“The Midwest has an inferiority complex.” That’s Shelly Westerhausen in her new cookbook, Vegetarian Heartland, talking about how people in the Midwest are quick to downplay this region. It’s just corn fields and cows, right?
Shelly is all about Midwest pride and adventuring, something Alex and I adore about her. She’s based in Bloomington, Indiana, just an hour south of us here in Indianapolis. When we first met up a few years ago, we had an instant connection, what with our Midwest roots and love for eating vegetables.
This connection made for some fabulous shared meals over the years, experimenting with local produce. One of our first collaborations with Shelly was this vegetarian brunch menu a few years ago. Alex and I made a two-potato hash with soft boiled eggs and Shelly made blood orange and quinoa muffins with crystallized ginger-thyme butter. Not a bad Midwestern meal, right? (Here’s our brunch menu.)
That summer we had a picnic down in Bloomington, Indiana. Alex and I made cucumber dill toasts and lavender lemon spritzers, and Shelly made mozzarella toasts with roasted tomatoes and grapes. (Our picnic menu is here.)
As you can see, adventuring with Shelly is inspired and colorful—and we knew her cookbook would be the same. We just received Vegetarian Heartland, and it’s everything we hoped: warm, vibrant, creative, and mouthwateringly delicious.
Shelly cooks in a similar manner to us: instead of using meat substitutes like tofu and tempeh, we prefer to use colorful vegetables, filling beans, legumes, whole grains, herbs, and spices to create vegetarian dishes. Shelly’s book is full of 100 meatless recipes in that vein. And, they’re organized by the adventures that make a weekend special: picnics, brunch, camping, and more. Not only does she show that Midwestern food can be vegetable-forward without the typical meat-and-potatoes, she also highlights the exciting Midwest landscapes: lakes, waterfalls, caves, and forests.
This coconut curry shakshuka from the book does not disappoint. It’s eggs cooked in a curry sauce, dotted with fresh basil and squeezed with lime. We served it with whole wheat naan for a delicious vegetarian brunch; for a richer brunch option, pair with our Chocolate Banana Bread. it also doubles as a light meatless dinner. The recipe is below — let us (and Shelly) know if you try it!
Listen + Giveaway: Shelly’s on the podcast! Listen to us chat about everything from vegan diner food to growing up in the Midwest. We’re also giving away a copy of Shelly’s book over on the podcast! Take a listen for more (hint, look near the end).
Order the book! Vegetarian Heartland is available here.
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this coconut curry shakshuka, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free.Print
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 6 eggs
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Lime wedges, for serving
- 6 pieces pita or naan, for serving
- In a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the bell pepper and onion and saute until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the curry powder, paprika, and ginger and saute for 30 seconds more. Add the honey, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and coconut milk; stir to combine; and simmer until the sauce thickens, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Crack the eggs and slide them into the sauce, distributing them around the pan. Gently push some of the tomato sauce over the eggs to keep them from drying out. Cover the pan and cook until the eggs are completely set, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately with lime wedges and pita or naan.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.