Baingan-less Bharta (or One Pot South Asian Zucchini)

Baingan-less Bharta

I struggled to fit yet another arm load of zucchini and squash from my CSA weekly farm share into the vegetable drawer.  Something needed to be done about this and fast.  I knew that, before I could blink, Saturday’s CSA pickup would roll around again and I’d have no choice but to build a fort made of vegetables and fruit. 

Out came my Dutch oven.

When in doubt, I throw in almost everything veggie I have on hand, add some spices and fresh herbs, and I’m in business.  Lunch for the week.

Today, I decided to take my veggies on a culinary escapade to South Asia.  I’ve been wanting to try my hand at one of my favorite vegetarian Indian dishes – Baingan Bharta – which is a smoked eggplant dish, similar to baba ghanoush, but I had just thrown away the eggplant in the fridge which had gone bad (shameful).  A rendition with zucchini and squash?  Why not?  Perhaps it was meant to be.

I started by softening up some scallions and then threw in some minced jalapeno, garlic and ginger.  In went the zucchini and squash, then the tomatoes with all of the spices.  A little turmeric for that wonderful mellow yellow hue, smoked paprika for depth, chili powder for some extra pungency, and the madras curry powder for that unmistakable exotic dimension of flavor.  After some stewing time, I stirred in a bunch of hearty, dark leafy greens which cooked right down into the lovely mixture.  I shut off the heat, tossed in some cilantro and livened it up with a couple squeezes of lime.

I could’ve made the brown basmati rice I had in the cupboard to accompany it, but I didn’t.  I settled for a big bowl full of this “Baingan-less Bharta” with a big dollop of Greek yogurt and called it a day.  It was flavorful.  It was different.  It was light.  And, by God, I can close my vegetable drawer again.  It’s the little things.

“Baingan-less Bharta”

2 tablespoons grapeseed (or other neutral tasting oil, such as vegetable or canola)
4 scallions, chopped (whites and greens)
2 tablespoons grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced in half inch pieces
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced in half inch pieces
1 bunch kale (or other hearty green) chopped
1 bunch cilantro
Juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon madras curry powder or garam masala (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder

Soften scallions until softened over medium heat – 5 minutes.  Stir in jalapeño, ginger, garlic and cook for approx. 3-4 minutes until fragrant.  Over medium high heat, add zucchini and summer squash, stirring occasionally, and cook additional 5-10 minutes until vegetables start to soften.  Add tomatoes, turmeric, smoked paprika, chili powder, madras curry powder and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in kale and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix in cilantro and lime juice, adjust for salt to taste.  Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and pair with your grain of choice.

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