Category Archives: Main Course

Gani-inspired vegetable curry

I had the thoroughly delightful experience of interviewing Venkappa and Ratna Gani, Austin gardeners extraordinaire, for an article in Edible Austin. At the end of the conversation, I asked Ratna if she could pass on a shred of authentic Indian cooking advice, and here’s what I got:

“Add whole mustard seeds and whole cumin seeds to hot oil. When the seeds start to pop, add onions and vegetables and sauté. Finish with curry powder, salt, lemon and tamarind, to taste.”

A perfect and complete recipe in two short sentences. The answer to  questions such as: “What vegetables?” and “How much?” is simply,  “Whatever you have.” And here’s what I had:

Cauliflower, ginger, carrots and scallions.

Mustard and cumin seeds.

Curry, black pepper, sea salt and turmeric.

The carrot tops were entirely too gorgeous to toss into the compost, so I banded them together and hung them upside down in the chicken’s yard. Chickens feasting on carrot tops is a delightful sight.

Back to peeling, chopping and cooking. I went heavy on the ginger as a stand-in for lemon and tamarind, boiled a few cups of basmati rice in the process and

Ingredients

  • 3 T canola oil
  • 2 t mustard seeds
  • 1 t whole cumin seeds
  • Two sizable knobs of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Half head of cauliflower rough chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 -14 oz. can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 2 t curry powder
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • A few sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 1 3/4 cups water

Directions

Boil 1 3/4 cups of water and add rice along with a touch of salt. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed–about 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a large pan or wok. Add mustard and cumin seeds to hot oil. After the mustard seeds have popped for a few minutes, add the white parts of the scallions and ginger, followed by cauliflower and carrots.

As the vegetables are cooking on a medium to high heat, gently add curry, turmeric, salt and pepper. Stir vegetables to evenly distribute the spices and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

Drain garbanzo beans and toss into the vegetable. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in scallion greens.

Serve over rice and garnish with a few cilantro sprigs.

While I’m no stranger to a teaspoon of curry here and there, the game changer here is the delightful little mustard seeds. From the moment they start popping in the oil to that final journey from the fork, the little mustard seeds can add a whole new dimension to a few humble vegetables.

Pasta with Arugula and Bleu Cheese

Take two of the strongest flavors out there–the spiciest of greens, the strongest of cheeses, toss with some hot spaghetti and the world is forever rocked.

I picked up a tightly packed sack of arugula at the downtown farmers market Saturday and proceeded to rinse and dry the entire haul.

Feeling an abundance of options for this little leaf that makes everything better, I opened my daily “What to Cook” email from the New York Times and there it was: Pasta with Gorgonzola and Arugula. Perfect.

All I needed was the Gorgonzola and a quick trip to Wheatsville to pick up this missing link was a big of a disappointment. No Gorgonzola. I did some on-the-fly of Google research to see whether Bleu would do and learned what the rest of the world has probably known for a long time: Bleu cheese is an umbrella category that includes Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton.*

Before the week is out, I am going to make this recipe again using Gorgonzola, but in my lack of patience yesterday, I went for the 4 oz. container of bleu crumbles, and all was well.

 

Ingredients

  • About 4 cups of chopped arugula
  • 12 oz. dried spaghetti
  • 3  T butter
  • 3 T half and half
  • 4 oz. bleu cheese
  • Black pepper

Directions

Wash and dry arugula. Chop and transfer to a platter or serving bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook to desired firmness.

Melt butter. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese and half and half.  Stir frequently until cheese is melted. Remove from heat.

Drain cooked pasta and immediately smother arugula with hot pasta to partially wilt the leaves. Top with bleu cheese sauce and toss thoroughly.

Serve immediately with cracked pepper.

*Now that I am a bleu cheese expert, I’ll share a shred of what I’ve just learned: Gorgonzola originated in Italy and is made from cow’s milk; Roquefort originated in the South of France and is made from sheep’s milk; Stilton–England, cows.

Roasted Pumpkin with Bleu Cheese and Pasta

 

roasted pumpkin and bleu cheese  pasta

The star of this week’s CSA farm delivery was an adorable pie pumpkin. Continue reading Roasted Pumpkin with Bleu Cheese and Pasta

Vegetable Gumbo

Vegetable GumboSometime in the late 1980s,  there was a short-lived fascination with Cajun cooking. Living about 1,000 miles North of New Orleans, I bought a Paul Prudhomme cookbook and took a deep dive into a Cajun dinner party.  Continue reading Vegetable Gumbo

Moroccan Lentils with Carrots and Golden Raisins

Moroccan Lentils with Raisins and CarrotsMeatless Monday!
As if …
going without meat one measly day a week is a big deal. Seriously? So Monday is the one day of the week that collectively, we go a bit off the grid and take some baby steps toward doing the thing. Not a sacrifice. Continue reading Moroccan Lentils with Carrots and Golden Raisins