22 Oct 2012
Vegan MoFo 2012 – Chloe’s Caribbean feast
Sunshine on a platter in no time
Week four begins and I’m back on my theme of making new recipes and ignoring old favourites. For this meal, I’m turning to Chloe Coscarelli’s latest book for some Caribbean flavours.
I bought Chloe’s Kitchen a few months back. It’s a beautiful, full-colour cookbook packed with photos and I love looking through it. However, I’ve only made a few things to date and unintentionally, my choices follow an Italian theme.
I’ve cooked the Ooh-La-La Lasagna, including the marinara sauce. It was a bit of work as lasagna always is, but very much worth it. I actually made this for my mum when she visited for lunch. Mum can sometimes be a bit of a picky eater but when I served this, she came back for seconds and took leftovers home.
I’ve also made the Penne alla Vodka with the Best Garlic Bread in the World and both are exceedingly good.
The Penne alla Vodka is now a firm favourite and we’ve made it about half a dozen times. Having never cooked with vodka in tomato-cream sauce before I’m still amazed at how much it enhances the flavour. The pasta sauce takes about 25 minutes to make with little chopping and few ingredients. We’ve been spoilt by this recipe and can’t go back to using pasta sauce in a jar!
The Best Garlic Bread in the World is indeed the best homemade vegan garlic bread I’ve tried, but it’s an indulgence I’ve only had once ;)
But enough reminiscing! Time to turn my attention to a new recipe… After all, this is what my Vegan MoFo theme is about.
I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything Caribbean-inspired, so I’ve chosen a colourful platter of black beans, rice and spiced veges as a good sampler.
Caribbean Vegetables with Coconut Rice and Plantains
There are four components to this recipe: coconut rice, Caribbean vegetables, cumin-lime black beans and caramelised plantains.
At first I thought this recipe was going to take ages and be quite complex but once I prepared my ingredients, most of the dishes came together quite quickly.
I started the rice first, choosing to use brown basmati instead of white. The rice was cooked as usual, but with the addition of coconut milk in place of some of the water.
While the rice was cooking, I steamed up chopped sweet potato and broccoli for the the Caribbean vegetables.
The cooked vegetables were tossed with jerk spices but as I didn’t have any pre-mixed seasoning, I used the suggested combination of paprika, cinnamon, thyme and cayenne.
With the first two dishes underway, I moved on to the beans. Using canned black beans made the preparation extra fast. Basically half the black beans are blended with vege stock and then simmered back with remaining beans and spices. This dish took less than 10 minutes from start to finish.
By this stage I was impressed with the speed at which this seemingly complex meal was coming together.
The final step was caramelising the plantains. I’d purchased unripe, green plantains the week prior and they’d since turned yellow with black spots.
After peeling and slicing one plantain quite thinly, the slices were shallow fried in oil. The recipe specifies canola but I used coconut oil instead. I drained these on paper towel to try to keep them crispy.
Dinner was finished in around an hour and I served everything up on a large platter with slices of lime. I sprinkled shredded coconut on the rice and coriander on the beans.
I really enjoyed the variety of each dish and flavour combinations. I particularly liked the cumin-lime black beans and simplicity of the vegetables. Chloe’s recipe has reminded me to toss steamed veges with spices more often.
Although the plantains were a lovely, sweet contrast, they were a little on the oily side for me. Next time, I’d opt for a healthier alternative and try a side of grilled pineapple or mango salsa.
Overall this was a deceivingly fast and delicious dinner. The leftovers will be quite versatile, making a great wrap-filling or cold salad.