Friends, I am back from vacation. It was wonderful to be away, wonderful to see the sun, feel the heat, and to spend time with Randy’s large extended family. There was a lot of travel to get through and my boys did great. If you have young children and are wondering if you will ever get on an airplane again with out a pit of despair in your stomach, let me tell you that – in my opinion – things change when your youngest turns four. I read almost a whole novel on the way out and another almost whole one on the way back. Yes, we still answered an almost endless number of “Are we there yet?” questions and their close relations, but we all had fun. Imagine that.
(By the way, if you like modern fiction – you have to pick up Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad. I absolutely loved it and marveled at how one person wrote such a diverse novel. It’s the best thing I’ve read since Let the Great World Spin – another book I can’t recommend highly enough.)
More on the trip after I take a look at the photos. For now, here is a dish that we enjoyed right before we left. This recipe is a little funny. Not funny as in ha-ha or funny tasting. Just, you know, funny. Like why would you take a bunch of summer vegetables, summer being the season where it is supposedly hot, and roast them not once but twice in the oven? Grill, yes – I understand, but roast in a 400º oven? That makes no sense to me. As it turns out, it was just fine to turn on my oven twice the day I made this dish because it was either the oven or the heater and I just refuse to turn on the heat post-summer solstice.
The recipe was also funny because you make a strange sauce (that is, nonetheless, very tasty) and just mix two hot things together in a bowl. Maybe this works for some people but it just sounded all wrong to me. I tweaked and made notes for next time, because there will be a next time. This is not a super quick dish but I think if you used the grill, which I didn’t do but recommend, and just threw all the vegetables and the sauce together in a pot and served it alongside quinoa, which I did do and recommend, it’s a very different and very delicious dinner.
I can’t give you the recipe the way I would make it next time since I haven’t made it that way, so here it is more or less the way it was written with some of my changes. Next time, I will cut the eggplant and squashes into thick slabs and grill them, then chop them into bite-size pieces. I would also grill the corn. I have several recipes that call for carrot juice and I always use Odwalla brand.
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed lightly and coarsely chopped
1 1-inch piece unpeeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, finely chopped
2 tbsp. curry powder
2½ tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups carrot juice
1½ pounds eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
About 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 pound assorted summer squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound green beans, or other long beans, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
4 ears of corn, husked
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 cups arugula
¼ cup torn fresh basil (Thai basil if you can find it)
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Drizzle in just enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan, then add the onion, carrot, lemongrass, and ginger; sauté until slightly softened but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add apple and curry powder; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, then flour and stir 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually pour in carrot juice; bring to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until sauce is slightly thickened and reduced to generous 2½ cups, about 20 minutes. Strain sauce through fine strainer set over bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place sauce back in saucepan and keep warm. (Curry sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly then cover and chill. Rewarm over medium-low heat.)
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place eggplant cubes on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat. Place squash on another large baking sheet and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Roast until squash and eggplant are light golden and tender, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes for squash and 40 minutes for eggplant. Remove baking sheets from oven and set aside.
Fill large bowl with water and ice. Cook beans in a large pot of salted boiling water until just crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on size of beans. Using tongs, transfer beans to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Maintain boiling water in same pot; add corn. Cook until corn is just tender, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut kernels off cob; discard cobs.
Place all vegetables in a large pot and heat over medium-low heat. Carefully pour the sauce over top and mix well to combine. Mix in chickpeas. Just before serving, stir in arugula and basil and stir until slightly wilted. Serve alongside quinoa, rice, or all on its own.