Friday, July 25, 2008

A Southern Girl's Vegetable Curry

There you have it... I cooked real vegetables. Aren't you proud?

I don't know exactly the first time I had a curry, but I do remember that I loved it. Generally I make curries with leftover meats: such as lamb at Christmas or with a leftover roasted chicken.

One night last week I just wanted vegetables for dinner. I feel like we have not been getting enough fruits and veggies, and I just wanted a big plate of green, leafy goodness.

Yet, I'm a southern girl. I grew up eating unhealthy vegetables. With bacon fat. With lots of oil. To give due credit to my mom, she was a pioneer in healthy eating and changed a lot of her cooking styles when we were young. For example, she stopped using saturated fats in our vegetables. She started using chicken or beef bullion instead, and I still love using powdered bullion in our veggies to this day. I love the flavor and my husband does too.

But there are days when bullion just won't cut it. I want real vegetables. I want them tasty and filling. I want them as a meal. And normally my creativity runs completely dry when it comes to healthy, delicious vegetables.

Not today though. Creativity wins today. Karina, Sea.... you two should be proud.

Inspired by a recent post at Lentils and Rice (one of my favorite blogs, you MUST visit!), I decided to make a last minute curry.

I found the initial recipe here, which was for stuffed peppers and a tomato sauce. But I only had one pepper. So (of course!) I changed the ingredients to match what I had on hand and created a skillet vegetable curry. (Actually I used the rice cooker, but that's a story for another post!)

There are several things I really love about this simple and tasty dish.
  • I love the idea of adding a cooked, diced potato to the other vegetables with the dinner. Normally I use potatoes as a side, or as a base to showcase the main part of dinner. Never have I used them as a major character. Potatoes deserve the spotlight sometimes!
  • I love making a homemade curried tomato sauce to highlight the dish, instead of tomatoes actually IN the dish. I get tired of tomato-laden dishes. The sauce for this curry is delicious, perfectly seasoned, and complements the vegetables beautifully without being overpowering!
  • I love being able to use the leftover curried vegetables in a dozen other dishes! The day after I made this, I made omelets using some of the leftover veggies as the filling! Even Michael loved them! Today I used the rest of the leftover veggies in a chicken casserole. And I am still not tired of these vegetables!

I definitely recommend using fresh vegetables if you have them handy. But, in my real life, frozen vegetables are more readily available than fresh. The frozen were still excellent in this dish!

Southern Vegetable Curry with Tomato Sauce

For the Curry:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green -or- red bell pepper
1 (16 oz) package of thawed California vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) -or- whatever veggies you prefer!
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh vegetables of your choice, chopped to bite size pieces, and steamed until fork-tender (I used additional fresh broccoli)
1 russet potato, diced and boiled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Tomato Sauce:
1 (12 oz.) can tomato puree -or- sauce
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
2 tablespoons agave nectar -or- honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Garnish (optional)
1-2 boiled eggs, cooled, peeled, and diced
freshly grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper


For the Vegetable Curry: In your rice cooker on the COOK setting, or on the stovetop in a heavy bottomed skillet (like cast iron) add olive oil and crushed garlic and diced green or red pepper. Cook several minutes until peppers have softened slightly. Add thawed California vegetables, cup of additional vegetables, and cooked, diced potato. Add seasonings for curry. Cover rice cooker or skillet and cook for 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are warmed through.

For the Tomato Sauce:
While vegetables are heating, in a small saucepan add tomato puree or sauce and all remaining sauce ingredients including grated parmesan cheese. Stir together thoroughly and simmer until heated through.

For Presentation:
Attractively plate vegetables. For each serving of vegetables, sprinkle on top, 1 diced boiled egg, 2-3 tablespoons curried tomato sauce, and a little freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly grated black pepper.


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