Tag Archives: snap peas

Green Thai Curry

Green Thai Curry

This green Thai curry is a staple. Once you make it, you will crave it. It has also successfully proven to self-professed tofu-haters that tofu shouldn’t be pronounced with a wrinkled nose. (Try not to gloat when they go for seconds!) The green Thai curry paste is made fresh and is very easy: just throw everything into a food processor. The heady combination of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and heat from the hot chilis (to taste) win me over every time. The fresh cilantro is a must – it brings spring to the dish. I prefer ginger in this recipe to galangal as I think it matches better with the acid from the lemongrass and lime juice, but that is completely my preference. The best part about this recipe is that even though the list of ingredients looks very long, you probably have most of it already in your pantry, and since most of it goes into the food processor, clean-up is easy and cooking time is much shorter than you’d expect. This curry goes well with rice or vermicelli, but I won’t stop you from eating it straight up like soup!
After many trials and numerous iterations of this dish, I have compiled these rules of thumb for guaranteed success:

1) Sautéing the fresh curry paste makes all the difference. Like dry roasting spices for Indian curries, this is when the lemongrass and heat really start to come out. Once fragrant, you will have to have serious restraint from not eating the sauce as is!

2) When you add the tofu to soak up all the curry paste flavour, add the eggplant as well. Double the flavour with two different textures!

3) Usually I add all the coconut milk to the food processor to help the paste come together. If you have a better food processor than I, you could probably proceed with the recipe as-written. I find though that if I don’t add the extra liquid, I could do a better job making a paste by chopping things finely than my food processor.

4) If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, I’ve recently discovered that almond milk makes an amazing substitute! I am sure curry purists around the world have just gotten very angry with me, but when you need some Green Thai Curry a little matter of no coconut milk won’t stop me! This successful trial makes me believe that rice milk or hemp milk would also make for excellent substitutions.

5) The best suited vegetables for this dish are:
– Eggplant: A must!
– Zucchini: So lovely and tender
– One or more crunchy green vegetable such as green beans, snap peas, bell pepper, or asparagus
– A leafy green such as bok choy (spinach will also work)
– Cherry tomatoes: Or as I like to call them, Tomato Bombs of Flavour.

6) Add the cherry tomatoes at the very very end – with your greens. The “cherry bomb” in your mouth is so worth the restraint!

7) If you can find them, the kaffir lime leaves are a must. I store them in the freezer, and use as needed. They will transform your South Asian dishes from “really good” to “how can it get any better?!?!?”. They are the curry leaves of Asian cuisine. Add them with the green curry paste, and the lime flavour is heightened further!

This dish will turn your kitchen into a little taste of Thailand with its aromas and taste. Quick to make and quicker to devour, this is a classic!

The recipe can be found here: Vegetarian Green Thai Curry


Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry
This particular version highlights eggplant, asparagus, bell pepper, and spinach

Rarely a week goes by without a simmering pot of curry. This is my stand-by no-fail recipe, with infinite possibilities of vegetables, protein, and spicy level. The basic components are: tomato based curry sauce, meaty eggplant simmered in the sauce, greens for the eggplant to rest between, and a wide assortment of vegetables – whatever you have on hand that day and/or need to use before they go bad. The veggie selection is easily changed to reflect the season/mood. Sick and tired of cauliflower and squash in March? Then throw in some greenery, peppers, and cute cherry tomatoes. Super stoked that it’s squash season in September? Butternut squash, spinach, peppers, and eggplant is a combination that cannot be beat! If you like, you can throw in your choice of protein – lentils, chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh have all been winners in the past. Spice level can be adjusted to taste preference, and the recipe is easily scaled back or quadrupled depending on how many mouths you are feeding that day. This is my Indian “chili”. Always delicious, always a winner.

The recipe is more of a guideline, developed over the years by throwing things in the pot and trying to remember what tasted the best. Take these guidelines and make them your own – tweak as you like, and enjoy your efforts!

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece fresh ginger, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (if you like the spice, don’t seed the peppers!)
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt, to taste
4 cups of your ‘meaty’ veggies: eggplant, squash, potato, etc.
4 cups diced tomatoes, or 1 (28oz.) canned tomatoes (Note: Whole canned tomatoes are also nice – rip them apart with your hands when you add them to the curry)
4 cups water
2 cup of your ‘crunch’ veggies: asparagus, bell pepper, snap peas, green beans, …
~10 cups fresh greens: spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, or kale
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot, heat olive oil and add mustard seeds. Sauté until seeds start to pop – cover pot with a lid to prevent seeds from escaping!
2) Add onion. Sauté until translucent and beginning to brown, ~7min. If pan looks dry, add a splash of water.
3) Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sauté ~1min.
4) Add the spices. Stir to coat and lightly toast.
5) Add the ‘meaty’ veggies. Stir to coat with spices and lightly sear.
6) Add the tomatoes, water, and ‘crunch’ veggies. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and partially cover, simmering ~5min.
7) Add the greens in handfuls, stirring as you go. Cook until greens are bright green and wilted. (If you are adding cherry tomatoes, add them at this point).
8) Turn off heat, and add cayenne pepper. Adjust all other seasonings to taste.
9) Serve hot with rice, and/or your favourite Indian flat bread.


Eggplant Tagine

Tagines, like curries, are a staple. A tagine is a slow-cooked stew hailing from Morocco. If you are lucky enough to have the kitchen space, they are to be cooked in a special clay casserole dish that acts like a mini-convection oven. The dome of the lid traps the steam and recirculates it within the dish for slow-roasted casserole perfection. I am limited in my galley kitchen however, and make due with a stock pot. Still delicious and worth making every time!

Moroccan tagines are sweeter than Indian curries, and generally less spicy. They often feature cinnamon with some citrus notes, adding a surprise twist to the cumin/coriander/turmeric “base” curry spice mix. Raisins or other dried fruit such as apricots (especially when the citrus is orange) are also common in the stew. Generally served with fancy (or standard) couscous, they are a filling meal that will transform your kitchen to a market in Casablanca. This particluar tagine is my base recipe, however there are a multitude of variations of this recipe that can be made based on what you have on hand. Components that you must have to consider it a tagine include: a meaty vegetable such as eggplant, a legume, a tomato-based sauce, and a spice combination that includes cinnamon and orange juice or lemon juice. Purists would also insist that rasins need to be added, but as I hate raisins I leave those out – I leave that decision to your disgretion.

Tagines are a nice change of pace from the Indian curries, but if you want an exotic stew and can’t decide on which curry to make, split the difference and slurp up a hearty warming tagine!

Eggplant Tagine

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered and sliced thin
1 cup carrots, sliced into ½” pieces on the bias
1-2 serrano chilis seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
5 cups water, vegetable broth, or a combination
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
several dashes pepper
1 cup dry red lentils

1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and chopped into ¼” pieces
1 eggplant, cubed into ¼” cubes or sliced into quarter moons (like zucchini)
1 cup green beans, cut into 1” pieces
2 cups grape tomatoes
½ cup raisins (I never add raisins because I dislike them, but traditional tagines include them!)
1 tsp salt
1 bunch spinach, torn into pieces½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
3-4 tbsp. lemon juice, or juice of one orange
lemon wedges to serve

Add-in/Substitution Suggestions:

Legumes: Red lentils give the stew a creamy base, but green lentils or chickpeas are also delicious. Or a combination of all! You want to end up with ~3 cups cooked legumes when you are done.

Vegetables: Green beans, sugar snap peas, asparagus, grape tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, butternut squash, and bell pepper would all be fantastic. For a double-tomato broth, add 1 (28oz.) can whole or diced tomatoes to stew with liquid.

Greens: Spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens …

Directions:

1) In large stockpot, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent
2) Add carrots and chili and sauté ~3min.
3) Add garlic and ginger, sauté ~2min.
4) Add cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Stir and add water/vegetable broth, tomato paste, cinnamon, bay leaves, pepper, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 20min.
5) Add all veggies except greens, raisins, and salt. Simmer 15min.
6) Add the greens, cilantro, and mint. If all the greens don’t fit in the pot, add in batches and stir until greens are wilted.
7) When all greens are wilted, turn heat off, stir in lemon juice, and let sit for 10min (or as long as you can last!)
8) Serve over couscous, tabouli, or with some flatbread.

Update: Winter Tagine

During the winter months, I found myself craving this savoury tagine. Thus, I adjusted the vegetables accordingly. Butternut squash, carrots, bell pepper, and frozen spinach worked wonderfully in this tomato-based tagine. I used chickpeas instead of lentils for the mouth feel, and was completly satisfied with this warm, hearty stew!

Winter Tagine: Butternut squash, carrots, bell pepper, spinach, and chickpeas

Winter Tagine: Butternut squash, carrots, bell pepper, spinach, and chickpeas


Thai Jackfruit Curry

 

After my success with Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et, the bar was set high for my second experience with jackfruit. Copious amounts of Internet research revealed precious little that seemed able to rise to the occasion. I had almost thrown in the towel and conceded defeat to console myself in another w’et (a fantastic consolation, I think!) when inspiration struck. The savoury jackfruit recipes I could find could be neatly summed as follows: mock pulled pork, a dish that I have never liked; a coconut-based Sri Lankan curry, a coconut-based Malay dish, and a Thai curry. Aside from the pulled pork, all three had strikingly similar spice profiles with variable vegetable additions. So why not combine them all and add my own twist? And that’s exactly what I did!

I created a Thai Red/Green Curry (the Steve Smith Curry?) with a homemade curry paste, taking from the Sri Lankan, Malay, and Thai spice profiles. I simmered the curry paste in a bit of coconut milk to let the flavours develop and then dumped in all my vegetable additions. The result was sheer brilliance. This curry was nice and spicy with a kick – it’s one that you don’t think is that bad and are just reaching for the Sriracha when your eyes start to water. (Reduce number of chilis or seed them if this doesn’t appeal to you!) The jackfruit, bell peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and eggplant make the dish colourful. The variance in textures of the vegetables is also a delight to eat: every spoonful is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get! I especially love cherry tomatoes in coconut-based curries. I add them right near the end so they are cooked enough to be warm but not enough for the skins to split. Then when you eat them you get a burst of cheery tomato in your mouth. The jackfruit in the dish assumes the curry flavour much like eggplant but is firmer in texture. I would highly recommend using jackfruit instead of tofu in this curry if you are serving the dish to a crowd who are not fans of tofu, no matter how delicious the dish is. I served it over a bed of lightly steamed kale, but the more traditional way would be over vermicelli or rice. This dish exceeded the high bar set by the w’et with a completely different approach, style, and texture. Yet again jackfruit shone through, making me wonder what took me so long to pick up the can at the Asian grocery in the first place!

Thai Jackfruit Curry

Curry Paste:
3 spring onions, sliced
1-3 Thai red chili
1 tbsp. lemongrass, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
4-5 Kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. vegetarian fish sauce (optional; can substitute with soy sauce if you prefer)
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. light soy sauce (for gluten free use Tamari soy sauce)
1 tsp. dark soy sauce (optional)
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. brown sugar OR ½ tsp. Sucanat
¼ can coconut milk

Directions:
1) Place all ingredients in food processor. Puree until paste forms.

Jackfruit Curry:
1 can jackfruit in brine, drained, or 1 package frozen unripe, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp. peanut or canola oil
¼ cup white wine or vegetable broth
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
generous handful cherry tomatoes
½-¾ can coconut milk, depending on personal sauce preference

Optional garnish:
¾ cup unsalted cashews, dry roasted
fresh basil, cut into ribbons

Additional vegetable suggestions: bok choy, mushrooms, snap peas, green beans, eggplant

Directions:
1) Preheat large pan with oil. Pour in curry paste and stir-fry until fragrant, ~1min.
2) Add jackfruit. Stir-fry until well saturated with sauce.
3) Add the vegetable stock. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes.
4) Add ½ can coconut milk, plus all green vegetables (except basil). Simmer 3-4 minutes.
5) Add the cherry tomatoes. Simmer 2-3min; avoid overcooking vegetables!
6) Turn off heat and stir in cashews.
7) Garnish with fresh basil; serve over rice.


Fusion Pizza: Sweet Potato Crust with Kale and Vegetable Curry

The Moroccan Fusion Pizza was such a success I decided to create another fusion pizza! I had some sweet potatoes that had been languishing in the fridge for too long, and were begging to be used before they became a new life form. I remembered reading a recipe for sweet potato biscuits, so I decided that if you could make biscuits out of sweet potatoes, you can make pizza dough! This thought process led me immediately to crunchy kale, because nothing goes better with sweet potatoes than kale. (Except maybe black beans). Unfortunately for my fridge, I had stocked for my original weekend plan of Vegetable Curry, and now with the change of plans those vegetables were looking forlorn and forgotten. So I made the curry anyway, and topped the pizza creation with a nice spicy, saucy, vegetable curry. The result? Fantastic! These fusion pizzas are the way to go! Unexpected flavours when you say the word ‘pizza’, these heavily topped flatbreads are mouth-wateringly delicious. And as an extra bonus, you will have curry leftovers for lunch the next day.

For the vegetable curry topping, I used this vegetable curry recipe. It is very quick to throw together, and I found the idea of making a fresh tomato puree sauce unique. The tomato puree sauce is a new culinary trick that I will keep in my back pocket for other opportunities – it would make a great salad dressing, dipping sauce, or even a cold soup like gazpacho! For the vegetables I used all leftover and forlorn veg in my fridge. This version had extra cauliflower, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and carrots. I added broccoli to the mix, because slightly charred broccoli is perhaps more delicious than slightly charred kale. But only slightly. The curry was delicious on its own, with layers of flavours reminiscent of Northern Indian curries with a nice kick at the end. The only improvement I would make would be to add some red lentils to simmer with the tomato puree sauce for extra creaminess and a bit of protein. 

As the curry already had a tomato sauce, I skipped the sauce step of the ‘flatbread + sauce + toppings’ formula of a pizza. Instead, after baking the crust I lined the base with a healthy amount of kale, and then added a mound of curry. This technique was excellent and far exceeded expectations. The kale near the edge of the pizza turned nice and crispy, and the centre pieces became soft and marinated with that delicious curry flavour! The crust itself was one of the best I have ever had. The dough is quite sticky, and parchment paper here is worth its weight in gold. The crust comes out still soft with some crispy edges, and is almost nutty in flavour, thanks to the quinoa flour. It would be delicious on its own as a flatbread, focaccia, or even baked a bit more for some breadsticks used for dipping vessels! Plus, it’s orange. Who doesn’t like coloured food? With the kale and curry topping, it is one of the prettiest pizzas I have ever made!

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, cooled (approx. 1 large sweet potato)
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup spelt flour (chickpea flour or more quinoa flour would also be delicious!)
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. cold water
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In large bowl, mix all ingredients together
2) Spread onto parchment lined cookie sheet
3) Bake at 400 dF for 10 min.
4) Allow to cool slightly, then add toppings.

5) Once pizza topped, bake in oven 20 min. Allow to cool slightly.
Slice and serve!

Bet you can’t eat just one!

 


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