As a child, whenever my grandmother would cook Oil down, my mother would end up having to cook something different for me to eat. At the time I couldn’t understand all the provision being muddled together in a pot as opposed to being separately cooked and being able to pick and choose which ones you wanted on your plate.
It was only as I got older and dared to be adventurous in the food arena that I really appreciated this dish. I was volunteering at a Health Fair, about four years back, and when lunch time came around Oil down was on the menu (Vegan of course). So, I decided to try this dish once more. I was smitten by the flavors: the rich creamy coconut coming through, the hint of local seasonings, and the perfectly cooked ground provision (cassava, dasheen, etc).
Since then, whenever it was cooked at home, I had no qualms eating it whatsoever.
So it came as no surprise that I had a craving for it yesterday. Even though I didn’t have all of the main ground provision ingredients, I didn’t let that stop me since I still had cassava, carrots, fresh local seasonings and coconut milk of course! I also threw in some red beans for my protein.
I started by getting the red beans on to boil. The red beans I used were the dried version that I soaked overnight and the following day I stored them in the freezer so they really came in handy for this dish.
While the beans were cooking for the first 10-15 minutes, I had the carrots steaming as I really didn’t want them to be too soft in the Oil down.
Afterward, I added some Trini seasonings (local celery, chive, etc), coconut milk and sea salt. When this came back to a boil I added the cassava and cooked until tender. Just before I took the pot off I added some more celery, chive, dried ginger, onion powder, and salt. I tossed in the carrots and the dish was done and ready to be served.
Here’s the recipe which I hope you will enjoy:
2 lbs frozen cassava (you can used the frozen logs or the frozen cubes)
2 cups red beans**
14 oz coconut milk
2 1/2 cups of water
4 teaspoons dried ginger
2 stalks local celery, minced
2 stalks chive, minced
3 teaspoons granulated onion powder
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 pimento peppers, seeded and sliced
Sea Salt to taste
– Steam carrots to desired texture and set aside
– In a pot, bring to boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of red beans**. Let this cook for about 10-15 minutes*
– Next, add the coconut milk and half of the dried ginger, celery, chive, onion powder, garlic, pimento peppers and a little sea salt. Bring to boil
– Carefully add frozen cassava logs or cubes and cook until tender
– When desired tenderness is reached add in remainder of seasonings, 1/2 cup of water and carrots
– Take off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes
– Serve and enjoy
** Fresh red beans are not only more flavorful than their tinned/canned companions but they also have a lot less sodium. If you don’t have access to fresh red beans then purchase a pack of the dried version instead. Want to know how to prepare dried red beans for easy cooking? Click here
* I like my beans with some texture so I didn’t use a pressure cooker for them or cook them for too long
TIP: If the mixture is too thick you can add a little extra water until desired consistency is reached
Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and beautiful flavor. Add that to a fresh bed of lettuce or spinach and you have the best of both worlds. Here’s a great warm, roasted vegetable salad for your Meatless Mondays.
Warm Roasted Vegetable Salad
1 ½ cups chopped Broccoli
1 medium sized Eggplant/Melongene/Aubergine, chopped
1 Carrot**, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
7 cloves of Garlic, peeled
2 Pimento Peppers, sliced
1 Large Red Bell Pepper, chopped
2 Medium sized Tomatoes, chopped (Optional – I just love tomatoes, I’ll add it to almost anything)
1 TBSP chopped local celery (Optional)
1 teaspoon dried Herbs De Provence
2 teaspoons Granulated Onion powder (looks like tiny salt granules)
2 TBSP Olive Oil
Sea Salt to taste
Your choice of Lettuce or Spinach or both (washed and drained)
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
2. In a large bowl, combine chopped broccoli, eggplant, carrot, onion, garlic, pimento peppers, red bell pepper, tomatoes and local celery. Mix well.
3. Next, add dried Herbs De Provence, granulated onion powder and olive oil. Mix well.
4. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. If your pan has a tendency to burn the food you can line it with foil and then spray with non-stick cooking spray.
5. Empty seasoned vegetables onto baking sheet and spread evenly.
6. Roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-35mins.
7. When finished roasting, carefully remove from oven and set aside.
8. On a serving plate add lettuce or spinach or a mixture of both. Top off with roasted vegetables.
Serve and enjoy.
**TIP: As the carrots are the hardest and take the longest in roasting, chop these smaller.
Here’s a healthier version for those wishing to get their crispy potato fix. It has much less salt than the deep fried version popular at fast food outlets.
The potatoes are parboiled, then roasted to give it that crispiness on the outside while remaining soft and tender on the inside.
Try my Crispy Golden Roasted Potato Rounds recipe:
2 Large potatoes, washed (leave skins on)
1 teaspoon dried Herbs De Provence
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Non-stick Cooking Spray
Water for boiling
– Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
– Pot a large pot of unsalted water on to boil
– Slice potatoes into rounds about 1/4 inch thick
– Place in boiling water, cover and let cook for no more than 5 minutes. After cooking, potatoes should be soft around the edges but firm in the middle
– Strain potatoes
– In a large mixing bowl, add potatoes, dried Herbs de Provence, onion powder and olive oil. Carefully toss together until potatoes are evenly coated and a starchy coating begins to appear on the faces
– Next, sprinkle salt over mixture and toss again to ensure even distribution
– On a large baking sheet, spray non-stick cooking spray
– Evenly spread potatoes, face side down, on baking sheet
– Roast at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes
– Carefully remove from oven. Potatoes should look like this:
– Carefully flip each potato round over
– Put back in oven and continue baking for 30 minutes.
– Potatoes should now appear golden brown in color
– Carefully remove from oven and place in serving dish/tray.
Punches are a significant part of Trinidadian eating culture. Peanut, Linseed and Soursop are among the top favorites. Rich, creamy and so satisfying, some punches can even serve as a meal.
Although punches are generally made with dairy products such as milk and sweetened condensed milk, healthier non-dairy substitutions can be made that are equally rich, creamy and satisfying. These can range from non-dairy creamers such as Oatly to ready-made natural coconut milks such as KARA**.
I’ve experimented with various Vegan punch versions and met with much success. This very week, I took a stab at one that I had never made before.
I hadn’t had Soursop in a while and when I went to the market I decided to pick one up. Most times when I had Soursop it was because someone brought the fruit for me so I wasn’t sure of the pricing. When I went to the cashier ‘Mr. Soursop’ cost me about $43TT and weighed almost 4lbs!
I still decided to pick it up, blocking the price I paid from my mind. On reaching home I was craving something fruity to drink. So, I had Pineapple juice and Coconut Milk (which I almost always try to have at hand) and thought it would be interesting if I blended all three.
After my first attempt, I was hooked. With the second attempt (photo shown above) I decided to add some fresh squeezed lime juice to give it that extra bit of fresh citrusy taste.
Finally, a Soursop Pineapple and Coconut Punch was born.
Here’s how to make it:
2 cups de-seeded Soursop pulp (chilled)
1 ¼ cups unsweetened Pineapple juice (chilled)
200ml Coconut milk
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed Lime juice
– In a blender or food processor, add all ingredients and blend together until smooth
– Pour into serving glasses
– Serve and enjoy!
** When using KARA, be sure to use the prepared boxed version and not the dried version. The dried version found in the packets contains caseinate which is a milk derivate.
Chewy granola bars are a popular snack with the kids.
Most store-bought bars promise to provide heart healthy nuts and whole grains in a snack-form that kids will love. These come, however, with very high sugar content. When reading labels, normally the first three ingredients are the major components. Most of these store-bought bars have sugar in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. Then, further down the ingredient list, sugar appears at least one more time.
In the wake of an upsurge in the incidences of Juvenile Diabetes, some of the popular cereal brands promised to have less sugar. Even the popular Quaker Oats chewy granola bars at one point promised that it contained “25% less sugar” than before. I bought those a while back and still found them to be too sweet.
A short while afterward I found that I could no longer purchase the store-bought chewy granola bars at all. Not only were they too sweet, they also contained whey and other milk-derived ingredients.
So, I decided to make my own chewy granola bars at home.
After a couple experiments, and prayer, I came up with this Chewy Peanut Butter granola bar recipe. I used peanut butter as I found it to be a great binder that kept the bars together as opposed to using large amounts of syrups and sweeteners. This enabled me to keep the sugar content low.
I also used sunflower seeds, walnuts and cranberries which are great sources of dietary fibre.