I love the challenge of the CSA. Every Wednesday we get a bag of vegetables from a local farm and in our case it is supplemented with grains, fruit, legumes and eggs. You have a rough idea of what will be in the bag–and what won’t–but there’s always a surprise. It’s like your own little Iron Chef competition at home.
This week the challenge was on. A grapefruit sized rutabaga was in the bag. This long maligned poster child for winter vegetables has a simple elephantine beauty.
I knew it had the ability to be delicious, but it wouldn’t be as simple as slicing a fresh summer tomato and serving it.
We also received a bag of Mung Beans. These tiny legumes resemble green peppercorns. Fans of the TV show The Office will remember that the creepy character Creed keeps Mung beans in his desk drawer and “they smell like death’. Well I think Creed was sprouting them and these were dried. They did not smell like anything. The next morning before work I put the mung beans in water to soak. I was determined to make these unlikely ingredients into something my family would enjoy.
I was inspired by a note left at the CSA pick-up site about an Indian recipe for mung beans. I got to thinking that these beans, and the rutabaga could become the foundation for a great curry style dish. I also happened to have some Indian Chapati Bread I had purchased which needed only to be heated on a dry skillet and it was delicious!
I started with some basic Indian spices. Turmeric, black mustard seeds, and whole cumin seeds, about a teaspoon of each. It’s such a wonderful start because the spices look like the beginning of a work of art with their earthen colors and warm complimentary aromas.
I heated oil in a sauce pan and cooked these spices in the oil for about a minute until I could hear the seeds popping like popcorn. (Note: Put the lid on the pan!)
The mung beans could easily be replaced with lentils, or really any dried bean (and lentils would not require soaking). The rutabaga likewise could be replaced by any firm strong vegetable such as turnips or beets. I hold this up as one more reason why I’m a fan of the CSA. I doubt that I would have ever walked into the grocery store and bought these ingredients, and yet they were delicious, in season, and locally available.