Let’s celebrate Meatless Monday with this fantastic Vegetable Curry
Ellie Krieger, the host of Public Television’s “Ellie’s Real Good Food”, is an expert on healthy eating. A graduate of Cornell and Columbia Universities, she holds degrees in Clinical Nutrition from both. Her claim to fame is helping people find the sweet spot where ‘delicious’ and ‘healthy’ intersect. Here, Ellie takes her inspiration from South India. The population there is overwhelmingly vegetarian. So this curry is full of Indian flavors—coriander and cumin, turmeric and ginger, cinnamon, and coconut milk all blended together in a rich golden sauce. According to Ellie, the anti-oxidant powers here are astonishing. Backed up with facts like “a half teaspoon of cinnamon has more antioxidants than a serving of raspberries”, you’ll have to agree. This is not an overly spicy dish. That being said, if you leave out the cayenne pepper, you’ll have something with little heat and incredible flavor in every bite.
What exactly is Meatless Monday and where did it come from?
Believe it or not, Meatless Monday, a campaign to lower overall meat consumption, goes back to World War 1. Originally on Tuesday, not Mondays, it all started with Herbert Hoover long before he became our 31st President. He successfully evacuated 120,000 Americans trapped in Europe when World War 1 was declared. Hoover was then asked to help feed the people of Belgium when the Germans overran the country. Following that success, President Woodrow Wilson asked him to head up the wartime Food Administration. When the US entered the war, our allies were left starving. Their farmland was turned into battlefields. Women, children, and the elderly had to tend the remaining land themselves. To care for struggling allies and our soldiers overseas, Hoover and company coined the phrase “Food will win the war”. Instead of rationing, the campaign asked US citizens to cut back on meat, fat, sugar, and wheat on Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays.
Meatless Mondays make a comeback.
Although Wheatless Wednesdays fell by the wayside, Meatless Tuesday switched Mondays. This effort was spearheaded by an adman, Sid Lerner in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Now a global movement, the newer version supports health, nutrition, the environment, and animal welfare. Monday was chosen because it’s generally viewed as the day most people are most likely to start new diets or give up bad habits. It’s been surprisingly successful just as it was during World War 1. You’ll find a surprising number of notable restaurants and famous chefs offering Meatless Monday menus. Here’s today’s Meatless Monday recipe followed by some other vegetarian dishes to enjoy.
Ellie Kreiger's South Indian-style Vegetarian Curry
This wonderful curry is full of Indian flavors—coriander and cumin, turmeric and ginger, cinnamon and coconut milk all blended together in a rich golden sauce.
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (1 Tbs.)
- 1 Tbs. ground coriander
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small cauliflower, broken into 1-1/2-inch florets (about 4 cups)
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
- 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (about 1 cup)
- One 15-1/2-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4 oz. baby spinach (about 4 lightly packed cups)
- 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
- Step 1 In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium (or medium-low if necessary) and cook until the onion is richly browned, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne
- Step 2 Stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices. Add the tomato paste and stir until well blended with the aromatics, about 1 minute.
- Step 3 Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Step 4 Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Raise the heat to medium-high and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, and zest
- Step 5 Cook until the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Serve garnished with cilantro.