January 21, 2008
Vindaloo Vegetables and Roasted Okra
My dad was out of town for the night, so I took advantage of the opportunity to make a dish with vegetables he claims to dislike: cauliflower and zucchini. On the side I served a vegetable neither of my parents like, okra, in the hope that I could change my mom’s mind.
I, too, once spurned cauliflower and zucchini. Ditto broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, and even peas. Some of these I came to like soon after becoming vegetarian—you know, when I stumbled upon those vegetable things—and some of these I’ve only recently begun to appreciate. What I discovered is that preparation is key. Any vegetable can be delicious (except perhaps beets, but I’m prepared to be converted); likewise, any vegetable can be bland or disgusting. Brussels sprouts, for instance, contain sulfur compounds that become bitter when the sprouts are overcooked. Eggplant, on the other hand, is bitter and rubbery when undercooked, but becomes mellow and tender when cooked properly.
I can recount a conversion story for each of these vegetables. (Indian food is responsible for cauliflower, eggplant, and peas. Try it out on your favorite skeptic.) My ultimate goal is to cook one of those conversion stories for my parents, which brought me to these recipes. Both come from FatFree Vegan Kitchen. In front you see Vindaloo Vegetables. My mom and I both liked this dish, especially after all the soups and pastas we’ve been eating. Although it’s quite tasty, I’m not sure it would convert anyone, because its main strength is that it’s loaded with yummy (I think) vegetables. The sauce is good, too, but this one is for the vegetable connoisseur.
That turned out to be even more true for the Roasted Okra. Most people who don’t like okra find it too slimy. I thought roasting would minimize this problem, but somewhere along the line it got quite slimy. Did I fail to dry it thoroughly after washing? Did I stir it too much? (I read somewhere that the more you you disturb the okra, the slimier it gets.) I’m not sure. I liked it fine, but it did not win over my mom. But I’m not giving up. I’ll do some experimenting and see what I can do about the slime. And maybe I’ll have better luck roasting cauliflower—that’s my next plot to expand my dad’s vegetable palate.