Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cauliflower and parsnip curry

Another "what am I going to do with all this veg?" recipe. Yes, we are still struggling with it and Sarah was away again this weekend. So on Saturday evening I tried to make some space in the fridge and get ahead for the week by making a vegetable curry to take in as lunches. The cauliflower in this was from two boxes ago and the parsnips have been languishing for one week; heaven knows when the celery appeared. This certainly didn't make any in-roads into the latest selection.

It is a very basic curry, using ready ground spices, in which pretty much any left-over bits can be used up - squash, potatoes, broccoli, leafy greens... And don't worry if they look a bit sad already - any loss of colour is irrelevant once the turmeric and paprika are in!

Canned pulses or meat could be added if you feel the need for more protein. Skip the lentils if you don't happen to have any, they're just to provide some bulk to the sauce and you can compensate by using less water and living with less sauce. (Proper curry sauce is based on ghee-softened laboriously-chopped onions; this is the healthier, simpler alternative.) Fresh chilli can be replaced with a pinch of chilli flakes or some ground chilli powder, say half a teaspoon (or more to taste).

Before and after:

For a good four portions:
  • 2 tbsp oil (olive, vegetable, sunflower, whatever)
  • 2 smallish onions (or one big 'un)
  • 2 parsnips (or one enormous bruiser)
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can water (i.e. fill the tomato can with water to rinse and measure simultaneously)
  • 1/2 American cup measure or about 125g red lentils
  • 2 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
  • Salt and pepper

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan. Chop onion into small wedges and add to pan. Peel and dice parsnip, then chuck in with the onion on a medium heat. Finely (very finely, even) chop the celery and add to the pan. Finely chop or mince the chilli, removing the seeds unless you have a taste for the very spicy, and stir into the already softening vegetables. Stir in all of the ground spices at the same time. If it looks like the spices might burn on to the bottom of the pan, add some water now. Cut your cauliflower up into small florets and the pepper into bite-sized pieces and stir into the pan together with the canned tomatoes, lentils, water (reduced roughly accordingly if you already added some) and tomato puree. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the lentils are done. Remove the lid if it is not thickening or add more water if it looks like drying out and sticking to the bottom. Before eating, taste and salt as required.

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