L TV: How To Make A Badass, Healthy Meal From Your Bodega

02/21/2012 3:05 PM |


There’s no way that a diet of well-advertised beer, cigarettes and candy should sustain a person, but many people rely on bodegas for their primary sources of food. In some Brooklyn neighborhoods, bodegas make up more than 80 percent of the available food options, especially where supermarkets are absent.

Because rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in these areas were so disproportionately high, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene started an initiative in 2006 to get bodegas to start stocking healthier items. Only, change is a slow and painful process, and most bodegas still lack the basics. That’s why, for our DIY feature, we called on Brooklyn personality Ella Nemcova, nutritional consultant, founder of vegan catering company The Regal Vegan, and maker of hit spread faux gras™, to show us how to make something reasonably healthy under these limitations.

What Nemcova came up with was nothing short of badass bodega gourmet: A bean, beet and plantain stew in coconut milk sauce, served with tortillas and an surprisingly fresh-tasting salad for stuff that came out of a can. You can watch Nemcova’s tips for shopping and cooking healthy from a bodega and consult the recipe after the jump.

Badass Bodega Meal for 4

Plantain Chipotle Stew

8 Corn Tortillas
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups of cooked kidney beans
1 ripe plantain
½ small can tomato paste
1 chopped, canned chipotle chile in adobo with 1 TBS of its sauce (adjust spice to taste)
2 TBS cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped, reserving 1 TBS
2 cups of brown rice
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
½ lime or lemon
2 cups of rice
½ small can of sliced beets
salt and pepper to taste

Can Salad

I small can of spinach
1/2 can of sliced beets
½ tsp of lemon zest
½ tsp of grated ginger
Juice of half a lime/lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Start the rice. If you’re using brown, you’ll need 2:1 water to rice and about 40 minutes in a pot (unless you have a pressure cooker). White rice is 1½:1 water to rice, and takes about 15 minutes. Peel the plantain by slicing off the top and bottom nibs, then thinly down one side. Once peeled, slice into small chunks and drop in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Saute the chopped garlic in a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil for 30 seconds, then add your onions. Turn the heat to medium. When the onion has a little golden color, add the chipotle chile, coconut milk, and tomato paste. Reduce heat. Stir to combine. Cook for a minute or two and add the cooked beans, cooked plantain and a few chopped beets. Meanwhile, toast the cumin seeds in a hot pan and grind in a mortar and pestle (or use a clean coffee grinder). Add one tablespoon to the bean & veg mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook together till the sauce is thick, about 5 minutes. Toast the tortillas over a flame, flipping frequently to prevent burning. Serve two tortillas per person, with a big dollop of the chipotle plantain stew inside. Make a super-fast salsa topping by chopping the tomato, adding lime/lemon juice, the reserved onion and some salt. Combine them in a small bowl and serve atop the tortillas.

Once the rice is done, scoop it into a small cup to set, and then tap it onto a plate. Sprinkle with ground cumin.

Chop the remaining can of beets and roughly chop the spinach. If you find any fresh greens, please, use them instead. Add the zest, lemon juice, ginger and a dash of salt. Combine and serve in a small ramekin on the side. Buen Provecho! — Ella Nemcova

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