Greens, Beans & A Little Spice
After the Ballymaloe Litfest in May I was inspired to try to reduce the amount of meat I was eating and set myself a mini-challenge this summer to cook more interesting meals with vegetables. It has certainly been a challenge. I'm living at home with my folks and cooking for them too, and they haven't shared my inspiration. So, while I haven't really reduced meat from my diet, I have been experimenting with making vegetables a bit more appealing.
The four dishes below are my favourites from what I've tried. I've based the dishes around a protein/carb/lentil or vegetable and then add spices or herbs, or other bits and pieces that I have for flavour. These dishes might give you some ideas of what ingredients go together but for the most part, the ingredients can be substituted with whatever vegetables you might have to hand. I've used spices a lot, particularly cumin and coriander as they really lift starchy vegetables or grains from being a little bland. All dishes below serve 2.
(And by the way...thank you to the folks who completed the survey that I shared in June. Finding the motivation to cook was the most common struggle in the kitchen, and something that I'll be writing more about here in the future.)
Spiced potato salad with brocolli, red onion & feta
Slice 6 baby potatoes in half, drizzle in a little oil with a 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander in a baking tray and roast in the oven at 200 for 30 minutes until cooked.
Add 1 sliced red onion to the potatoes in the baking tray for the last 15 minutes.
Cook the brocolli in boiling water for 5 minutes.
When the potatoes and onions are cooked and a little crispy, add the brocolli and toss with the oil and spices. Sprinkle over a little lemon, and feta for some saltiness.
Sweet potato chips with mint yogurt (a good side or snack)
Wash and slice 4 sweet potatoes (no need to peel) into large slices or wedges. Mix them in a bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tsp of paprika and shake so that the potatoes are covered in the oil. I added some fresh thyme that I had here too.
Place them in a single layer on a baking tray or dish and cook at 180 for 30-40 minutes, until golden and crisp on the outside. Add salt and pepper. I made a mint dip to go with them by mixing 2 teaspoons of Colmans concentrated mint sauce to a dollop of natural yogurt.
In some olive oil I fried 2 chopped red onions, 2 chopped cloves of garlic and 1 red pepper, chopped finely. Cook for about 10 minutes until soft. I had green cardamom pods and crushed about 6 of them taking out the black seeds and added them to the onions with a tablespoon of Sharwoods medium curry powder.
Stirring the powder and seeds through the onions, garlic and peppers really releases the spicy aroma. After cooking them through for about 5 minutes, I added a 330ml tin of green lentils, half a tin of coconut milk and 1 pint of vegetable stock. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced. Serve as a sauce with rice. This is good to cook ahead too, and will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Spiced crispy chickpea salad with tomato, pepper and feta
I heated olive oil in a frying pan and added 1.5 teaspoon of ground coriander and .5 teaspoon of ground cumin. I added 1 sliced red onion and 1 tin of chickpeas (330ml) and cooked until the onions and chickpeas were golden and had absorbed all of the spicy oil. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
In a bowl add 4 tomatoes (chopped), half a green pepper (or cucumber would also work here), some crumbled feta, chopped fresh mint and parsley and a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix together in the bowl and add the chickpeas and onions on top.
And some more vegetable recipes from a few of my fave Irish food bloggers:
Oven-baked breaded tomatoes by Katia at Proper Food