips. Peel the strips with a vegetable peeler, or cut the rind off. Proceed to grate the squash with your preferred method: food processor, manual, or if desperate julienned squash would work as well!
2) Toss all vegetables in a bowl.
3) Season with lime juice and all other seasonings.
4) For best flavour, loosely cover with saran wrap and let sit in fridge for 1h before serving.

As with most coleslaw salads, this recipe only improves with age. Bright, fresh, and crunchy it adds zing to whatever meal you desire! I ate it as a side for lunch and dinner, and even served it with some cooked quinoa for breakfast. Embrace the raw squash – it’s delicious!


Yam and Black Bean Soup with Orange and Cilantro

Bright and zesty, this black bean soup is deliciously different!

I am forever looking for variations of Black Bean Soup, that “little black dress” soup that can be comforting or exotic. Virtually every cuisine type has a version of a black bean soup, which I find fascinating from an anthropology standpoint. This particular version was made because I could not decide between the classic black bean soup and a version of black bean hash for dinner one day. So I turned to the cookbook shelf for inspiration, and found this Yam and Black Bean Soup in Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Perfect!

Like all recipes in Appetite for Reduction, this stew is very simple to put together, and extremely tasty. I was a bit skeptical reading the list of ingredients – I tend to like recipes that read like novels, heavy on the spices. I also have an aversion to fruit in savoury dishes (pineapple on pizza? Ick.) and the addition of orange juice tested my resolve to stick with this stew and not revert back to the black bean hash. But this soup is absolutely delicious! Strangely enough, you can’t taste the orange, but instead it makes the soup (especially the sweet potatoes) taste ‘bright’. Zingy. It acts more like lime or lemon juice here, and was surprisingly delicious. The ingredient list may be short, but it packs a punch. The longer the soup sits, the more it thickens, making your second bowl more stew-like and extremely concentrated in flavour. The leftovers froze wonderfully, and reheated even better than when first made. When I reheated the soup, at the end I would throw in some greens (spinach, kale, chard, whatever was on hand) for some additional colour and extra level of deliciousness.

The recipe can be found here: Yam and Black Bean Soup. So next time you have a spare sweet potato in your fridge and a burning desire to eat some black beans, add to your black bean soup arsenal and give this exotic soup a try!


Million Ingredient Chili

The most delicious “standard” comfort chili around!

Really … the title says it all! The heat wave had broken it was a cloudy, rainy, lazy Sunday, and I celebrated by making a huge vat of chili. Not just any standard vat of chili – but a 12 quart vat of slow cooked chili comfort. Chili is one of those freezer staples that is like putting on your favourite ratty sweatshirt and sweats after a no-good-rotten day. With nothing else to do, I decided to challenge myself and make the Best Chili Ever. Whenever Top Chef has their chili challenges all the chefs’ whine about how chili is an all-nighter and it needs constant attention, so I looked for the most involved, complex, slow-cook recipe I could find while still being able to make it in time for dinner. And I found this recipe with a Million Ingredients (or close to), and I have found my comfort chili recipe.

Compliments of Kathy of Healthy. Happy. Life., this chili won her a chili cook-off. It is everything a standard, non-fusion chili should be. Tons of beans for stick-to-your-ribs goodness, mushrooms for a nice toothy-meaty texture, and a sauce that is half roasted, half simmered, with dark molasses lending a nice rich colour. Half the veggies are tossed in oil, spices, and roasted to add depth. The other half compose of a “Veggie Pot Roast” which is first simmered in a tangy molasses-based sauce and then roasted. The tomato base is simmered throughout the process, and everything is dumped into the one pot and simmered for at least one hour and however much longer you can resist the delicious aroma! All of these steps generate a lot of dishes, but with a lot of downtime in between by dinner you could even have a dishes-free cleanup if you use your time wisely. The end result is a delicious affair that could be served with rice or cornbread, but why waste valuable stomach real estate when you could dig into another bowl? It freezes and reheats exceptionally well, and for a quick lunch serving a bowl of chili on top of a pile of greens cannot be beat. So next time you find yourself having an Eeyore day, make this chili and a smile will be on your face by dinner!

The recipe can be found on Kathy’s webpage Healthy.Happy.Life here: Roasted Vegetable Chili

I made the following changes, due to last-minute planning and pantry constraints:

Part A: Roasted Veggies: I omitted the agave, as I am still not sold on sweet in savoury. Do not skip the cherry tomatoes! Putting these into the chili gave a tomato-duo combination at the end that is as unique as it is delicious.

Part B: Veggie Pot Roast: I used olive oil instead of butter, and used 6 dried shitake mushrooms (reconstituted) instead of the sausage. Personally I thought the meatiness of the sliced reconstituted shitake mushrooms matched the beans better than sausage, but this may be a departure from ‘classic’ chili. I like a toothsome quality to chili. I also used 3 jalapenos instead of the chipotle peppers in adobo, as that is not a pantry staple. Finally, I omitted the corn (personal preference).

Part C:  Tomato Base: Again, more jalapenos instead of chipotle peppers in adobo. This may have made my chili less smoky and more ‘clean’ spicy, but I thought it was still delicious! In an attempt to compensate I threw in a dash of liquid smoke near the end. For the bean mixture I used a mixture of pinto beans, black beans, fava beans, and chickpeas. The more beans the better! After all, you do control the chili pot.

Do not be intimidated by the million ingredient list. The best part of chili is that at the end of the day you can clean out your fridge and use whatever beans you have and it will still be delicious comfort food. The method just seems complex, but there is a lot of down time. Due to pot restrictions (I own one) I had to do the recipe in steps instead of all at once, but this allowed me to prep the next step while the last one was cooking, so it seemed like no time at all! This also helped with dishes control (ups to the dishwasherless!)

Enjoy!


Green Posole with Corn Tortillas

Green Posole Stew served with homemade corn tortillas, avocado, and sliced radish

Posole is a slow-cook Mexican stew, similar to a chili. This particular stew is a hodgepodge of interesting flavours and textures ensuring that every delectable bite is a new and interesting flavour profile. This was my first experience with tomatillos and hominy, with varying degrees of success. Tomatillos are like gift wrapped green tomatoes, with a papery husk that you have to peel away before washing. Their skin is sticky, almost soapy when wet, making washing essential. In this recipe the tomatillos are first boiled until they lose some of their bright green colour and start to float like bobbing for apples, then quenched, then pureed in the food processor with onions, roasted jalapenos, and fresh herbs, making a delicious roasted sauce. At this point I couldn’t resist a taste, and their flavour is very different from normal tomatoes – delicious in their own right. I will definitely be using them in the future, perhaps in a roasted tomatillo salsa.

I first heard of hominy on the Food Network when a chef on either Top Chef or Chopped was making their version of “hominy and grits”. I have had grits before (never again!) but hominy … I tracked some down to discover it appears to be corn kernels that have been treated with lime somehow. Out of the can they don’t taste like anything, but in the stew they add a nice texture similar to a bean. My final verdict on hominy is that it’s an interesting ingredient, but not something I will be obsessed with (like jackfruit!).

Now onto the stew … This stew is a recipe from Viva Vegan! (page 137) and has many steps if you don’t have pre-made seitan on hand (which I didn’t). The seitan is the “white seitan” recipe (page 35), meant to replace chicken or pork. I am not a big lover of seitan as I find it too chewy, but I put it in the stew anyway. It was the only disappointing component, only because even though the stew is delicious, I still wasn’t a big fan of seitan. The next time I make this stew (and there will be a next time!) I will substitute the seitan for some tofu or tempeh, both of which I think would soak up the flavours of the delicious broth and add that extra bit of protein. The broth itself is an interesting kitchen adventure. First you roast some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) then grind them in the food processor. This both thickens the broth but also adds an unexpected layer of flavour that I could not get enough of. Then you add this mixture to the pureed tomatillos, resulting in a complex, delicious, and addictive stew base. The oddest combinations often work and this is no exception! The stew itself is then just composed of whatever greens you have on hand, beans, hominy, and the seitan. Delectable, delicious, and when served with homemade tortillas and avocado I wish it was a never-ending soup pot! It is one of the most interesting stews you will ever try, and worth the multiple steps!

The recipe can be found here on the Google Book Preview: Green Posole Seitan Stew with Chard and White Beans. However, if any of my recent posts haven’t convinced you yet (Pupusas, Curdito, and Simple Tomato Sauce; Sweet and Nutty Stuffed Plantains), this stew should be the tipping point for checking the book out at the library!

A note about Homemade Corn Tortillas:

I made my own corn tortillas to serve with this recipe, expanding my flatbread repertoire. Tortillas  as it turns out are very easy to make and super quick – I am not the fastest cook in the kitchen by any means, and even I managed to make 36 tortillas in under an hour! With nothing more than a rolling pin, some parchment paper, and a pan, you can make tortillas that taste so much better than the cardboard store bought ones you will wonder why you haven’t made them before! The dough is nothing more than masa harina and water, and is even on the side of the masa harina bag for you. Mix, play with the PlayDoh dough, roll between parchment to a size of your liking, and cook for ~30s. on each side. That’s all that’s standing between you and a stack of piping hot tortillas! Mine were a bit misshapen, but that is due entirely to rolling technique with an empty peanut butter jar. Still tasty and delicious, they are the perfect scooping vessel for whatever – from guacamole to this delicious stew!

There are different tortilla recipes in Viva Vegan!, but here is a step-by-step guide with pictures: Homemade Corn Tortillas. I don’t have a tortilla press, and just rolled out the dough in a circular(ish) shape between two pieces of parchment paper with my ‘rolling pin’ (aka. peanut butter jar). Even with this rudimentary method, I was slowed down in production by the size of my pan, not the speed of my rolling. I am sure you get prettier tortillas faster using a tortilla press, but for my kitchen my method worked just fine. After all, they only need to look pretty for the 5 seconds on the plate before you eat them!


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