Sometimes it is downright ridiculous how generous our CSA share is–and we only have a half share. Last week, the farmers at Mountain View Farms brought eggplants galore, summer squash, numerous hot and sweet peppers, THREE heads of broccoli, cucumbers, greens, pounds of carrots, cabbages, fennel, onions, herbs, and an entire flat of tomatoes. Even in two weeks, it’s a scramble to turn these incredibly fresh vegetables into meals before they lose freshness and begin to spoil. Of course, who doesn’t love a ratatouille? But variety in flavor helps keep the excitement and commitment to such an ambitious kitchen endeavor.
Curries are a great alternative to the summer ratatouille and a great way to use those hot peppers. I love Indian peppers and bought a large bag at Kalustyan’s, a specialty food store in Lexington Avenue’s Little India stretch between 27th and 30th Streets. They carry over 4,000 types of of spices, herbs, dried chiles, beans and other food imports from “all corners of the globe from the oriental China to the sunny West Indies.” I use the these Indian red chile peppers in any dish that calls for dried chiles. They are mildly to moderately hot, 30,000-60,000 on the Scoville scale of measuring pepper pungency.
Summer Vegetable Curry with Green Lentils
Here’s a fast curry recipe that cooks up well the first time and reheats with even more flavor. Yogurt calms the heat from fresh and dried chili peppers, Serve it with simply-prepared green lentils.
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons coconut oil or clarified butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 dried chili pepper
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 small fresh hot chili, minced (leave seeds in for extra heat, deseed for less heat)
2 large Chinese or Thai eggplants
2 large yellow summer squash
5 curry leaves, optional
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek-style sheep’s milk from the Greenmarket)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or thai basil
1 cup green lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Freshly-ground black pepper
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil or clarified butter in large frying pan over medium high heat. Add broccoli florets and cook until the broccoli is still bright, green and crisp, but easy to bite into. Remove broccoli from pan and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, place lentils in a medium pot with 2 cups of water and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until lentils are fully cooked but not mushy. Remove from heat. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
3. Add remaining tablespoon of oil or butter to frying pan. When oil is hot, add cumin and mustard seeds and fry for 30 seconds. Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook another minute. Then add cumin, turmeric, garam masala and smoked paprika, dried and fresh chiles, and cook another minute.
4. Add peppers, eggplant and squash to pan and lower heat to medium low. Cook until vegetables soften and eggplant browns on the edges. Add curry leaves, stir to soften.
5. Add broccoli back to pan and heat through. Add yogurt and stir to combine. Turn heat to low and simmer, covered for about 3 minutes.
6. Serve on plate or in bowl on top of a heaping serving of lentils with a dollop of yogurt and fresh chopped mint.