In looking at other cultures that use few dairy products in their cooking, I thought it would be fun to develop some recipes using ingredients commonly found in Caribbean cooking.
Like my last post on Chicken-free Tagine, this is not an authentic, traditional recipe or based on the cooking-style of any particular island. I’ve had the good fortune to have traveled to a number of countries in the Caribbean, and have tasted a lot of great dishes (particularly those at my favorite resort, Pirates Point on Little Cayman) – so I’ve developed a good sense of the flavors that go into Caribbean recipes.
I started by considering the ingredients I had on hand. I had some aging organic sweet potatoes and peppers that I needed to use up, and my pantry yielded white beans, coconut oil, tomatoes, chilis, ginger, allspice, cumin . . . hey, I could almost feel the warm ocean breezes! The stew was so colorful and simple to assemble in my slow cooker, I knew I could prepare the rice at the last minute. I added the Quorn Chik’n Tenders and the slivered organic spinach in the last few minutes of cooking the stew while I quickly made my vibrant Caribbean Yellow Rice with turmeric and organic green peas.
A couple of words on two ingredients about which you may be less familiar: coconut oil and ginger.
Nutiva makes great organic coconut oil, and you’ll notice in the store that there are several types. I used the Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil in both the stew and the rice because I wanted the sweet flavor and aroma of coconut to be more pronounced. On the other hand, if you want to be a bit more subtle, try using Nutiva Refined Organic Coconut Oil. Just because it is “refined” doesn’t mean it is less healthy than the extra virgin product. Both are organic, non-GMO, and non-hydrogenated. The difference is that you can cook with the steam-refined product at a higher temperature, and because the flavor is less pronounced, it works well in dishes when you don’t want to detect the smell and flavor of coconut. (Subtlety is good sometimes, right?)
The other product that may be hard to find (particularly in the winter) is good quality fresh organic ginger. In the spring, summer, and early fall, I’m usually able to get good quality fresh ginger (with the leaves still on) at the farmers market, but in the winter, I’m stuck with brown knobby looking tubers of questionable provenance. So, in the winter, I usually keep a couple of jars of minced or grated organic ginger from The Ginger People in my pantry. Sometimes I use the minced ginger, and sometimes I use the grated ginger, depending on what I’m making – which is why I usually have a jar of each kind. After opening, the jars go in the fridge, which makes it super convenient to get just a teaspoon of either minced or grated ginger quickly for a recipe. And, given the number of knobs of mediocre (or rotten) ginger that I’ve thrown away every winter, the price tag isn’t exorbitant (about $4 or $5 at Earth Fare) for 6.7 ounces of ready-to-use organic ginger in each jar. (Quick tip: If you can’t find it in a store near you, let your fingers do the walking on the internet and check out AbesMarket.com, where you can find 12 jars for $36.99 – perhaps you can interest a couple of your friends in doing a bit of bulk buying?)
I know I’ve taken an extreme liberty by calling the stew vegan because of the small amount of rehydrated egg whites that Quorn uses in the Chik’n Tenders. The inclusion of the egg whites don’t personally bother me, because I’m willing to occasionally eat eggs or products that contain eggs. (Remember, I’m only 80% vegan!)
But I know that many of you are strict vegans and do care, and it may keep you from making this great, easy dish. If the rehydrated egg whites bother you, just eliminate the Quorn Chik’n Tenders (which would be a shame because you’ll be cutting down the protein), or substitute a vegan chicken product in the recipe.
BTW, did you know that Quorn-UK makes a vegan product called Pieces, which eliminates the egg white, and uses potato protein and pea fibre, so that it is 100% vegan? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Quorn UK’s vegan products were readily available in the US?
I would love to be able to try Pieces. Quorn makes some of the most delicious and believable plant-based protein products on the market. I hope that Quorn will consider sharing some products with us Yanks that vegans in the UK and Europe have been enjoying for years.
Perhaps more of us need to ask Quorn to consider expanding its US product line to include more vegan products!
- 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- ½ green pepper, chopped
- ½ red pepper, chopped
- 1 10-ounce can organic diced tomatoes and green chilies
- 4 medium organic sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cite-sized pieces
- 2 19-ounce cans organic cannellini beans, including the liquid
- 1 teaspoon grated organic ginger
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon organic allspice
- 12 teaspoon organic ground cumin
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ cup organic vegetable stock
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 12-ounce package Quorn Meatless & Soy-Free Chik'n Tenders, frozen
- 2 cups organic spinach leaves, sliced into thin slivers
- 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1½ cup organic jasmine rice
- 2¾ - 3 cups boiling water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup frozen organic green peas
- Heat a large skillet (or your Cuisinart Cook Central slow cooker, or another multi-function slow cooker in which you can sauté) and add the coconut oil. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped peppers.
- Transfer to slow cooker if you were using a skillet. Add the tomatoes and chills, sweet potatoes, beans, ginger, brown sugar, allspice, cumin, bay leaves, stock, sea salt and pepper.
- Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
- Add the Quorn Chik'n Nuggets and the slivered spinach. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the bay leaves and serve with Caribbean Yellow Rice.
- To make the Caribbean Yellow Rice, heat a 3 quart saucepan, and melt the coconut oil.
- Sauté the onion until translucent, add the garlic, and then turmeric.
- Add the rice and sauté for 2 minutes. Make sure the rice is uniformly yellow.
- Add the boiling water and sea salt. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the frozen green peas and cook 6-8 more minutes.