2 Ways to Spice up Your Veggies for the Winter

We know that being a foodie is much more than just loving food. Everybody loves food! But we foodies are passionate about the fine details and intricacies, the history, the ingredients, the techniques used to prepare it. We think about it, explore it, cook it and respect it in addition to loving it.

So naturally we get all excited about flavors, colors, textures and aromas, But sometimes we can forget to think about how food makes us feel. I get a certain warm cozy feeling when I take a bite of my grandmother’s sweet potato pie or my dad’s navy beans. They just give me a homey feeling I can’t get anywhere else.

Another important part of experiencing food is how it makes us feel physically. For example, when I eat a hoagie from back home in Pennsylvania, at first I feel nostalgic, but later I feel heavy,with indigestion. All that bread and processed pork and cheese just weighs me down. But eating fresh vegetables and fruits gives me energy, I guess because they’re live food (so my vegan friends tell me).

Does anybody ever stop to think about plant-based foods not as foods we just put up with, or worse, force down like bad medicine because we have to? There are so many recipes out there that show us how to hide vegetables or trick our families into eating them because they assume that we don’t want to eat them. I think that focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables are a major part of a foodie experience. They enhance dishes. They add bright colors, (don’t peppers pretty up a stir fry?), they add different textures and even lighten up dishes that otherwise be too heavy (like adding pureed cauliflower to smashed potatoes). They also are superior flavor transporters and subtle taste balancers (like carrots adding sweetness to marinara).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really a vegetable enthusiast and obviously not vegan or vegetarian but I think vegetables and plant based foods should be honored. Ok, honored might be a little dramatic. They should be acknowledged and appreciated. Vegetables are front and center in two of my all-time favorite dishes: Moroccan tajine and Caribbean curry. You can use almost any combination of vegetables as long as you stagger their cooking times so that they each end up with the proper texture. This tajine and curry are essentially the same recipe with only a few minor differences.

Tajine

Slow cooker or oven-safe clay pot

*I cook this with chicken

Ingredients 

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion – coarsely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp ras al hanout – Moroccan spice mix
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 small- medium eggplant
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • cilantro/coriander

If you are using chicken, lightly brown it first. Heat the garlic, ginger and onion, in a little olive oil making sure not to toast the garlic. Add spice for about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and carrots and cook on medium for about 15 minutes. Add eggplant, pepper and chickpeas and cook on low for another 20 minutes, or until the eggplant and tomatoes disappear and the carrots and chickpeas are reasonably tender. Garnish with cilantro/coriander.

Serve with couscous.

Curry

Ingredients 

Slow cooker or oven-safe clay pot

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion – coarsely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 4 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 small- medium eggplant
  • 1 green bell pepper cut into chunks
  • 3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • parsley

If you are using chicken, lightly brown it first. Heat the garlic, ginger and onion, in a little olive oil making sure not to toast the garlic. Add spice for about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, potatoes and carrots and cook on medium for about 15 minutes. Add eggplant, pepper and chickpeas and cook on low for another 20 minutes, or until the eggplant and tomatoes disappear and the potatoes, carrots and chickpeas are reasonably tender. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

Serve with rice or quinoa.

Enjoy!

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