Saturday, April 22, 2006

Caribbean Stew

I had another fabulous meal last night! I've never cooked Caribbean food but I love it. Caribbean food is full of flavor and I love that a lot of dishes call for allspice. This recipe had caught my eye before but I was previously turned off by the 1 hour cooking time and the chopping of vegetables. But my cooking buddy was in charge of the evening meal, so I was able to kick back, observe, and help out on an as needed basis. This recipe comes from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites Cookbook which is so great because it has recipes from all over the world!

This recipe introduced me to kale. I've heard and seen kale but have never prepared it or eaten it, knowingly that is. I have since learned that kale is a form of cabbage. It is a good source of vitamin C, and is rich in beta-carotene and phytochemicals such as indoles and sulforaphane. Kale is available year round but its seasonal peak is between January and April. Apparently we got it just in time!

Serves 4
Time: 1 hour

-1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tsp vegetable oil
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp ground allspice
-1 minced fresh chile, seeds removed for a milder 'hot'
-1 large sweet potato, cut into medium chunks (about 2 cups)
-2 c water or vegetable stock
-2 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
-1 1/2 c undrained canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped
-4 c loosely packed shredded kale
-1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
-2 to 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
-salt to taste

My cooking buddy used water not vegetable broth. With regard to the zucchini, I was instructed to cut the zucchini in half length wise, and each half into half again. I chopped these into 1/2 inch chunks. In previous cooking experiences we found that large chunks of zucchini don't do very well. We forgot the cilantro so we skipped it.

Sprinkle onions with the salt. In a covered pot, saute the onions in the oil for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. My cooking buddy tossed the onions into the pot and then sprinkled them with salt (it's easier this way). Add thyme, allspice, and chile and continue to cook for another minute or two. Stir in sweet potatoes and the water/stock and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and the tomatoes with their juice and simmer 10 to 15 minutes more, until all of the vegetables are barely tender. Add the kale and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon or lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste.

Serve with brown rice and jerk tofu. The jerk tofu was amazing but as it is the most high maintenance dish to make that I'm not going to write about it unless I get requests to do so.

I had this dish for dinner this evening and I'm still thinking about it 5 hours later.

Have fun!

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