Hello. I’m back. With a new recipe post. Yay!
I could give many reasons why my blog has been silent for several months, especially on the recipe front. For one, I live in an apartment where natural light is scarce so taking photos of food has become practically impossible unless I take them out to my balcony (which is what I’ve done for this post). Another
excuse reason is that I needed time to recover mentally after my cross-continental move which took a bigger psychological toll on me than I anticipated. Finally, I have been cooking rather mundane dishes not particularly worthy of being photographed, praised and shared although these simple dishes kept me nourished throughout winter. On most of mornings, I treated myself to a bowl of hot oats topped with blood oranges and with some nut butter stirred in. Lunches and dinners consisted of simple red lentil soups, indian curries, roasted veggies (mostly beets) with steamed winter greens and whole grains. It’s been a long winter, both literally and figuratively, and I’ve been longing for warm sunny days filled with fresh meals that can be simply tossed or blended without long hours of waiting by a stove.
In the meantime, here is an early spring dish to bridge the seasons: warm, aromatic spicy curry with young green asparagus, colorful carrots, a leek and sweet potatoes. It actually does not matter what vegetables you use, the curry is forgiving of almost any choice you make (except, as I discovered later, purple carrots) – zucchinis, bell peppers, aubergines, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli – but it’s less flexible with herbs and spices. To achieve a relatively authentic thai flavor (as if i know anything about “authentic” thai food), you absolutely must have a stalk of lemongrass, few cloves of garlic, a piece of ginger root, fresh basil, green chiles and a can of coconut milk (or dried coconut that you can try to rehydrate with water). The recipe requires a lot of chopping but once you get through it, the rest is super easy. You just need to throw the chopped vegetables into a pot, with few minutes interval between each veggie group, and stir occasionally. And you know what’s the best part (apart from the delicious dinner of course)? Since it’s a one-pot meal, the clean-up is really easy. By the time you’re ready to sit down to a dinner, the only things you have to wash is going to be the knife, the chopping board, and the blender. Some day, when you are cooking a lot and often, you will realize how important is the concept of easy clean-up.
Spring Thai Curry
1 stalk of fresh lemongrass
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
1 Serrano chile or similar green chile (use 2 if you like it spicy)
handful of fresh basil
handful of fresh mint or cilantro
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 small (or 1 large) sweet potatoes
handful of green asparagus
handful of mushrooms
other veggie options what you may have on hand:
red / yellow / green bell peppers
yellow squash or green zuccinis
brocoli / cauliflower
freshly-cooked rice (I like 50/50 mix of brown basmati and wild rice)
fresh basil leaves
Start by preparing the curry paste using a food processor or a blender. Cut off and discard both ends of the lemongrass stalk and peel to remove the outer layer. Roughly chop and add to the food processor. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and the ginger root, adding to the lemongrass. Cut the chile lengthwise and remove all of the seeds under running cold water. Roughly chop and add to the rest of the ingredients along with rinsed basil and mint. Blend for 20-30 seconds until finely chopped.
Prepare all veggie ingredients by peeling, washing and chopping. Be sure to wash the leek thoroughly after slicing it in half lenthwise since dirt is usually trapped between the layers, and use only the white and lightly colored green parts, discarding the tough green leaves. If you are using organic carrots, usually peeling is not necessary – just remember to wash and scrub well. Trim the bottom 1 to 2 inches of the asparagus. Wipe the mushrooms with a wet paper towel and trim the base (do not wash or else they’ll get soggy). Chop everything in relatively similar size for even cooking.
On a medium heat, melt the coconut oil in a dutch oven or another equally large pot. Add the sliced leek and cook for five minutes stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown around the edges. Add the carrots and the curry paste, cook for five more minutes, followed by the mushrooms. After another five minutes have passed, add the potatoes and add water to the pot until all of the vegetables are just covered. When adding water, use the wooden spoon to scrub the bottom of the pot for any browned pieces (they add flavor!). Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Finally, add the asparagus and the coconut milk and cook for few more minutes.
Serve with rice, cashews and torn basil leaves. The curry tastes even better the next day after the spices have a day to mingle in a fridge.
For full disclosure, I must say that using colorful carrots shown in photos above was a mistake because purple carrots added a strange brown hue to the entire pot that didn’t look particularly appetizing (however the curry still tasted delicious). Next time, I plan to swap those “colorful” carrots for equally colorful bell peppers.
Oh and by the way, it feels good to be back :)