Eat Your…Purples?

Taste the Rainbow!
Lovely veggies, and a Purple Bell Pepper!

I love shopping at Whole Foods.  If I stick to the bulk bins and produce section my bill doesn’t break my bank, and the produce section at Whole Foods is a beautiful place to be.  I’ve tried things I never imagined I would eat simply because the fresh, crisp, colorful produce has drawn me in and captivated me.  I have to make quite a trek to my nearest Whole Foods but it’s worth it.  For example, my last visit to Whole Foods allowed me to discover purple bell peppers.  I’d never seen a purple bell pepper before.  Why?  Who decided the only colors sold would be green, yellow, red, and orange when deep purple was an option?  Did it taste different?  I had to know.  My mother and I bought one, took it home, and used it last night.

Dinner last night was one of those ‘what do I have to use up’ dinners.  I had some fire-roasted tomatoes left over from the bulgur/cabbage/bean bake, some carrots, an onion, and the bell pepper.  This said ‘burritos’ to me and, sure enough, I had some organic cracked wheat tortillas.  I did not have any sour cream but no matter:  I’d just make something saucy.  I have a recipe for spiced carrot taco meat.  I can’t remember where I got it:  I have it on a recipe card but didn’t copy whose it was.  If this is your recipe, please let me know and I’ll give you the credit.

Spiced Carrot Taco Meat:

5-6 carrots, shredded coarsely

1-2 TBSP nondairy milk or water (I used water)

2-3 TBSP tomato paste-substitute salsa (I used my fire roasted tomatoes)

2-3 garlic cloves (definitely 3)

1 TBSP sweet soy sauce, substitute Braggs Liquid Aminos

Cumin Powder

Chili Powder (or Cayenne)

Olive Oil

I used water to cook the onion, garlic, and the sliced carrot pictured.  While they were merrily steaming, I sliced the bell pepper and added it to the pan.  Letting all that soften, I grated the rest of the carrots.  If anyone has a tip on how to grate carrots without shooting bits of them all over the kitchen, I’d love to hear it.  I added the grated carrots and fire roasted tomatoes to the pan and then I cheated.  I had enough liquid so decided against the soy sauce and spices.  I used plain ole taco seasoning:  I sprinkled it on, gave the whole thing a stir, and turned the heat to low.  While that was cooking, I opened a can of refried beans, put them in a saucepan to heat through, and hauled my taco toppings out of the refrigerator.  Nothing fancy: I had some Daiya cheese shreds and some salsa, both of which I forgot to use.

Dinner was ready in 20 minutes.  The spiced veggies generated several compliments while they were cooking and even more compliments while they were being consumed.  And, they were amazing.  They had the chili spiked taste I expect when I eat a burrito but were slightly crunchy and a little sweet.  The can of refried beans added the creamy texture I wasn’t going to get from sour cream and a punch of protein.  Unfortunately, the awesomeness of the purple pepper was lost during cooking.  Everything took on a slightly orange tinge from the carrots.  I’ll have to get another one and try it in a salad or veggie wrap.  Still, this was a great mix and an idea that goes filed away into the what to make when I’m tired and want something fast file.  I’m amazed at how versatile vegetables are: my meat-eating family didn’t miss the meat and using a vegan meat substitute wasn’t necessary.  I could have made the meal healthier by making my own refried beans but it had been a long day and I still had grocery shopping to do.  No oil, not a great deal of fat…I think Dr. McDougall would be proud.

Where's the Purple Pepper?
Where’s the Purple Pepper?
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