Veggies as Passports

Somewhere on the web, I thought I saw that next week was National Baking Week. Now, for the love of money, I cannot find that anywhere and I’m thinking that I’m losing my mind. My grand plan was to devote all of this week’s posts to veggie and non-dessert food recipes, since next week I want to totally overload you with sugar. Bwah-ha-ha! Oh, but in a nice way. Easter and Passover are around the corner, so it all seemed to fit. You’ll be needing some dessert recipes. Even though I can’t find that info anywhere, I’m still going to forge ahead with my plan. Veggies only this week. In the meantime, if anyone finds confirmation about that Baking Week and can save me from feeling like I should start doing Sudoku to save my brain cells, please do.

First item on deck…an UPDATE. After my post a while back about CSA’s, a friend approached me and asked if my family would like to “share a share” with her family so that we could finally give the CSA thing a whirl. She had bought a share last summer and enjoyed it but also found that some of the veggies she got her family was allergic to, some she didn’t know what to do with…that kind of stuff. So, the new plan is to share….I can try it out, we can brainstorm collectively on recipes for the produce that we are given…win-win. Love that idea. So, our share is going to start in June and run for 20 weeks (“20 weeks”…sounds like we are having babies instead of veggies) and we will be getting produce such as lettuce, scallions, cauliflower, beans, broccoli, garlic, peas, beets, spinach, swiss chard, radishes, tomatoes and about 10 other things. Needless to say, this should make for some good posts this summer and if nothing else, my antioxidant levels should be shooting through the roof come August.

And now for some good veggie recipes. I don’t know about you, but for some reason, coming up with interesting side vegetable dishes to go with dinners is much more difficult than it should be. Unless I crack open a cookbook, I feel like I usually end up doing the same kinds of stuff over and over again. Hello…cabinet full of spices? Fridge full of veggies? So why the heck are we having a salad once again, tell me that? Another  kicker is kids. My kids are still in favor of raw veggies over cooked in many cases. We are slowly getting out of that (thankfully, they are totally into salads now) but it’s a little bit of a crap-shoot. The other kicker is my husband  (love you, hon). He won’t go near a beet or a turnip and he also claims to have once liked brussel sprouts but that I cooked them one-too-many times for a period of time about 18 years ago and now he won’t go near them. I kid you not. I’m also the only one in the house who will go near Broccoli Rabe. You can see my veggie field narrowing as I type, can’t you?

Well, I have hit on a few good ones and I’ll share two of them with you today. Grab your passport because one is Northern African and one is Indian. Life is too short to stay on one continent.

Coated Carrots Afrique du Nord-The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without by Mollie Katzen

2 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil (sidenote: I love the way Paula Deen says olive oil…Ah-leeeve-Awl. Cracks me up every time)
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. unsalted butter (optional)
1 tsp. minced or crushed garlic (remember..fresh!)
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2 Tb. orange juice
2 Tb. fresh lemon juice

Optional garnishes: additional lemon juice or lemon wedges, a touch of honey (wasn’t that a band in the 70s?), minced fresh mint, red pepper flakes.

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking tray with foil, spray generously with cooking spray. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add the olive oil and swirl to coat pan. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and toss to coat. Let the seeds brown for about 3 minutes, but don’t let them burn. When they are slightly toasty smelling, add the ground cumin and cinnamon and cook together for a few minutes. Add butter, if using, then stir in the garlic. Add the carrots, tossing to coat. Sprinkle in the salt and o.j. and stir well. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.Transfer all to the baking tray, spreading in a single layer. Bake for about 15 minutes (shake pan once or so to mix it all up during the baking). Sprinkle with any or all of optional garnishes.

Green Beans Thoren– Curried Flavors by Maya Kaimal MacMillan

1 lb. fresh green beans
3/4 cup grated unsweetened coconut
1 green chili (serrano, Thai or jalapeno), split lengthwise…ribs and seeds removed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 cup water, as needed
1 tsp. mustard seeds
2 dried red peppers
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs. veg. oil
1 Tb. uncooked long-grain rice
Spice mixture:
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric

Cut beans into 1/4 inch pieces and set aside. In a small bowl, combine coconut, green chili, crushed garlic, spice mixture, salt and enough water to make a moist ball. Set aside.

In a covered, large frying pan over high heat, heat mustard seeds, red peppers and bay leaves in oil. When mustard seeds start to pop, uncover and add rice. Stir until it turns white, 20-30 seconds. Add beans, turn down heat to medium high and stir fry until beans turn bright green and are nearly tender. Add 1-2 Tb. water and cover. Add coconut-spice mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are done, about 5-10 minutes. Salt to taste. Serves 6 (or 4 green bean lovers).

Happy Veggie-ing!

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