Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Roasted Veggies and Middle Eastern Hot Green Chili Paste

Still trying to get caught up from vacation. I just returned from my childhood home in Western North Carolina to attend a funeral. Funerals are always sad, but I did get to visit with my cousins and a very good friend, all of whom I see far too infrequently. Combine that travel with training 6 days a week for the triathlon, which, by the way, is in 3 1/2 weeks, and I just can’t find a minute to get anything posted. It has taken me almost 2 weeks to get this written!

I have been cooking, though, never doubt. I’ve already made falafel a couple of times and I have put together my own recipe for that wonderful hot green chili paste we had in Israel.

Curried Roasted Veggies
We have been feasting on roasted veggies ever since we returned. No real recipe to this - just whatever fresh-from-the-garden (or market) things you have on hand. This particular night I had:

yellow squash
red and green peppers
red onion
sweet potato
canned tomatoes (best with 1-2 fresh tomatoes but I was out)
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2-3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs za’atar (optional)
2-3 tbs good curry powder
1-2 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

I have also used cauliflower, broccoli, new potatoes, butternut squash - throw it all in there! I always shoot for leftovers, ‘cause this just gets better as it sets. Talk about making your co-workers drool over your lunch......But I digress.....

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop or slice all your veggies. Place them in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.

Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray and transfer the veggies onto it. Roast for around 25-30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to make sure nothing is sticking.

Serve this with whole wheat couscous or brown rice and some schug or harrisa. Or, split open a loaf of pita bread, slather on some hummus, and stuff the roasted veggies into it. Top with as much schug as your mouth can stand. Heavenly!

Schug (Middle Eastern green chili paste)
Schug, also known as “zhuk”, is more of a method than a recipe. Best I can tell, this dish originates in Yemen. If you Google it, you will find a dozen different recipes for this. Here is how I make mine.

4-6 hot green peppers (I usually use jalapenos), seeded or not, depending on the heat you desire
2-3 tbs olive oil
2 tsp freshly ground cumin seed (toast first if desired)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tbs za’atar (totally optional)

You can add cardamom or cloves, more or less garlic, omit the lemon juice - this really is your own creation!

Dump everything into a food processor and pulse until almost smooth but not chunky. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

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