What do you do when you plan to eat seasonably, but do not want the same century old taste over and over again? You look for new recipes! And that is what I did, after a trip to the farmer’s market.
I had carefully checked the seasonal produce calendar for our region and bought home only those which were in season. I had turnips, carrots, parsnips and beets at hand, but did not want to repeat a recipe of traditional curry for an umpteenth time. I was craving for something different; something, which was nutritious and, of course, quick and easy. I am one of those people, who like to spend ‘less’ time cooking and cleaning, and more time enjoying it. I crave home-cooked food because I know what’s in it, it’s budget-friendly and cooking to me is a therapy.
With red, orange and off-white colours at hand, I was thrilled for trying out a new recipe. I went on Google to look up for some turnip recipes. The search results that it offered were not appeasing for my taste buds. But I wasn’t to give up. I then typed winter recipes. And an array of soups and stews options was delivered to me. Root Vegetable Stew… hmm… that seemed interesting… and so I was hooked. It was all vegetables (a treat for a veggie lover), and I had all the ingredients at hand.
Rarely do I follow a recipe as it is. I have to make some tweaks, because sometimes, something is completely off our dietary guidelines; and sometimes, the sugar or salt content is too high. Having said that, I now present the root vegetable stew recipe – with a twist!
1 cup carrot, peeled and diced
2 cups turnips, peeled and diced
1 cup parsnip, peeled and diced
5 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced; or 2 cans of diced tomatoes
¼ cup tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 ½ quarts vegetable stock (if store-bought, then look for low-sodium options)
1 cup millet or ½ cup couscous
½ cup coconut oil (or any other cooking oil)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
- Take a wide deep pot, and heat the oil in it over medium-high heat. Add the root vegetables and turn them three or four times, until they are completely glazed giving out a rich colour. Season them with salt and pepper and add garlic as well. Keep the seasoning low at this point and adjust it later, if the need be.
- When it starts releasing its fragrance, add tomato paste and coat the vegetables. Stir for a few minutes and add diced tomatoes and thyme. Allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes, then add vinegar and bring to a boil. The heat should be medium-high.
- When nearly all of the liquid has evaporated, add the bay leaf, cumin, coriander, and crushed red pepper. Stir in the vegetable broth and adjust salt. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Add the millet or couscous, bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or until the vegetables are soft and the millet or couscous is tender, but still retaining its shape).
- Your root vegetable stew is ready to serve. Serve it with croutons or grilled cheese sandwiches.
This was the first time I added cumin or coriander to a soup. And I realised, it was not a soup but a stew. The tangy flavour of spices and the warmth of flavourful vegetables make this stew a welcoming meal.
Note: You can use the same recipe to turn this into a soup by not drying out much liquid. After step 3, keep the heat medium-low, add in millet or couscous and cook until the vegetables and grains are soft.
(Recipe adapted from Leite’sCulinaria)