BY: EARTHA LOWE
If you buy super-fresh, super high-quality vegetables, you can give them the minimalist treatment and they’ll be singing with flavour! You can simmer almost any vegetable by immersing it in enough boiling water to cover it, and, in most cases, that’s the easiest way to cook them. But most vegetables can also be steamed, and steaming has its advantages; It’s quicker, and the vegetable has less of a chance of becoming waterlogged. Should you decide to steam, you can use a special pot designed for steaming, or the common and convenient basket of interlocking metal that will convert almost any saucepan into a steamer. To note, however, is that vegetables are particularly sensitive to cooking methods.
Here are five guidelines for preserving the power of vegetables when preparing them:
- Cook vegetables in as little water as possible.
- Leave vegetables in contact with water for as little time as possible.
- Balance heat and water contact. If you use high heat, keep water contact to a minimum, either by steaming or baking. You can allow more water contact if low heat is used. For example, simmering is okay because you bring the water to a boil and then turn down the temperature. But never boil on high heat with direct water contact for more than a few minutes – reason being (as with the above guidelines), nutrients that dissolve in water are less likely to be lost.
- When vegetables become more vivid in their colours, with brighter greens and yellows and reds, the power of the vegetables is being enhanced. When the colours begin to pale or become lost, the power is also being lost. This is the Colour Power test.
- Think tender, not soft. Soft almost always means less healing power. Tender is what your digestive system needs with several types of vegetables, especially those with tough stems and stalks.
A great thing about vegetables is that although they are very distinctive, it would be much easier to mistake beef for lamb than it would be to mistake spinach for kale, or zucchini for broccoli.
“ilaloo” is a Rasta slang for “Callaloo”, a highly popular Caribbean dish which originated from West Africa. This green, leafy, spinach-like vegetable is typically prepared as one would prepare swiss chard or collard greens.
- 4 cups packed Callaloo, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- Scotch bonnet pepper, use as desired
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups rice, washed (for this recipe I used long grained white rice)
- On medium heat, heat the oil in a large non-stick pot. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and thyme. Place the lid on the pot and cook for 4 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the Callaloo to the pot. Close the lid and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir in with the other ingredients. Close the lid and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the coconut milk, allspice, sea salt, black pepper and scotch bonnet pepper, and just enough water to cover the rice. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes – 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked. Remove thyme sprigs and enjoy.
The ginger in this dish gives it an extra spicy kick. You can also add salted fish as a meat alternative.
Category: vegan, vegetarian
Prep and cook time: 45 minutes