Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Guest Post: Monastery Vegetables

Hey readers, meet Kay, a wizard with veggies and parentheses:

Hello, all! My name is Kay. I live in England (though I am an American, in case you start wondering where all my extra letter "u"s have gone), and I'm in a constant battle to Lose Weight (cue the Cathy comic strip sweat beads), and I'm madly in love with my veg box (which is this lovely thing they do here where they deliver organic vegetables directly from the local farm to your doorstep--with the dirt still on them!--be still my pretentiously beating heart). Thus, my cooking is pretty much oriented to the following goals:

1) Use up the 987872983767689576234 pounds of vegetables that arrived in the veg box this week.
2) DO NOT GET ANY FATTER! (i.e., eat food that is low-fat yet still tasty enough to help me abstain from the delicious and DEADLY takeaway curry)

Here's something I've made twice now, and I think it is my new favorite. I'll call it Monastery Vegetables, because it is inspired by a recipe for Monastery Lentils in the 1971 cookbook "Diet for a Small Planet" by Francis Moore Lappe. The beauty of this recipe is that, as long as you adjust the seasonings to avoid blandness, it can take as many root vegetables (and probably any other kind of vegetables) as you care to throw at it--so it's a great way to use up extras. It makes a nice chunky stew, especially delicious if you make sure not to cook it to the point of mushiness. It's also very low-fat, especially if you go lightly on the cheese.


THE VEG, which is very flexible and can include some or all of the following:
Carrots (sliced into large-ish bite-sized chunks)
Turnips, Swede/Rutabaga, Parsnips, Jerusalem Artichokes, Celeriac (peeled and diced)
Onions, chopped
Zucchini/Courgette, quartered and sliced into large-ish chunks
Kale, stringy ribs removed and sliced into thin strips

Chicken or vegetable stock (3 - 4 cubes or to taste)
Chopped tomatoes (3 cans)
Marjoram (1 Tbsp. or to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Very dry sherry (about 1 cup)
Minced fresh parsley (a good-sized bunch)
Emmental cheese, shredded (to taste)

Put the onions and the hard root vegetables in a large stock pot with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and then simmer until soft, topping up water if necessary. After 10 - 20 minutes when the root vegetables are about halfway cooked (depending on the size of your dicing) add the stock cubes, tomatoes, marjoram, salt and pepper, and start adding the faster-cooking veg, beginning with the zucchini/courgettes and moving on to the kale and mushrooms. The goal is to wind up with all the vegetables tender but not mushy. Simmer until kale is tender, and adjust seasoning to taste if necessary. Remove from heat, stir in sherry and parsley, and serve in bowls with little piles of emmental cheese on top. Goes great with crusty brown bread.

Variation: add cooked lentils for a more hearty stew.

1 comment:

  1. I would never eat this due to my vegetable-hating self, but the writing made my heart smile. Love you Kay!