Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A very easy vegetable: zucchini and red peppers

I believe in eating with the seasons, but I also believe in eating things other than cruciferous (cabbage family) and root vegetables in the winter. So, as a special reward for those who put up with my blog and read through the excessively long (but also excessively good) recipe for vegetarian chili, here is a very easy vegetable dish. We actually had it for Shabbat dinner on Christmas day, and with its red and green colors, those of you who swing that way could serve it for a Christmas meal.

Zucchini with red peppers and mustard seeds:
  1. Soak 2 or 3 medium zucchini squash in water for about 10 minutes while you prepare the peppers.
  2. Clean 2 large or 4 small sweet red peppers and cut into batons about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. (I used 4 small sweet peppers in a bag imported from G-d knows where -- talk about not eating locally.)
  3. Rinse the zucchini and check for sand. Scrape or peel off all the sandy parts, and cut into similar size pieces as the peppers.
  4. Heat oil (mustard, light sesame, peanut or canola will all be good, and will give slightly different results) on high in a medium skillet. If you use non stick, 1 tablespoon is more than enough. Otherwise, use about 3 tablespoons.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds in the oil. After they start to pop (they will go all over the place) turn the heat down, and when they have all popped and turned gray, add the peppers.
  6. Stir fry the peppers about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Add zucchini, salt well, and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until brown in spots and done to your taste.
  8. This is good hot or at room temperature.
Variation: Add about 15 curry leaves after the mustard seeds pop, and before the peppers. After the curry leaves, you could also add a pinch of asafoetida (hing), a bit of turmeric and some chili pepper, but this seemed far too complicated for the occasion, and the flavors would have clashed with the Greek chicken with pasta we were having. Although popped mustard seeds are distinctly Indian, their nutty flavor fits well with many cuisines in ways that more complicated spice combinations might not. A squeeze of lemon would never hurt, though.

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