What produce do we have locally in Vermont right now? Roots, fresh greens, more roots, and frozen vegetables. But that’s a lot!
The snow is piling up, and we need something to warm us up! The gardens are buried, most of the farm stands are closed, but we can still serve up delightful meals with the bulk of the ingredients sourced locally.
On a recent Saturday, I surveyed the results of my hunter-gathering efforts at Harlow’s winter market in Westminster, Allen Brothers Farm Stand, and the Brattleboro Co-op, and discovered I had compiled a beautiful rainbow of produce grown in our county. Yes, they were primarily root vegetables and greens, but pretty they were, and they did not have to travel across the country or world to make their way to my table..
So many possibilities! A soup perhaps, or a stew? Maybe a casserole. It was a cold day, so I decided on a flavorful curry and all the accompaniments.
From my freezer, I retrieved a pint of cherry tomatoes from my own garden, local chopped red peppers from last summer, and ginger from Walker Farms. I tucked several of these large rhizomes in the freezer last fall; frozen ginger grates easier than fresh, so when you find a good source, freezing is a great option. Just grate what you need, and put the rest back in the freezer.
The only ingredients in this curry that are not local are the exotic spices, chick peas, and coconut milk, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some enterprising Vermont farmer figured out how to grow palm trees in the near future as well!
Not only delicious, but healthful as well
A curry has lots of warm spices that are also anti-inflammatory, a great boost for the metabolism in the winter.
The vegetables here are suggestions. If you like golden beets or sweet potatoes, add those; if you don’t like turnips, substitute something else. Cauliflower is also lovely in this, but use what you like and can find, just try to use vegetables of many colors of the rainbow to please the eye as well as the body.
If you can’t find good cherry tomatoes, or haven’t tucked them away in your own freezer, you can easily substitute canned, diced tomatoes.
Plan those leftovers
This makes a large batch, some for this week, and some for the freezer! You can also halve the recipe.
A Winter Vegetable Curry
Make this vegetable curry as hot or mild as you like by adjusting the pepper and cayenne. In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat:
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
Once hot, add:
- 1 large purple or yellow onion, sliced
Cook for five minutes or so until the onions soften and start to brown, then add:
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Serrano pepper, minced
- 2 tbsp. finely minced ginger
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 2 tsp. garam masala*
- 1 tsp. anise or fennel seeds
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Stir the mixture for a minute or so, until the spices bloom and fill your kitchen with tantalizing aromas. This is a step you don’t want to skip, because the spices will release their aromatics better when heated in oil. Add your vegetables, which you have chopped up into similar size:
- 2 cups rutabaga, chopped
- 2 cups purple- or yellow-fleshed potatoes, chopped
- 1 cup carrots or parsnips, sliced into coins
- 2 cups daikon radish or spicy turnip, chopped
Stir everything together well, let cook for a few minutes, then add:
- 1 cup water
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, fresh or frozen
- ½ cup chopped sweet pepper, fresh or frozen
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Gently stir in:
- 1 can organic, unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 cups chick peas, cooked, or 1 can chick peas, no salt added, drained
Simmer on lowest heat for another 15 minutes, and check seasoning, adding salt and pepper if desired. When done, top with:
- The juice of one lime
- Chopped cilantro or parsley
Serve this vegetable curry with jasmine or basmati rice, or naan bread if you can find it. Traditionally, a cooling cucumber raita (recipe below) is often served on the side, especially if you make the curry hot.
Raita can become watery if you don’t rid the cucumbers of as much moisture as possible. To do this, we must salt and drain to extract that water.
- 1 large English cucumber
Place in a colander and sprinkle with:
- 2 tsp. salt
Let this sit for 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse and squeeze the water out. Place in a large bowl and add:
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp. fresh mint, minced
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley or cilantro, minced
- 2 scallions, minced
- ½ tsp. garam masala
- ½ tsp. salt
Mix everything together. To serve, top with a little sweet paprika and more chopped herbs.
This spice blend is easily found at local markets and co-ops, and contain different blends of spices. If you want to make your own blend to have on hand, buy the spices in bulk and combine in a combination you like. You’ll save money, have really fresh spices, and can make it according to your own preference.
Here’s a suggested starter:
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. ground fennel
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. cloves
Mix these together and store in a tightly sealed container out of direct light.
© Copyright 2019 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read, The New Vintage Kitchen