Oct 20, 2009

A template for a billion different dishes!

For some unexplainable behavioral compulsion, call it healthy, I feel guilty if I go without some form of veggies for a couple of days at a stretch. It is a very rare situation. But, it has happened. And part of the reason is, it is difficult to come up with tasty recipes which are not a repeat version of something, that I have made a zillion times already. I know some of you are shaking your head. You know that feeling...! How best to come up with something new? A perpetual question on anyone's mind who likes to cook at home.

Okay..one thing is salads. You can make a zillion different combos. But dressing wise...how many can you come up with? Several. I agree.

However, I am talking of a veggie side dish. A fulfilling one. One way, I have figured is using the philosophy behind making salads. Basically, using the same spice used in different combination of veggies. It works like a charm. And different veggies always make the taste way different. For example, a spice rub of cumin and ginger will taste very different on say eggplant/ beans combo than say tomato/potato/ cabbage combo. See what I mean.

I keep doing this...so basically in every veggie recipe that I post-- there is inbuilt a zillion recipes--any of the zillion combinations you can possibly come up with. The more imaginative or in some cases daring you are, chances are you are gonna be very benefitted.  'Isn't that a clever disguise Christopher Robin'?

So here is one such template.

Remember this part is very variable. You chose your veggie combinations. I used the following. Cos that was what I found in the refrigerator. Also this makes for a very good refrigerator clean up dish.

A handful of  green beans
1 medium size  eggplant
2 medium size potatoes
12 or so Mushrooms-- Crimini, Bella anything. This was the twist :)

1 tsp of grated ginger
1 tsp of powder cumin
A pinch of turmeric optional
A pinch of cayenne pepper optional

3 tbsf regular oil
A cup of vegetable stock or hot water.  Remember, warm stock or hot water makes any dish much for flavorful by trapping the vapors already being given off by the food. If you are using stock, take it out of the refrigerator an hour before using it. This will allow it to come up to room temperature.

Salt and pepper and half a tsp of lime juice for seasoning.

There is really one easy way to do this!

Chop up all your veggies into bite size chunks. In a deep skillet, heat the oil. Once hot, reduce temperature and add the potatoes. Saute  for  half a minute and cover. This will allow  quick cooking of the potatoes in minimal oil. Do this for  a good 3-4 minutes. Saute every minute to prevent burning of the potatoes at the bottom. Add the eggplants and do the same thing for another  3-4 minutes. Add the beans and do the same for 2 minutes. Add the mushroom, ginger and cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper (if you are using them) and saute for half a minute or so. Add the water or stock, give the pot one big stir, lower heat to simmer and let cook through for 8-10 minutes. Remove the cover and... smell the vapor. That is your template on which to cook anything else using this technique! season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Serve as a side dish with anything. You have your quota of fresh spice and vegetable! And a template for a zillion different combinations...how cool is that :)

Happy eating and healthy living!


Palidor said...

Oooh, that looks nice! I also struggle to cook interesting vegetable dishes. And since I don't eat salad (ugh, just not a fan of raw vegetables... good way to get food poisoning), I find myself cooking the same things over and over again. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

Cathy said...

I have never felt guilty for missing veggies.....I must be lacking something ;) I definitely notice a week of no wine (on antibiotics right now). Perhaps it's time for me to incorporate more veggies into my diet...

Jhonny walker said...

Palidor! I love salads-- but yes they cannot be like everyday thing.

Cathy-- I would totally notice a couple of days without wine. Yes veggies too...:)

The Japanese Redneck said...

I love vegetables. My husband mainly only likes southern vegetables. (Peas, butterbeans, squash and tomatoes). He will eat some of the others, but not as much as I do.

He claims to be a meat - a - trian. I could be happy will veggies only, but hubby wouldn't.


Fairy Footprints said...

I think I am with you on this one, I have been on a veggie kick lately also, maybe its just the season for it. Great receipe though I will have to try it out.


Nat said...

Hi JW, you really ought to be a food critic for some fancy magazine. You write/ analyze the elements of food with so much quality and articulation...!

Normally, I find it difficult to write about food unless i have a picture as the primary focal point...but in your case, your writing alone delivers the idea/ concept so brilliantly, and your final picture is the garnish :). On to the food part..i love the idea of using one technique yet creating unique vege dishes in its own zone, i also love cumin in vege's...so I just can't wait to give this a go...as it is all items I ALWAYS have in stock in my kitchen.

... Brilliance.

Chow and Chatter said...

well said Nat I agree! oh I am the same need to get my veggies in!

Mimi said...

Interesting concept. I suppose you could also change the cooking method, roasting , saute or steaming for additonal variety.

Jhonny walker said...

Mimi...perfect! those would be great too...I like steaming better...so will def try with it

Nat and Rebecca: Thank you so much for such encouraging words. But Nat..someday I want to open a high end restaurant and write a novel-- you think that will happen? Also a stint at Cosmopolitan will be great!

So many dreams-- so little time :) :)