Monday, September 04, 2006

Mind Your Peas (and Cute Carrots, Too)

I've admitted before that I'm not overly fond of peas. I'm not sure how to pinpoint what exactly it is about them that I don't care for, aside from the starchy taste, but at least I've learned to eat them and appreciate them as needed. (The Chef Mother still can't quite believe that, but I've assured her that they'll never show up on their own as a side dish on my plate.)

Since I've been able to find fresh edamame, though, I don't feel so bad about not freezing too many peas for winter soups and curries (and the occasional samosas). And since I ran out of freezer bags before I finished preparing the edamame for freezing, I decided to clean out the refrigerator and put a new twist on one of my favorite home-cooked Indian dinners.

Thanks to the glorious bounty found at the farmers' market, I could throw together those edamame with some tender and colorful organic carrots, organic French fingerling potatoes, good Roma tomatoes, organic garlic, and a couple of the dried chiles My Wonderful Parents sent me from Arizona a year and a half ago, resulting in a simple vegetable dish that never fails to satisfy.

Dishes like this never fail to make me happy: the vegetable prep may take a little while, but I usually enjoy the repetitive, meditative nature of the work, and once everything is together in the skillet, I can turn the heat down low, walk away, and read for a while.

When I return, I find a simple, savory, healthy meal just waiting to be spooned over brown basmati rice (or pasta; depends on what I have on hand) and eaten with relish (er, chutney) while I give thanks to the farmers who brought the produce in to the market.

Peas, Carrots, and Potatoes

This recipe from The Indian Vegetarian was the first in which I succeeded in achieving the level of spice and heat I've grown accustomed to having in Indian restaurants. I have long been wary of cooking with fresh hot peppers, but I find that now even two dried chiles, punctured with a fork, don't make it quite hot enough for me, so next time I'll have to pull out the jalapenos to work up a nice light sweat. This dish makes a great lunch of leftovers, too... folks at work are jealous when I bring this in and reheat it! Serve with rice and some raita for a simple but filling meal.

2 T canola oil
4 jalapeno peppers, skin punctured to prevent them from bursting
OR 2 dried chile peppers, punctured with a fork
1 T peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 c finely chopped fresh tomatoes
1 c loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
3 c shelled fresh peas or edamame
2 c young carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 small red or white potatoes, cut into 6 wedges each
Up to 1/2 c water
1 tsp mango powder
3 T chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over moderately high heat and cook the jalapeno peppers, ginger, and garlic, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Mix in the tomatoes, cilantro, peas, carrots, and potatoes. Cover the pan and cook over high heat about 3 to 4 minutes. Add water, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 15 minutes. Gently stir in the mango powder, ensuring that the potatoes do not break.

Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the cilantro, and serve hot as a side dish with any entree.

Serves 8 (4 as an entrée)


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