Yesterday I witnessed a Mexican livestock sale in action. In a small town outside Oaxaca City, I went to a weekly market for the sale of cows, horses, goats, and pigs. It was kind of exciting at first because there were so many animals, some really big and full-grown, others only a few months old. I saw the cutest little piglets and baby goats that were just ONE MONTH old! I wanted to take them all home with me.
I quickly realized, however, that many of these animals were being seriously mistreated, and I’m sure pumped with all kinds of hormones and proteins so they would get fat quickly. Supposedly, the sales were being regulated by the government that signs off on the sale saying it was legal and that that the animal is not diseased. A local Oaxacan I was with, however, told me that the government most likely doesn’t do any actual inspections of the animals’ health.
I saw animals being held and dragged by their hind legs, and I saw one pig that had been tied up so tightly around its neck that it had a very deep mark that almost looked like someone had cut its neck with a knife. Not pretty.
All of this reminded me how important it is to know where your food comes from and, if you eat animal products, to know that the animals are treated humanely. I am not always good about remembering this, because I do love my pork and cheese, but yesterday was a glaring reminder.
Needless to say, I was pretty happy to come back to a fully vegetarian (and even vegan) lunch waiting for me. This vegetarian curry is more of a stew than a classic curry because it does not have a lot of broth. I prefer it like this because it is easier to transport for lunches at work or on the go, and I can enjoy the cashew quinoa without it being drowned in a ton of liquid.
I really wanted to keep things simple for this curry so the ingredients are most likely things you have on hand, and feel free to swap in whatever vegetables you like. I like to add just a touch of light coconut milk to give this dish more flavor and a bit of a creamy texture. Many recipes call for up to 2 cups of coconut milk. You can easily freeze the leftover coconut milk in an ice cube tray and make a Peanut Butter Split Smoothie. The coconut milk is also great in place of milk in desserts or your morning coffee.
I’m the kind of person who likes to make a lot of substitutions to a recipe based on what I have on hand. Two ingredients that you really can’t leave out or substitute in this recipe are the roasted and salted cashews in the quinoa and the lime juice when serving. The crunch from the cashews balances out the texture of the cooked veggies, and the lime juice brings everything together.
Are you a vegetarian or vegan?
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 cup carrot rounds (about 3 large carrots)
- 2 heaping cups broccoli florets (about 1 medium head)
- 1 and 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 1 medium to large zucchini)
- 1 large red pepper, seeds removed and sliced thin
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup water
- large handful fresh, chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup roasted and salted cashews
- lime wedges, to serve
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, and ginger to the pot and cook until onion is translucent.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and water, cover the pot, and cook until vegetables are cooked through but not over cooked (about 10-15 minutes).
- Add the remaining ingredients, toss to combine, and cook for about 5 minutes uncovered.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Cook quinoa according to the package's instructions. When the water has evaporated, turn of the heat, keep quinoa covered and let sit for about 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the quinoa.
- Once cool, add parsley.
- Add cashews right before serving and garnish with lime wedges.
*Don't leave out the cashews in the quinoa or the lime wedges to serve- the both at a great crunch and flavor that brings the dish together.