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Just back yesterday from a short vacation at Ocean Isle, I ran out to the garden to pick everything that might suffer from the cold. Here are the last of the zinnias, with beautiful sprays of white Boltonia and Salvia leucantha (the velvet sage) and even a few hydrangeas with fresh pink blooms.
I came in with arugula, collards, bok choi, peppers, one ripe Japanese persimmon 🙂 and 2 dozen eggplant! Eggplant is fun to share because it is so beautiful, but most people don’t know quite what to do with it. And it can turn into an unhealthy meal in a hurry if you resort to frying it because it soaks up oil like a sponge. It is easy and delicious to simply grill or broil with just a spray of oil and some garlic or oregano. You can also steam/saute it and use with a tomato sauce for pasta, chicken or shrimp.
But here is one of my favorite recipes. It is a Moroccan vegetable stew that I fell in love with the first time I had it at my friend Lisa Sherman’s house. Don’t be put off by the list of spices. This is not hard to make and it is so delicious! It is OK to substitute vegetables and vary the quantities, but the tomatoes, winter squash & chic peas are particularly good. I use whatever I have in abundance from the garden.
Moroccan Vegetable Stew
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1” piece fresh ginger root, minced (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (OR 2 minced Jalapenos)
1 tsp salt
1 cup sliced carrots
4 cups cubed sweet potatoes, butternut or kubocha squash
2 large tomatoes, diced
1- 2 cups of water, vegetable broth or tomato juice added gradually as needed to cook veggies
4 cups cubed eggplant (no need to peel)
3 cups sliced zucchini, yellow squash or cauliflower
1-2 red or green bell peppers, cut in strips
1 ½ cups cooked chic peas
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy stew pot, heat olive oil and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and spices, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add the starchier vegetables first (carrots & winter squash) with the diced tomatoes plus enough liquid to simmer them. Cover & cook for 10 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables, cover and simmer until tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. Stir in raisins. (If you don’t like raisins, and add a tablespoon or two of sugar instead.)
Serve hot with couscous, quinoa or brown rice. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro if desired.
Tip for making really flavorful brown rice: Coat 1 ½ cups of dry rice with 2 tsp of oil before adding 3 cups water.(This keeps your rice from getting gummy.) Add salt, 2 tsp of cumin seed and a cinnamon stick. Simmer for 1 hour.
CLICK to PRINT this RECIPE: Moroccan Vegetable Stew
For all of you coming to class this week, I have Red Amaryllis bulbs available for $8 each. These extra large bulbs produce vivid red blooms. They have grown and multiplied for years in my garden and I always dig and pot some each fall for Christmas gifts. (Left in the garden over winter, they will bloom in May.) Each bulb will produce 2-3 stems and 4-6 flowers per stem. They grow to an average of 18-24 inches in height. Flowering time is 8-10 weeks from potting indoors, depending on temperature.
Other new plants for sale:
8 well-rooted pots of tall, fragrant pink garden phlox, $5 each
one white blooming Texas Star Hibiscus, $8
bare root “Bengal Tiger” Cannas (the yellow leaf canna for sun or part shade) $8
I still have 2 Blue Baptisia, 1 white Buckeye, 1 Indigofera shrub thatblooms May until frost, and 3” pots of blue woodland phlox and yellow creeping jenny and more.