On Monday, I committed to completing the Food Revolution Ambassador monthly challenges on a more regular basis. Here I am today, with my second challenge of the month (I know, it’s the last day of July but better late than never, right?) – we were charged with creating a healthy recipe for a family of four on a budget of $10USD or €15.
I’ve been doing a little bit of recipe development this summer, although not as much as if I had had a working oven in my Paris rental apartment (today’s the day folks – “en principe” the oven will be fixed after nearly 4 weeks of not working and I will proceed to bake my heart out in the 2 days before I head to the South West of France again!) and one of the projects I have been working on involved vegan/ vegetarian recipes. Which is perfect for me since, when I am on my own in France, I eat vegetarian nearly all the time (I can’t claim to eat vegan though – because, well, cheese!) but I was really interested in exploring some vegan options too. When my good eats-vegan-a-lot-of-the-time friend Monica was in Paris a couple of weeks ago, we brainstormed a few ideas – most of which involved me saying “well that would be better with cheese” and Monica assuring me I wouldn’t miss the cheese at all.
I had a lot of ideas as did Monica but many of those involved the oven so our choices were somewhat limited and in the end, we were simply inspired by the local produce. If you looked in our baskets you would have seen a little mélange of typical French ratatouille ingredients alongside avocados, coriander (cilantro) and green onions (scallions) – it’s what I’m going to call a summer chili – it combines all the ingredients you’d normally have in a ratatouille (including eggplant, this is the game-changing ingredient as it adds the “meatiness” that a vegetarian chili sometimes lacks) with the twist being the very Mexican flavours of coriander, cumin and avocados. Because a chili can sometimes be very one-dimensional texture-wise, we’ve added toasted pumpkin seeds for some crunch. I also served this with plain corn-tortilla chips on the side which I really liked as well. If it’s cooler weather where you are, Monica has a wonderful looking vegan cornbread on her site that I’m dying to try. When I have an oven…
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ green bell pepper, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- hot chill pepper (jalapeño, for example), to taste, minced
- 1 large zucchini, chopped into rounds, then quartered into cubes
- 1 eggplant, chopped into cubes approximately the same size as the zucchini
- 6-8 tomatoes, chopped into cubes
- 1 cup red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup fresh cilantro/ coriander, chopped
- For garnish:
- 2 ripe avocados
- 4-6 green onions, finely sliced
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- toasted pumpkin seeds
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
- Add the cumin and coriander and stir to thoroughly coat the onions and garlic with the spice mixture.
- Add the peppers, zucchini and eggplant, stir well to combine, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomatoes, kidney beans corn and cilantro/coriander stir well, then cover and cook for approximately 15 minutes.
- NB: the cook time will depend on how big you have chopped your vegetables - if they are larger cubes/ chunks, you will need to cook it longer (at a lower heat). I like my veggies a little on the al dente side, rather than mushy, so I tend to cook this less, especially if I am not eating it that day as when you re-heat it, the vegetables will cook more.
- Serve the chill in a bowl topped with cubes of avocado, the green onions, cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds scattered over the top.
- For some extra crunch, serve with plain corn tortilla chips on the side.
Thanks to Jennifer, Monica and Lindsey who have all been willing taste testers for my recipes this summer! Since I don’t have a family of four to cook for, friends are essential in the recipe development process!
This meal was enough for six helpings – or four if you are really hungry! If you serve it in tortillas with guacamole, it will go even further. In any case, it’s a lovely meal for warm or cool weather, made with easy-to-find (in most parts of the world) ingredients that came in at under 15€. Plus, it tastes even better as leftovers the next day!
Did I miss the cheese? Not at all? The avocado provides enough creaminess that you really won’t need any cheese. Promise. And what to do with leftovers? How about these stuffed peppers I wrote about over on JamieOliver.Com?
What’s your favourite healthy meal on a budget?
Many of you will know I’m in France for most of the summer. While I will be slowly blogging about things I do here, the best way to keep up with me will be by following my photos which you can do on my Summer 2014 set on Flickrfollow or Instagram where I am @eatlivtravwritefollow (if you don’t have the app on your phone you can still check out the photos online.
Edited to add:
Thrilled to announce I’ve been chosen as the “Blog of the Month” over on the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution site!
Click here to read the article!