I have a very clear memory of looking at the elementary school lunch menu and seeing “refrigerator clean-out” on the calendar. I think I usually managed to pack a sack lunch on those days. I’ve just never been a big fan of any meal that scrapes the bottom of anything and calls it “dinner”.
That said, I am fully sympathetic that things in the kitchen just start to run out towards the end of the month. We eat our share of beans and rice around here, but I can only listen to the sighing of my five-year-old so many times before being driven to find something a bit more……fulfilling.
This recipe fits the bill in our house. Not only is it inexpensive, but it also cooks in the crock pot, a popular piece of equipment in my kitchen. It’s not quite as simple as most slow cooker recipes where you just throw everything in a pot and cook it to death. But this one pays you back in terms of flavor. And when I’m looking for something that doesn’t just say “This is the best I could do with what’s in the pantry”, I’m willing to make that investment.
I’m presenting this recipe the way it’s printed. You can turn it into true-vindaloo and spice it up with some minced chiles, if that’s your schtick. But know that we left out the cayenne and it was still great.
We were lucky to have some leftover store-bought chutney in the fridge, so we served up our vindaloo with a mixture of tomato chutney and mango chutney. We also finished off the last of the Indian Pickles that I put up in 2009 when we had cucumbers rolling out of our garden, a tasty mix of cucumbers and onions pickled with mustard and curry. And, of course, the kiddos wanted some plain yogurt on theirs because they can do that dairy thing.
Once we’d all piled on our toppings dinner was looking quite indulgent indeed, and not-so-much like the end of the month. We balanced all that indulgence with a heaping spoonful of brown rice. No sense in getting too carried away.
Course: Main (Vegetarian)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar or honey, or agave
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 small carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 small green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 cups small cauliflower florets
- 2 small zucchini thinly sliced
- 1 1⁄2 cups red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 6 ounces tomato paste , blended with 1 ½ cups hot water
- salt and pepper
- 1⁄2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- In a blender or food processor (or with a mortar and pestle if you’re really authentic) combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic, ginger, brown sugar, spices and vinegar. Process until smooth and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the crock pot on high. Add the onion and carrots, cover, and cook until softened. The time for this varies depending on your crock pot, but usually takes about 10-15 minutes in mine. If you need it done in a hurry, you can sauté the veggies in a pan on the stove top and then transfer it, but then you have another dish to wash.
- Add the spice paste to the veggies in the crock pot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper, cauliflower, zucchini and kidney beans. Pour in the tomato paste mixture, season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
- About 10 minutes before serving, stir in the peas and allow to heat through for about 10 minutes.