Getting Out of a Kitchen Rut

Between a failed vacation, a semi-broken car, and getting ready for school; along with my regular full time job, I have been feeling out of sorts in terms of healthy eating.  And I’ve been a little bit absent from the kitchen.  Over the course of the last week, I’ve put over 350 miles on my car, which has meant a lot of dining out.  Tonight, I was extremely tempted to call for take out, again…but I was determined to get out of my kitchen rut, and just dive back in. Best way to do that, at least for me, is crank the tunes and get cracking! My personal favorite cooking music is the Van Morrison station on Pandora.  Give it a try some time.  It’s fun music to cook to.

Knowing I had a few pieces of produce left over from my weekly box; zucchini, yellow squash, white eggplant, and broccoli to be exact, I made a quick trip to Fat Free Vegan (another one of my favorite vegan recipe sites) to see what I could come up with.  I landed on Roasted Vegetables with Tomato Charmoula because I had most of the ingredients in my pantry, and could get away with a less than $10 bill at Whole Foods to add what was missing.

Looking back on the process, I’m glad I didn’t realize how much prep and coordinated logistics I would need to dedicate to this process.  I might not have even attempted it considering the mood I was in when I got home. If you have a normal sized kitchen, this would probably be a snap.  My space is just a bit small for the amount of bowls and burners I needed to use. That being said, it was worth the effort. The dish turned out pretty well, though I think I will tone down the cayenne pepper next time. A little too spicy for me. But overall, I loved the flavor.  I know I’ve mentioned I don’t really care for tomatoes. However, a lot of the recipes I’ve tried lately have added spice to a tomato-based sauce, and I think this is the way I need to go in the future. Less sweet and more spice :-)

Here’s my take on Fat Free Vegan’s Roasted Vegetables with Tomato Charmoula

Charmoula (sauce):
Apprx.¾ cup crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
Approx ½ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon minced ginger root (or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 leek – white part chopped finely


1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (peeling optional)
½ crown broccoli, including stems, chopped roughly in large pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups chickpeas (this is one regular sized can), drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Combine the charmoula ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Preheat oven to 400F and lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread the vegetables in the dish, add the sauce, and toss well to coat. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to ensure all pieces are coated.

Roast until vegetables are tender, about 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Remove the vegetables from the oven. Bring 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to a boil, and add it to the vegetable pan, stirring and scraping the pan well to incorporate all of the seasonings.



1 cup quinoa – mix of red and white
2 cups vegetable broth
Two pinches saffron, crushed
1 clove garlic, minced

***Prep the quinoa ingredients right after you place the veggies in the oven to roast. And then, start cooking about 25 minutes after the veggies have been cooking.  This way everything will be done at about the same time.

Rinse the quinoa well. Put it in a medium-sized saucepan along with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until all water is absorbed and grain is tender, about 15 minutes. Fluff and serve. (Note, the quinoa turned out a bit dry and bland, so I added cumin, salt and olive oil when plating).

We all find ourselves in ruts sometimes. The important thing is to recognize it, and make the choice to pull yourself out.  Like I said, Van Morrison does wonders for me.  Of course, with the week I’ve had, I couldn’t resist stopping at the Bleeding Heart Bakery in Oak Park, to top off my meal with a vegan cupcake :-)

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