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Caribbean Kidney Bean and Carrot Stew with Baked Plantains

I look outside. I see snow. I look at the two week forecast. I see cold. I look at the calendar. I see early March. I look at my will to live. There is nothing to see.

Just kidding. I’m fine but really tired of winter and tired of complaining about it. You know what almost rhymes with complain, though, if you stretch it? Plantain. And you know what plantains bring me? Joy. You know what fried plantains bring me, though? A tummy ache. (Life, it’s so yin/yang.) As a coping mechanism to diminish the winter blahs a bit, I decided to make something with a cheerful and sun-drenched appeal.

This dish brings in the warming flavors I loved from our trip to Negril so long ago with a revamped plantain recipe that I could enjoy without all the oil. These will not taste like traditional plantains: they are dryer and less decadent, honestly. I am not going to pretend that they taste the same. They are still very worth it, though. In buying plantains for this purpose, look for very ripe ones that are fully mottled with brown, ideally. You will find them in Latin markets. The very ripe ones are sweeter and will create a more caramelized result. On the side or dipped in the rich, flavorful and slightly sweet stew (do dip!), it’ll almost be like you’ve been transported to a beach. A beach where it never snows. A beach where it never gets cold. A beach where nothing bad ever happens and woodland spirits frolic and there is always a cold beverage at your side with just the right amount of ice and the vegan revolution has already happened so we’re all just having a great time. I think I might need to get out more.

(By the way, don’t be intimidated by this long ingredient list: it’s a very simple recipe.)

Caribbean Kidney Bean and Carrot Stew with Baked Plantains
Serves 6

2 cups brown rice
1 cup shallots, minced
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 hot pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
15 oz. red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 t. thyme
2 t. curry powder
Salt and pepper
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
14 oz. lite coconut milk
1 cup roasted red bell pepper
2 t. maple syrup
2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
2 cups baby spinach
6 T. cashew pieces, toasted and salted or unsalted

Start your rice and preheat your oven to 375 for the baked plantains.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of vegetable broth over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 4 - 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and optional hot pepper, adding more broth by the tablespoon if the pan becomes dry. Sauté for 3 - 4 minutes and then add the carrots, red bell pepper, kidney beans, thyme, curry powder and salt and pepper as desired, sautéing for 6 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, make your sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine the crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, roasted bell pepper, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth and add to the skillet with the sauté. Simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes. Stir in the defrosted peas and cook another 5 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the baby spinach until it’s just wilted.

Meanwhile, make your plantains.

Baked Plantains

3 very ripe plantains
Olive oil or melted coconut oil

Lightly oil a flat baking sheet with a brush.

Slice the ends off the plantains and make slits through the peel of the plantain on opposite sides. Pull off the peel. Slice on the diagonal in 1/2-inch pieces. Place flat on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated over for 15 minutes. Flip and bake another 8 minutes. Salt as you like. These plantains should be served fresh from the oven.

To serve, scoop some rice, spoon some stew over that, sprinkle on some cashews and place plantains as you like. Enjoy!

© 2013, 2014, Vegan Street

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