Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles for a conference one weekend. It would be an understatement to say that I was hysterically excited. Having lived in San Diego for half a year during middle school and traveled to San Francisco in recent years, I fell in love with California, the vibrant cultural diversity, the endless sunny days and the way that life can be enjoyed carelessly and slowly, one afternoon at a time. LA was the only city that I have not been to there, and I was ready to test out for myself all the wonderful descriptors that have been attached to the City of Angels.
I met up with a college friend who picked me up from the airport. That might have been my least favorite part of the journey, where I confirmed that LA had the worst traffic in all the cities and the rudest drivers and police officers. Nevertheless, a lash out of road rage and forty-five minutes on the freeway later, we arrived in Santa Monica, one of the more upscale beach communities west of LA. Everywhere I walked, it was a picture perfect view of fences with roses intertwined, cute coffee shops and a view of the beach. Everyone biked and walked around lazily, enjoying amenities like sidewalks (not always a given in Houston). It’s like injection of endorphins-instantaneous happiness.
As I’ve discovered, LA does live up to the rumor that everyone eats organic food and is on some fab diet. For dinner, my friend took me to a popular cafe in Santa Monica, where paninis sell for $15 because everything, down to the basil in the pesto sauce, is organic. Maybe it was the placebo effect, but my dinner tasted delicious yet healthy, and I felt like I lost 5 lbs by sitting in the cafe already. After dinner, we took a stroll on the boardwalk next to the beach and watched as children played in the sand against the sunset. It was a serene moment.
Of course, not everything was perfect about LA. Around the clock traffic on highways, tollways, local streets was hard to adjust to, even coming from Houston which is pretty notorious for traffic as well. LA takes it to another level, and people often plan out their evening activities and restaurant hopping according to traffic status. Also hard to ignore is the city’s hefty price tag on housing, food, gas, everything. Coming out of school into real working life has a way of giving you a rude awakening and making you stare long and hard at your empty bank account. So while I do love the city, it’s yet to be determined where life takes me in my next step.
Today the recipe that I’m sharing with you is something that I actually had in Pasadena when I visited LA. My friend who hosted me took me to his local favorite vegetarian place, and I had this fusion curry grilled vegetable bowl with quinoa. It was spicy, savory and filled me up even as a dish devoid of meat, which would have normally triggered a protest from my tummy. So here it is. You can top it on quinoa, brown rice or any other type of grain. Substitute any vegetable that’s oven friendly, think cauliflower, asparagus, eggplants. Be bold!
Curry Veggie Grill
- 1 zucchini squash
- 1 large floret of broccoli
- 1 carrot
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp Masala powder (substitute any other curry paste here)
- 1.5 Tbsp plain greek yogurt
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp water
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop zucchini into 1/2 inch slices, broccoli into small florets, carrot into 1/2 inch slices. Dice the bell peppers.
Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper over vegetables. Toss to coat evenly and spread on a foil lined baking sheet. Don’t overcrowd the veggies or else it takes longer to roast. Toss baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up a tablespoon of canola oil in a skillet. Toss in minced garlic and let it sizzle for 30 seconds then add masala curry powder, greek yogurt and ginger powder. Mix well and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Add water if consistency is too thick. It should come out to be a paste.
Once veggies are done roasting, mix curry paste in and enjoy over rice or quinoa!