Fast & Easy Coconut Curry for a Snowy Day

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Always room for improvement, right??

Okay, everyone, it’s 2016!  I had a whole bunch of recipes I wanted to share over the holidays, but between traveling to be with family & friends in Maine and New Mexico (with twenty fabulous hours stuck in the Dallas airport in between) I just plain didn’t have time.  Now I’m back in Portland, where of all things, it’s snowing!  (I was told it didn’t snow here.)  Well, it was 50 degrees in Maine on Christmas Day, which doesn’t happen either.

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Beautiful New Mexico!

The weather, it is a’changin … Anyway, tomorrow it’s back to classes at my Chinese Medicine program, and this month I will also begin seeing patients again, which I have missed so much!  I took a break to get my feet on the ground in school, but it’s time to return to practice.  I have big plans, including teaching cooking classes — it’s going to be a great year!

For the moment, though, I need to eat and make sure I have food ready, when I come home from school this week, because it’s going to be busy.  During the colder months, I like to make big pots of soups or stews, and then eat them throughout the week.  Today it’s a warming South Asian style curry with some fish I have in the freezer.  But you could make this with chicken, tofu, kidney beans or just veggies.  AND — this is EASY.  I confess I went to Trader Joe’s and bought bags of chopped vegetables to throw in.  You could use frozen vegetables.  Whatever it takes to eat your veggies, just do it!

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Oh, oh, oooooooh such pretty vegetables 🙂

This recipe is a basic template that you can vary endlessly based on what you have on hand.  You can keep all the ingredients for this in your freezer and pantry so you can throw it together without having to go to the store … except maybe for fresh cilantro, but that’s not essential 🙂  Other veggies that would be fabulous in this curry are sweet potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, peas, zucchini …. the sky’s the limit …

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 inch chunk fresh ginger root
  • 3-6 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 12 oz. cubed squash (roughly one small winter squash)
  • 12 oz. broccoli florets (about four cups)
  • 12 oz mushrooms, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 8 oz baby spinach
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 14.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz. white fish (I used cod) — again, use any protein you like
  • juice of one lime
  • Soy sauce & rice vinegar to taste
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Now hit the ON button …

First, dice your onion, ginger and garlic.  I prefer to just throw everything in my food processor and hit the button until it turns to mush in about 60 seconds.  If you’re doing it by hand, mince the onion and garlic, and grate the ginger with a hand grater.

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If your pot has a thinner bottom, make sure to stir so it doesn’t burn.

Put coconut oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot, and add onion/garlic/ginger mixture.  Saute on medium heat until the onions are soft, translucent, and a little brown — about 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking.  Add mushrooms and cook til soft, adding a bit more oil if you need to.  Add curry powder (or curry paste if that’s what you prefer).  You can use either a Thai or Indian style — either is nice.

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Plop in the broccoli …

Now add about 8-10 cups of water or any kind of broth, depending on how many servings you want to make.  Best to start with 8; you can always add more as you go along.  (I just used water with a bouillon cube because that’s what I had.)  Cut your fish, chicken or tofu into bite sized chunks, and add to pot along with carrots and cubed squash.  Cover the pot, and let everything simmer until squash and carrots are just tender.  Now add coconut milk and diced tomatoes.  (If you’re using canned beans, drain and add them now.)  Bring everything back to a simmer (slow boil, where you just see things slightly bubbling) and add broccoli and chopped bell pepper.  Simmer until broccoli is just tender.  It should still be bright green — this just takes a few minutes.  Now turn off the heat and add spinach and chopped cilantro.  These will cook enough just from the heat of the liquid.

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Green, green, green … let’s eat our greens.

Taste and add soy sauce, vinegar and lime juice until it tastes just right to you.  (I added the juice of one lime, about a tablespoon of rice vinegar, and quite a few squirts of soy sauce.)  If you like Thai fish sauce, it is really good in this too.  This is a fairly thin curry that I eat on its own like a soup — if you want it thicker to serve over rice or another grain, put several tablespoons of cornstarch, tapioca starch or arrowroot in a bowl, and gently stir in about a half cup of the hot liquid until you have a smooth, lump-free paste.  Then stir this back into the pot, and simmer for another minute or two.

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Just fold in the spinach, bit by bit with heat off.  It will shrink quickly in the hot liquid.  The less cooking, the better.

This recipe with the ingredients I used above filled a 7 quart cast-iron casserole/pot.  It will be lunches for me for a week with some left over to freeze.  It could easily feed a hungry family of four for two nights, especially if served with rice.  A tip for getting through the winter with a busy schedule — if you make one big pot of soup each week and eat it until you’re tired of it, then freeze the rest in serving-size tupperware, you will gradually have a freezer full of a variety of healthful, tasty soups to pull out when things get particularly hectic.

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I ate a bowl while writing this post — it’s really good!
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